Love Thy Neighbor II
I enjoyed the article, “Love Thy Neighbor” by Karen Wyman (Williston Observer, May 3, 2012). It brought back memories of my own childhood. Though some of my memories are similar, others differ.
10. LAWN SERVICES.
When I was old enough, my parents did not mow the lawn. I did, and with a non-powered push mower.
9. DECLINE OF THE FRONT PORCH.
Our front porch was small, but we did see our neighbors. For example, every morning I waved ‘good bye’ to my neighbor as he drove off for work at 7:15. And he waved back!
8. THE INTERNET.
What people can do today via the Internet, as she suggests, is amazing. Our only tie to the outside world from inside the house was a desktop phone with an operator at the other end asking, “Number please.” Computers? Not even in businesses yet, let alone a home.
7. GYM MEMBERSHIPS.
I never saw many adults doing anything for exercise, inside or out. The kids relied on gym at school or riding their bikes around the neighborhood.
6. DUAL-INCOME FAMILIES.
Both of my parents worked. My mother only went back to work when I was old enough to care for myself. And then her job was only about 300 feet away at a dentist’s office. I could stop in anytime (though who would want to go to a dentist’s office anytime?).
5. NO FREE TIME.
I had plenty of free time as a kid. With no Internet and only one TV in the entire neighborhood, all of us had plenty of time to play as a family and enjoy the company of our neighbors. We were not compelled to “save time.”’
I was always taught, “Don’t speak to strangers.” The concern may be worse today, but apparently the threat has always been there— not with neighbors (even on the next street), rather the drive-by or several streets away.
We were not often asked for favors by neighbors, but we never lacked for energy and inventiveness. Imagine our parents’ anger when they discovered the kid across the street and I had drilled holes in both houses so we could string wire between them and have our telegraphs talking to each other. We even climbed trees to string the wire high enough over the street!
2. SCHOOL BUS STOPS.
Not only did the school bus not stop at every house, a student had to live more than 2 miles from school (as the crow flies) to be allowed on the bus. I guess that took the place of gyms and demonstrated lack of fear for strangers.
1. MASS MERCHANDISERS.
They did not exist. Yes, we went to our neighbors for eggs or sugar. We bought in small quantities and had little room for frozen foods. My grandfather often walked to the store down the street for ice cream for dinner. I loved him. I also remember him saying to my mom, “Vegetables in the freezer? When we found frozen vegetables, we threw them out.”
0. RIGHT ON!
To Karen, thanks for providing me with your trigger for thought. Well done.
Attention historians young and old: Please plan to attend “Inventive Vermonters, Their Farm Tools and a Williston Man’s Contributions” on Saturday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library. This will be a one-hour talk and slide presentation by local historian and writer Richard Allen and Paul Wood, collector of antique farm implements. There will be a special deal on the sale of books by the Williston Historical Society, sponsor of the program.
Terry Macaig, President
Williston Historical Society