When I was a believing JW, especially in the 80's and early 90's, the District Convention was the highlight of the year for me. I anticipated it and looked forward to it. It was exciting and I hated it when it was over.
I remember one year meeting at a large coliseum in a mid-sized city. When the program was over, I leaned on the railing of the 1st level (above ground floor) and looked out over the floor as the stage was being disassembled, the chairs were being put up, etc. It was so depressing. I didn't want it to be over; I didn't want to leave that atmosphere and go back to "the world". I felt so safe there. It seemed like such a wholesome, loving atmosphere. I was meeting together with a select group of people - those who had "the truth". We were part of the small group on earth who were in the know and were going to survive the upcoming end of the world and live forever in paradise on earth.
I looked ahead in the program and tried to anticipate where we mighty get "new light" or some exciting information about when to expect the end or some exciting info concerning prophecy. I would anticipate some kind of new or exciting info all the way until the last talk and then be really disappointed when there was nothing because I knew it meant another year of drudgery - knocking on thousands of doors, getting up meeting parts, going to meetings, reading four magazines (usually very boring material) per month. I thought I was doing right, but I was miserable. I wanted the "new world" because I wanted to see an end to suffering and all the other bad stuff, but I also wanted deliverance from the boring, exhausting drudgery and misery of my life as a financially broke, hard working JW in full-time service. It was a life during which I never felt I could do enough. I could never catch up with all I was supposed to do. I hated that feeling.
And then... gradually, I learned the real truth - the truth about "the truth". I still, though, look back with nostalgic feelings to that time - to what I felt at the time about the conventions. I wish it had been what I thought it was.
The fruit bags. Was that the 70's & early 80's? What was in them? I think I remember a banana, some grapes, maybe an apple? Was that just in the U.S.?
Putting a Watchtower or Awake in the rear window of the car while travelling to the site so fellow JWs would recognize us on the road.
Sitting in my seat before the start of the program and hearing the chatter. It was a unique sound. I can hear it in my mind now.
I believe that back then the JW higher-ups really believed the hype and were more concerned about people and the ministry. It seemed more genuine.
Now, I think the real powers in the org (whoever/whatever they are) are just concerned about keeping the gig going. The org is about money and self-preservation now. I think the powers of today know or at least sense what most of us know - that the org has lost on the doctrinal front. The passing of time and the availability of information have led to its defeat.
I think this has led to a new/different tone and feel in the org, and the conventions could just never be what they were. But, that might just be to me (and others who know TTATT). I'm thinking about the bunker video and the new JW videos (movies). Maybe current JWs feel the same about the conventions now as I did in the 70's, 80's, & 90's. Don't really know.