Recalling Value

Sept. 2, 2009

A reader and friend had this to say in response to Friday’s column “Something of Value” and with permission, I’m delighted to present it here for your consideration. The writer asked to remain anonymous:
   “You would have loved the 1940s and '50s. Life was at a much slower pace, and people were much friendlier, not to mention, much more honest, too.
   “This era was also a time when mom stayed home, and that meant home cooking and home made bread and pies: apple, peach, pecan, as well as pear cobbler and apple betty. Also on the list was home made butter and mayonnaise.
   “There was still a certain innocence about so many things. Permission to fish and hunt on private property was easily obtained – just don't mess up the area, and don't take too many of whatever it was you were going after.
   “So many people grew their own vegetables and fruits. I can remember shelling peas, or cleaning mustard greens. Picking fresh corn off of the stalks was a treat. Picking okra meant wearing a long-sleeved shirt so that you wouldn't get picked by the greenery. This was also canning time. Things were cooked and put into Mason jars to be used during the winter months.
   “I remember picking fat, juicy figs right off of the tree – dodging a wasp that wanted it too. Then there were the fruit trees: Plum and orange, not to mention the mulberry ones.. (I haven't seen this one around here in many, many years).
   “Let's not forget those juicy, delicious wild muscadines; makes good jelly, as well as a fine wine. We picked wild black berries – and had to watch out for snakes.
   “It wasn't unusual for a relative to raise a goat or several pigs or have a yard full of chickens. (Rule to remember: don't go in the chicken yard barefoot!) If you went to the grocery store and bought a chicken, you picked out a live one from the cage. The rest was up to you about cleaning and cooking it. Cows provided the weekly supply of milk that was obtained from a local farmer, or if you were lucky enough to have daily delivery of milk to your home.
   “The mailman knew where you lived and you didn't need things like a zip code. You also knew the local doctor, policeman and who your teachers were for next school year.
   “Speaking of school: You also brought your own lunch too. No cafeterias, no papers to fill out for a ‘free lunch’. Usually, you had a bologna sandwich and maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After school snacks consisted of a piece of French bread covered in thick and sweet condensed milk. After that you headed for the outdoors for a few hours of kick the can, or steal the flag, or football or baseball – all without parents screwing up the fun with rules and all the #$!& that they bring to organized youth sports today!
   “Let's not forget dad and kids going rabbit hunting. This put meat on the table for many people, especially those that had large families and had to supplement the weekly groceries.
   “On the entertainment side of things, we had our Saturday cowboy movies – at five cents, plus a nickel for candy.
   “We learned to read by reading the Sunday comics: Maggie and Jigs, Dick Tracey, Lil'l Abler, Smiling Jack, Little Orphan Annie, Kerry Drake, Blondie and Dagwood, Little Iodine, the Katz and Jammer Kids, Tarzan, Donald Duck, etc. For reading – which we did plenty of – there was Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. We turned out to be very good readers. Maybe the modern educational system can learn a few things about reading programs. We learned our math facts (times[-tables) by memorizing them, and later they became second nature to us.
   “Everybody gathered around the old AM only radio and listed to a plethora of stories. Imagination was in the minds eye.
   “Yes, times were a bit rougher, but compared to today's world -- that time seems like paradise.
   “I'm damn glad that I am old. I feel sorry for my children and grandchildren and all young people today. Me and you live in a world that doesn't know what it's like to really live. We took God out of so many things and I really don't like what has resulted from that deficiency.”
   Yep. Amen, my friend. Couldn’t have said it better myself.