While watching Hunter playing the other day, I began to think how different the world is for him. How very different just day to day life is in general. Things we take for granted now didn’t even exist then. And things that were common then are unheard of now. It is kind of a strange feeling to encounter bits and pieces of what were everyday items at a flea market and have them advertised as “vintage”. Or maybe it is just me…………
Today it seems like everyone has a cell phone. When I was Hunters age we had one regular phone. It was on a party line, remember those? The phone itself didn’t even have a dial. You picked up the receiver, listened to make sure no one else was using it, then pressed the little button that would hang up the phone, wait for the operator to answer and give the exchange and number you wanted to call or just the person you wanted to talk to and she would connect you. Our number was evergreen 863 and our ring was two shorts and a long. For anyone unfamiliar with this, everyone on the party lines phone would ring whenever anyone received a call, to know it was for you everyone was given a specific ring pattern. And everyone on the party line could listen to everyone else’s phone calls. It was a busybodies paradise!
The TV was a black and white, housed in a wooden frame with rabbit ears. There was a total of three stations. It was always on for the noon news, weather report, livestock prices and grain futures. My grandfather always listened to it when he came in to eat lunch, which was always referred to as dinner. Supper was the meal you had in the evening.
There was no such thing as a microwave oven. Or a refrigerator that dispensed ice and water. Ice was made by filling the metal ice cube tray with water and putting it in the freezer. There were no food processors, electric can openers or dishwashers. I remember when we got our first electric percolator, before that we had a coffeepot that set on the stove.
The laundry was done in a wringer washer and hung on the clothesline outside or alternately on lines hung in the basement to be used in case of rain or in the winter. Ironing was a regular chore to be done the day after laundry day. I remember learning the art of properly ironing shirts, pants, dresses etc.. and spending hours doing so.
I grew up on a farm outside of a small mid west town. Life was busy, not with todays frantic pace, but with chores. Everyone works on a farm and even kids had things to do. One of my first chores was to help with gathering eggs from our flock of chickens, filling the waterers and cleaning out the chicken house. I remember how proud I was when I was old enough to do this by myself. By then I was old enough to help with a myriad of other things.
The first thing I learned how to drive was a tractor. When I was 13 I learned how to drive a grain truck and had a permit that allowed me to drive the truck from the field to the grain elevator in town and back home. My first “paying” job was working for the seed company walking beans and de-tasseling corn. This glamorous job consisted of walking down the rows in soybean fields with a hoe and chopping out weeds. For the de-tasseling you walked down the rows in the cornfield and pulled off the tassels in given rows, this was job easier to describe than to accomplish.
I am so thankful that we were able to move away from an urban lifestyle and back to a rural area. I love being able to be much more self sufficient. I truly enjoy doing laundry on the back porch with the wringer washer, hanging it on the clothes line to dry in the sun and wind. All the while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around me. I like being able to grow most of the vegetables we eat. I even like to mow the grass.
Mostly I am glad that I have the opportunity to show Hunter some of the more basic and self sufficient life skills. It makes me happy to see him run and play in the sun and fresh air, to witness his amazement upon discovering the plants growing from the seeds we planted. To see him using his imagination instead of some electronic game and to have him grow strong in mind, body and spirit while frolicking in the simple pleasures of nature.