Here I am, with one foot stuck in the Civil War thanks to having heard stories about it from one who was there, and one foot in this crazy, light speed modern world. It seems foreign to my children when I tell them that when I was a boy there was no TV or computers or indoor plumbing in many homes, and no telephones. What we did have, however, that my children or yours have never had the pleasure of, is listening to radio shows as a family group. Mr. and Mrs. North, The Squeaking Door, The Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy, Peter Pan and a litany of others. Those old radio actors could make our whole family sit in rapt silence staring at the radio and hanging on every word of their story.
Then it was bedtime. Claude and I would lie there in silence listening to the hoot owls, whippoorwills, dogs barking and occasionally a possum in the hen house, praying for a breeze if it was summer and huddling together if it was winter.
These were the days when a man’s word meant something. If a man gave his word while looking the other in the eye, that was it. The deal was done. Boy, have those days ever disappeared. We always left our house unlocked and never worried about theft except, that is, for the smoke house. Every country family had a smokehouse and it had a lock on it. I guess this was because there were so many people back then that were hungry much of the time and a hungry man will steal. I mean, it is one thing to trust a man with your bird dog or your mule, or even your wife, but when it came to those country hams or a side of bacon you just had to draw the line and trust no one; just to be on the safe side. No need in tempting someone beyond their ability to resist.
My youngest son cannot believe that I used to go to town with two dollars in my pocket and eat burgers, a shake and fries and still have money for gas. He laughed when I told him I used to shake Catawba trees to get the worms and sell them for fish bait just so I could have money. And let’s not forget those green pine burrs we would sell to the timber company. Talk about a killing! We got two dollars a bushel for those things and there were hundreds of acres ripe for the picking around home. A veritable gold mine, but with one catch; you had to climb up the tree and shake the burrs out. I was a bit too heavy for this kind of cat squirrel climbing so I just took a 22 rifle and shot the limbs off. This was only cost effective because I charged the bullets to my Daddy at Alfred Lotts’ Hardware, thus making my gross all profit at Daddy’s expense. This sounds a lot like the way our government works nowadays; a few billion here to buy those votes, a few billion there to buy those votes. Send the bill to the forgotten man- the taxpayer, or nowadays, to our great grandchildren.
Times have changed since back then when you left your house unlocked if you were away. Of course, this was because there wasn’t much to steal in our homes, except a radio and whatever was in the pie safe. That’s why the smokehouse was always locked. Even thieves have to eat.