It is almost impossible for young people of this generation to visualize a time before cell phones and iPads. They live with computers and the Internet and Blue Tooth, with speed dialing, text messaging and Facebook. Nor can you paint a picture in their minds of how much the world has changed, just in my lifetime. They listen politely when I speak to them about the simple things of bygone days. Then as soon as I finish speaking, they turn back to their own pursuits; often as not involving some of those electronic gadgets.
I do have a computer. I don’t have a cell phone and I don’t Facebook. I know enough about some of these to get by; am sure I could learn more if I wanted to. I admit, somewhat proudly, that my kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids know more about them than I. In fact, I have seen my three year-old great-granddaughter Adalyn Fannin happily surfing on her own little hand held iPad, doing so successfully. Young Rhyan Parrigin, the nine year old son of my grands Zack and Jennifer Parrigin can do more on my computer than I, and back when grandson Benjamin Keith Fannin was in kindergarten he taught me most of what I now know about them. However, I also know how it was to not have those things, nor to have the electricity needed to work them.
I can remember when the first light bulb turned on at my house, when my mother got her first washing machine and when we got a telephone, which was a party line. This meant that when you got a call, everyone on your party could lift their phones to hear what you said on yours.
I remember when we got our first television. It was a box like apparatus with a tiny little screen we thought we were rich to have.
We walked everywhere we went in those days, very few people having a car; none knowing what we were missing to not have one. We ate what was put on the table, most of it from things we raised, for grocery stores were few and far between. We walked to school, and knew we were safe when we got there. Most of our toys were home made; rag dolls and hand carved wooden wagons and sleds. We celebrated Christmas because it was the earthly birthday of our Savior, and we celebrated Easter because it was when He rose from the tomb. We learned how to pledge allegiance to our flag and to honor our mothers and fathers. When we did something worthy of punishment, we knew we’d get a good spanking, and no one would dare to say we shouldn’t, because we all knew that to spare the rod spoiled the child.
We left our doors open at night, secure in the knowledge that no one would break in on us, for wasn’t everyone you knew your neighbor? In fact, when troubles happened to you, they all came running to help out. They swept your floor and cooked you a meal, then washed the dishes afterwards. They sat with you and held you hand in quiet sympathy during a time of loss.
No one ever went on a rampage and shot their neighbor or their neighbor’s children, and as far back as I can remember, no one ever died from a drug overdose. I doubt if any of us really knew what dope was.
Most women were the queen in their own household, seeing to the care of the family, doing everything necessary and in order. Few of them smoked, although I do remember that my little Branham grandmother smoked a corn cob pipe. In my memory I still see her, at the close of a day, sitting quietly in front of the fire place, or if it was summer, in her rocking chair on the front porch. In a precise moment during that resting time, she would reach into the pocket of her apron; take out the pipe she had already filled with tobacco. Then with either an ember from the fireplace, or with a match from her pocket stash she would light up, and leaning back contentedly in her chair, would puff away.
The tobacco she used was mostly of their own growing. If it was from some other neighbor’s crop, no big tobacco agents ever got their grubby hands anywhere near that tobacco, to alter it with all those additives that were habit forming and caused lung cancer.
In fact, there seemed less of any kind of cancer back then, and Alzheimer’s was not the mind robbing epidemic it now is. Of course, if you multiply yesterday’s incidences of such diseases by today‘s population explosion, it would be in much larger proportions. You might say that to have such things now would be best, what with the advances in medicines, and the knowledge of how best to treat them, but people still die.
Time passed. With it came those mechanical advances; then the war to end all wars. Along with this our electronic age began and has never stopped. However, good as these things might be, bad as some parts were, I remember back when the things I write about were a pleasant part of our life. Admittedly, all were just a blip on the forward movement of the years. Maybe it wasn’t the good old days, but I would wish to have some of the ambiance of that time again.