The Errant Nightwalker (ex_sir_lance126) wrote in fifty_five_plus,
The Errant Nightwalker

Happier times

It will soon be time to retire in order to begin the week anew on the morn. A depressing thought, at times.

I started watching the 1940 movie "Abe Lincoln in Illinois." A movie from sixty years ago about life a hundred years before that. The simplicity of life in those times appeals to me. There wasn't a lot of people anywhere in the country (as opposed to the city) then. Log cabins of one room. Hand-made furniture. Lots of spare time, especially in the evening, since there wasn't any radio or tv to interfere with the silence. Log fires in fireplaces. Oil lanterns. What was it they burned in them back then? Whale oil? Lots and lots of woodland. Why, a fella could get lost in the woods back then, and not find his way back for months. Living off the land. Lots of wild critters available to shoot for food. And everybody would have had maybe a cow and some pigs and chickens, and a plot of corn to feed to the animals. And a general store in a small settlement.

I was raised up until about the age of three in a general store in a small settlement. Then we moved to a city where Dad worked in an oil refinery. To this day I love the smell of skunks, they smell just like the oil refinery area. For a couple of years in 1949 and 1950 we lived in the general store again, then Dad got another oil refinery job near St. Louis, at Woodriver, where we lived when I graduated from eighth grade. Then there was a long strike, which lasted longer than Dad's funds, so we moved back South, back to the area where the family lived. Dad worked at an explosives factory while I went to high school.

After high school I went right into college. I went for a couple of years. During this time Dad became out of work. The factory had "pulled up stakes" and moved to Arizona. (Reference is to living in a tent, and pulling up the stakes holding the tent whenever you move.) I had clinical depression and didn't know it, and living at the university by myself was a bit much. I quit college and got a job. Then I got married to my first wife, just before I would have been drafted for Vietnam.

But some of the best times I ever had were when I could stay at Grandad's farm. I remember a cooking-stove that burned wood, and churning cream into butter. I really loved cream. There were cats and dogs and cousins to play with, and a fruit cellar that was all musty-smelling and cool. And acres and acres of fields to run and play in, and the hay in the barn loft to play on, and the cows and pigs and chickens and cow-piles and horse manure, and the butchering of the hogs and rendering of the lard. And the pork chops and fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and eggs and biscuits and gravy and putting up the hay, and sweating and itching, and chigger bites and mosquito bites and sleeping with the windows open in the summer and the window fans going to try to keep cool.

I remember going with Grandad to the feed store to get the corn ground, and the wondrous smells of that place. Those were the days. I didn't have any responsibility then, and had lots of fun.

Whatever happened to that world? Well, I grew up, and had to start earning a living on my own. Moved to town, and then to a city. In my opinion, cities are not a place for living. Real living is done in the country.

So, y'see, the movie about simpler times brought back memories of happier times, which made me sad. I do envy the people who were able to stay on thier farms. Poor as churchmice, but a life you can't beat even with a stick.
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