Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Happened?

Most of the time I like to have something to listen to while going about the daily household chores.  If I am moving about between rooms, indoors and out, my choice is music.  But if I am working on something that requires me to be fairly stationary,  I like a good story for company.  I have downloaded dozens of audio comedy and mystery books and a whole passel of old time radio shows.  But I wanted something a bit different.  I came across a YouTube channel where the author had uploaded an audio version of the Little House on the Prairie books.  I had bought this series for my children when they were young, and I think I enjoyed reading them as much as the kids did.  So far I have listened to three of them, and am starting on the fourth.

While listening to these stories written by the woman who lived them as a child, I am struck by the huge differences in the way people lived, then and now.

Those people grew their own vegetables.  If they didn't, it would be a very long, cold winter without food.  Even those who lived in towns planted vegetable gardens.  The last time I rode the bus before the snow fell, I looked into all of the back yards I passed during that one hour ride, and I saw not even one garden spot.  My son is probably the only one in his neighborhood who raises vegetables.  In other cities, town councils punish those who have gardens in their yards instead of grass.  What happened?

Those people abhorred the notion of being beholden to anyone.  If they didn't have the cash, they didn't buy, but made do with what they had.  Or they were more apt to trade work for the desired item.  You went to help your neighbor roof his barn, and he came and helped you dig your well.  It all worked out and nobody owed anybody anything.  Today, we whip out the plastic and buy what we want - not just what we need.  We wind up owing tens of thousands of dollars.  And it doesn't seem to phase us one bit, because we keep on doing it.  What happened?

Those people took care of their own.  When someone came around with evil intent, if the family dog didn't chase him off, the homesteader did, usually with buckshot.  I just read about a man who caught someone in his home, trying to steal his possessions.  The homeowner pulled a gun and chased the burglar off.  The police arrested the homeowner for having a gun.  The burglar then sued the homeowner.  What happened?

Those people had well mannered, well behaved children, for the most part.  Children were taught to respect their elders.  They were given chores to do and were expected to do them without complaint.  If they disobeyed their parents, the quickly learned that actions have consequences.  Children didn't need to be entertained.  They made their own fun.  The dipped their toes in the creek and hunted for minnows.  They fished from the banks of the river.  They went sliding down hills in wintertime, or skating across the surface of the frozen lake.  They built forts in the woods or just layed on their backs in the grass and watched the clouds float by.  They had all of nature for their playground.  Today, kids aren't happy unless they are plugged into something, be it computer games or music or anything that requires a remote.  And parents are quick to supply these diversions, for they act as babysitters.  Or if a child is active, they are quickly medicated.  What happened?

I think I know what happened, but some days I just find it too sad to even think about and other days I become angry thinking about what we have lost.  I realize that the times I am talking about were well over 100 years ago.  And I know that there are still good people out there with those same old-fashioned values.  I just wish that there were more of us who cared about those values.  I think then, our modern world would be a much nicer place to live.


  1. Vicki, I love those books, too. Also the ones written by Janette Oke. Both series are about life over 100 years ago, but I don't think the values should ever be outdated! I so love seeing the occasional parent that goes to the trouble to still instill those values in their children. I so agree with all that you have said and have all the same feelings. But then I'm just an ole grandma!


  2. Just had this conversation the other day with some folks...We wouldn't have dared to talk back for fear daddy would wup my hiny for it or to complain that we were bored..again they would find something for us to do which usually involved the evil word "work". To disrespect our elders absolutely not acceptable....
    Values are not instilled in kids today and I find it sad, really!
    I do love these books too!

  3. CottonLady...I am having such fun listening to the Little House books again. I am not familiar with the Janette Oke books, but will check them out. Every now and then I see parents who teach the old values, and it does my heart good. They are as valid now as then. Don't go saying that you are "Just an ole grandma." We have lived long enough to have learned a little bit along the way and earned the right to have the respect of the younger ones! We pass on what we learned from our elders, and that is important.

  4. Mary...You know, it is a funny thing. My Dad never laid a hand on me, though I had it coming more than once! But the thing that kept me from getting into serious trouble was knowing that if I did, he would be disappointed in me. I did, however, mow the lawn and weed the garden a lot for punishment! Mother found a whole lot of things in the house that needed scrubbing, too, as I recall! I really don't know when parents stopped thinking that bad behavior in their children was OK. Maybe it was about the time the government stepped in and started punishing parents for spanking their kids.

  5. Sad, indeed. This isn't the country in which you and I were born. Two reasons quickly rise to the surface, television and government interference. When this country stepped beyond its agrarian roots life as we knew it ceased to exist. Very good piece, my dear friend.

  6. Thank you, Stephen. Sometimes when something gets to me, I need to write about it to keep from brooding. You are absolutely right about TV and government. I was 15 when my family acquired a TV. Before that, we talked to each other. We played Monopoly and Parchisi in the evenings. We did jigsaw puzzles. We read. Maybe that is why I don't watch my TV now! When parents were free to raise their children as they thought best and not the way government said they had to, we had far fewer problems. I want my America back. I just don't know how or even if it is still possible.

  7. You can point to a number of issues, but the bottom line is the parents are not around and the kids get into trouble.
    After we married, we sat down and decided that if my wife went to work she was working to cover the cost of day care. No money left for bills and such. My wife has spent a large part of our marriage being a stay at home mom. It shows with how are kids acted around others.

  8. Rob...You made a good choice. Not everyone is able to stay home with the kids, and that's where having a good value system in place is so important. Both my son and his wife work. But they are raising their kids with the old-fashioned values and as a result, they have really good kids. Sounds to me like you raised yours the same way. That's something to be proud of.