I am a 70 year old retired American. I do not yearn for “the good old days” since I am aware that technology will always affect the lives of us all. However, I do yearn for the society of morality, American pride, and common sense that we seem to be moving further and further away from each day.
I grew up in the country on a dirt poor 15 acre farm. My dad worked on road construction as a carpenter when there were jobs within driving distance. He did carpentering at odd jobs during road construction down times. Mom stayed at home and took care of me and my brothers and sisters.
We raised pigs, chickens, rabbits and a large garden to provide food to supplement dad’s paycheck. We also had a milk cow loaned to us by one of my uncles. He got the calf each year and we got the milk. We drew water for the animals and for bathing from a hand dug cistern that filled from run off when we had rain. During dry spells we hauled water for the animals from the same place we got our drinking water.
We hauled our drinking water in 10 gallon milk cans from a spring on the side of a hill three miles from home. Many times we hauled it in a small wagon pulled by my brother and me on foot. We all drank from a tin cup hanging from the handle on the milk can. Even relatives and neighbors drank from the same cup if they wanted a drink.
Our home was a four room clapboard house that was not insulated and also had no running water or inside bathroom. Our bathroom was a small building with a bench built in with two holes for people to sit. The building sat over a six to eight foot deep hole we dug by hand. Our house was heated by an open-flame propane heater that sat in the living room. We had a second heater that we hooked up in the area that mom and dad slept in during the winter. In warm weather that area was our dining room and mom and dad slept where my brother and slept in the winter. My brother and slept on the back porch when it was warm.
During the summer we seldom wore shoes except on Sundays when we went to church. There were twelve families who lived within a half mile square that we called our community. Most of the forty or so people in those families attended Church in a small Church House that sat at the end of the road on the South side of our community. As long as I can remember, my grandma preached the Sunday morning sermon.
Our home was only a half mile from school so the bus would not pick us up. Rain or shine we walked to school each day. There were neighbors who lived between our house and school so we would “pick up” kids to walk with as we made our way to school. School was a large single-story brick building that was three sections long and had a second story on the center section. The section on the East end was the gymnasium. The section on the west end housed five classrooms, three on one side and two on the other side of a hallway.
The lower floor of the center section was the boy’s and girl’s locker rooms and two classrooms. The second floor held the offices and three classrooms. The first and second, third and fourth, and the fifth and sixth grades each had a single teacher. The seventh through twelfth grades changed rooms depending on the subjects. Each morning every class began the day by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Once a week a lady came and taught a Bible story to each of the classes.
As I said, in the summer we rarely wore shoes but to be truthful whenever it was warm we would traipse around in the house or outside barefoot. When we would get home from school we would change from our “good” clothes into “old” clothes and head outside. If there was hoeing that needed done in the garden I would get started on that. I started helping in the garden when I turned five but couldn’t do a lot. On my sixth birthday two of my cousins that were about 1o years older than me gave me a hoe and rake that they had cut down so it was more my size. Once I could handle full size garden tools I graduated up and hung the ones Jerry and Wally made for me up. I don’t recall now what happened to them. I do know I had them hanging there for several years.
Wally and Jerry were a part of my life until I was eight and I have some wonderful memories of them. They had a pet crow that they had found when it was a baby. They raised it and split it’s tongue when it was older. That enables a crow to talk so that it can mimic you. It could say Jerry, Wally, Callen, hi, bye, and a lot of other words. Once it was grown they would open the window in their room and the crow would go out for a while but he always came back. Right after I turned eight, their family moved to California. I felt like a of me was gone.