Monday, December 16, 2013

Then and Now

As I was reading some of the news articles this morning from both mainstream and alternative news sources, I got to thinking how different our lives are today from those of my paternal grandparents.  They homesteaded land in northern Minnesota in 1907.  They first put up a log cabin and later built a larger house, a barn and a few smaller outbuildings.  They raised nine children, all of whom grew into responsible adults.

They didn't worry about their food being full of chemicals - they raised most of it themselves.

They weren't concerned about meat being full of growth hormones and other chemicals, or about the animals being raised in the unhealthy environment of a factory farm.  They raised their own beef cattle, milk cows, hogs and chickens.  They butchered and processed their own meat animals and supplemented this with venison.

They weren't terribly concerned with grocery prices for they traded milk, butter and eggs for the staples they couldn't raise themselves.  They scoured the woods and fields for edibles like wild plums and blueberries to add to their diet.

None of the nine children were ever involved in a Knockout Game.  The very idea of hurting another person for no reason was abhorrent to them.

Not one of their children took medication to control their behavior.  Their behavior was controlled by their parents.  Sometimes with a trip to the woodshed, if the offense was serious enough, and most times with extra chores to keep them too busy for mischief.

Their education was not of the Common Core, government controlled variety, but of the basics that included reading, writing, math, and history.  Most of the nine children went through eighth grade in the little one room schoolhouse a quarter mile from their home.  The one their father helped to build.  Three of the girls went on to high school in the largest town about 20 miles away, where they earned teaching certificates.  All were able to use their education, along with common sense, to keep their families out of poverty.

They never signed up for government welfare programs when they became available.  It was considered a sign of laziness to expect someone else to take care of your family.  They would have been shamed to do so.

They didn't feel the need to provide entertainment for their offspring.  These kids made their own fun.  They went swimming in the lake near their farm.  They went fishing in the river.  In winter, they went sledding down the hill in the pasture or went ice skating on the frozen pond.  Most of their toys were homemade.  They made music and played games, both indoors on rainy days or outdoors on sunny ones.  Their mother had a hard time getting them to come inside for supper as opposed to kicking them outdoors to get a little exercise, as many do today.

They taught their children what was important.  Good manners.  Respect for others.  Love for and duty to family.  Right from wrong.  A belief in God and the teachings of the Bible.  A work ethic second to none.

These people weren't perfect.  Not by a long shot.  They messed up from time to time as we all do.  But they had a foundation for their lives that was solid and strong, so when things did not go well and they knew that they had strayed from what they had been taught, they got themselves back on track.  By their own bootstraps.

I understand that times have changed since my parents were young.  One can no longer trade for grocery staples.  Raw milk has been outlawed, for the most part, gardens are not allowed in some cities, and God forbid that a person should live, work or raise a family without being told how by politicians.  The government seems determined to control all parts of our lives that they don't already.  So I am aware of the sad fact that the way of life that I long for is gone.  Isn't it amazing that my grandparents were able to raise their family and live a life, not of wealth and privilege, but one that was good and had meaning, using the Bible as a how-to guide along with the lessons learned from their parents, and not by government regulations.

Sometimes I am convinced that we could use a bit more of the woodshed and a whole lot less of the feel-good politically correct.  And a bit of old-fashioned common sense thrown in for good measure wouldn't hurt, either.


  1. Thank you. And thanks for stopping by.

  2. I remember going to the woodshed a couple of times! It did me some good.

  3. Son, you grew up to be a responsible man who doesn't blame other people or circumstances when something goes wrong. Sometimes it takes a trip to the woodshed to impress upon a kid the difference between right and wrong. But that only works if you have parents who love you enough to see to it that you understand that difference. And in spite of less than ideal circumstances, you have had those parents. Your Dad was very proud of you and so am I.

  4. What a fine piece of writing. Well done. You have a wonderful talent, young lady. And, I completely agree.