Lebanon Reporter

Columns

June 20, 2012

Now they sit and listen to my stories

I never seemed to tire from sitting on an old worn-out porch, listening to someone much older than I telling me stories of the good old days. I’ve been known to sit and listen from early morning till the sun slipped below the horizon. There was just something magical about absorbing story after story of a time that was before mine.

Many times over I have wished that I had been born years before I was. I’m not sure exactly when I would have picked if given the chance to live in another time or dimension. The late 1800s to the early 1900s probably would have been my first choice. Imagine how much happened from around 1910 till sometime in the late 60s. In the beginning, I could have traveled by horseback or even by way of a buggy to get from place to place. A mile traveled back then would have seemed much longer than it does these days. Our great grandparents probably didn’t venture very many miles away from where they were born, unless Grandpa had been sent to fight a war in some distant land.

Over a hundred years ago, many of the small sleepy burgs that we rush through nowadays were once vibrant, bustling towns that furnished nearly everything that a family needed. The local merchant could carry dry goods, groceries, and even plows to bust the prairie sod so that families could plant crops. The farmer of the olden days depended on whatever he planted to help keep his family alive during the long cold Indiana winters that were sure to come.

Recycling is not something that has just come about in the past few years. Pioneer families would reuse things over and over again till they just completely wore out. Clothes and shoes were passed from the oldest child down to the youngest. Catalogs weren’t discarded after being read, they became toilet paper (as did with corncobs!). Scraps weren’t thrown down the garbage disposal; they became food for chickens and hogs, or fertilizer for the family’s  garden. Enough food was grown to eat fresh during the summer, and much was canned or preserved for the long winter months ahead to keep the family alive well past the garden’s life expectancy.

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