A series of ads is running right now in which older kids are talking about how easy the little kids in the room have it these days because they can watch television in any room of the house due to some "bundling" program. The interesting thing to me is that the "older" kids, perhaps all of twelve, are busy doing something: working on their skateboards together, playing a card game, actually socializing. The younger children have their eyes glued to the screen of the television or their pea-pods or I-pads or whatever those things are. A recent newscast stated that teens are waiting longer before getting a driver's license. Other factors are involved, but one reason given is because texting and other social media allow teens to stay in touch without face-to-face contact. From the Mt. Olympus of age, I look down and worry about such things.
PBS (that is Public Broadcasting System, not peanut-butter sandwich) recently ran a show called "Life On The Farm" with Jerry Apps. Mr. Apps grew up on a farm in Wisconsin during the years of the Great Depression in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing (like me in a power outage now). Kids in school were given two weeks of "potato vacation," when it was a given that the children were needed at home to work the potato harvest. Child labor laws did not apply to farm kids. (You could have asked my dad about that.) Mr. Apps said he knew he had made the transition from boy to man when his father allowed him to fork oat hay into the threshing machine (drawn by horses) by himself. He spoke of the difference between chores and work. Chores like milking cows twice a day, hauling in firewood, hoeing a half-acre garden were expected of every kid on every farm. Work was what one did for other people: putting up a barn, painting a neighbor's house, helping with their harvest. He talked about common values and ethics and the sense of community that were somehow lessened or lost with the advent of mechanization and electronic innovations. I can relate.
I went down to Camille's yesterday to take some photos of a kitten she is fostering and putting up for adoption. We sat on her patio and listened to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and "Prairie Home Companion" on the radio (she doesn't have TV) while the kitten posed for her closeups. I'd nearly forgotten how much fun it is to sit with a companion and listen to a game show or hear a deep, mellifluous voice tell stories.
In my "mission statement" when I started this journal, I said I wanted to share a bygone lifestyle that I live today. Perhaps it is not just the day-to-day life I would like to pass on, but a view into "the way we were."