"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday, 26 May 2014

What triggers a memory

The ducks are back.

My clothes pins were left out all winter'; on the deck under the maple. The  bucket lid was closed. But snow and dirt  got in anyway. I've been using the pins on top.

This morning I brought the bucket in after I hung  out the wash.  Cleaning was overdue and the pins given a bit of a wipe as well.

The pins are bamboo. Really cheap. As I washed and dried  with a dish cloth saved because it was sound if a bit discolored, I noticed  things.  Most of the bamboo pins are in good shape. Not too much rust on the springs. Only half a dozen plastic pins have survived and they have a lot of rust.

Replacing all of them would have cost  little.  Hardly worth the time it took to washand dry. But I can't bring myself to get rid of things  that are still useable.

Maybe it's not so much that I think like a freak but I am a product of my environment.

But planned obsolescence has been part of my environment longer.

So maybe  I  do think like a freak.

As I wiped  I thought of clothes pegs of the past.  Gypsy women  clad in shawls peddled them from wicker baskets carried  resting on a hip encircled  by an arm . Basket also probably woven by  themselves. Pins were  whittled with a knife from willow I think. . You  might  still find one here and there with  a  face painted on the knob and  body dressed like a doll.

They were big pins. Laundry was heavier in those days. No man-made fibres.

There were no washing machines. no dryers. No electricity in the beginning.

Poor women did  washing for better-off women. A boy might trundle  it to and from in a battered old pram with wobbly wheels or a mother carried it, borne down by the weight of it.

 Likely not much more than pennies changed hands. Storefront laundries were common.

People did what they had to do to survive.

You wouldn't believe the things we  saved. Bits of string. Paper bags folded and re-used. More than once.

Games  had  little but imagination and  organization. As many as fifteen or twenty kids got to-gether  for a game.

On the ground playing bools,plunking them of first finger with the thumb. Conkers ,dried chestnuts , on a string. They were boys games. I never understood that.

Hide and Go Seek. ....Leave A' ....... A circle drawn with chalk was the den.A kid  from the opposing team, running through the den  with a cry meant everybody who had been captured could run free.

Choosing sides or who would be IT.  One  potato.two potato,three potato,four. Five potato,six potato,seven potato more.  You're out.

Strange how often it was  the youngest or slowest kid who  was  TT.

The games were all hard. We were breathless most of the time. Speed or skill were factors. Reputations were built and lost in the games we played.

We went home tired. Little inclined to anything but sleep.  Just as well because there wasn't room for much else.

If the weather was bad we sat around the small coal range and listened to ghost stories .sang  songs or played guessing games  like My Grannie had a sweetie shop and in it she sold.,,,,
initials would be given and the sweetie had to be guessed for someone else to have a turn.


Anonymous said...

Newspapers were not considered an enemy in need of re-cycling. Schools sent the kids out into their neighbourhood to scrounge papers, begging householders to be allowed to remove hoarded piles from basements & garages. The results were towed to school by those with wagons & sold with the money going to charity.
Now some schools are in need of basic supplies & trying to raise money for their own uses.

Anonymous said...

This might make a nice fit with your recollections.

As late as 1935, farmers had been denied electricity not only in the Hill Country of west Texas but throughout the United States. In that year, more than 6 million of America's 6.8 million farms did not have electricity. Decades after electric power had become part of urban life, the wood range, the washtub, the sad iron and the dim kerosene lamp were still a way of life for almost 90 percent of the 30 million Americans who lived in the countryside. All across the United States, wrote a public-power advocate, "Every city 'white way' ends abruptly at the city limits. Beyond lies darkness."

The private interest who were electrifying America's urban centres could not justify the enormous cost to run electric poles and lines to sparsely populated rural areas.

It took bold acts by President Franklin Roosevelt, egged on by a young Congressman from that same Hill Country to enact laws and to commit government money to the vast hydro generating plants that were required, including the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electrification Administration.

There is a lot more that occurred before the conclusion of this piece, which follows:

"But then one evening in November, 1939, the Smiths were returning from Johnson City, where they had been attending a declamation contest, and as they neared their farmhouse, something was different.

"Oh my God," her mother said. "The house is on fire!"

But as they got closer, they saw the light wasn't fire. "No, Mama," Evelyn said. "The lights are on." **

They were on all over the Hill Country. "And all over the Hill Country," Stella Gliddon says, "people began to name their kids for Lyndon Johnson."

** This is a coincidence

From "The Years of Lyndon Johnson" by Robert A. Caro

Anonymous said...

Funny...I'm 49. Sounds like we lived in the same neighborhood. :)

Anonymous said...

I am glad you have your ducks back. Ours have spent the day taking turns floating in an old litter box of water & then moving into the shady spots of the yard.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about the chalk circle. We had home-free but no way to release others. Cool.....

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Evelyn.

Anonymous said...

Another commercial for pining for yesterday and vote for the way things used to be.

You did a fine essay however on how things change and this goes hand in hand with how this Town and it's government must change. You cannot live in the past.