The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
"Where were they in the Good Ole Days"
Greetings to everyone in Western Illinois for this New Year of 2009. I'm a hop'in everyone behaved themselves as they ushered in the New Year.
Myself, we had a pretty tame evening, ushering out the Old "08" year.
Our tradition has been to go out to eat with the same five neighbors (couples) as we have for the last 35 plus years. It sure has been fun keep'n up that tradition.
On my mind, as I write this column, is the conversation me and ole Cornelius Farkwad got into, over the meal.
Of course, the subject of politics came up on the national and state levels.
Me, knowing my old neighbor is a die hard Republican, says to Cornelius "Don't you remember we was always taught when we were youngns' not to talk "Politics" and "Religion" if'n you expect to maintain friends with people of different persuasion". And, this being the last day we'll have together this year, let's keep it peaceable.
You see, our old steadfast group of five couples is made up of a mixed group of political and denominational beliefs, even sometimes betwixt husband and wife.
Cornelius says, "Since you brought it up then, let's talk religion".
"Yikes!" I says. "What has brought your pot to a boil? I was try'n to avoid controversial subjects tonight. Let's not bring them up!"
Well, he says, "I was raised on the tail end of the era of the horse and buggy and the front end of the era of some fairly crude horseless buggies, no heaters, etc.
"We had some gosh awful winters back in those days. Deeper snow, more ice and colder weather," as he recollected.
"In those days there were no good methods for clearing roads, like we have today, and the roads themselves were rather shabby compared to today's.
"The old country churches were not well heated and we knew what warmth to expect from the buggy, the church, and the elements. We traveled over five miles on unpaved roads oft times under terrible conditions. This we did after doing a fair amount of chores before leaving for church.
"After arriving at church, horses had to be tended to before we went into worship. The old folks and lame traveled with us or stayed at home, but we never closed the church down. It seems it was a necessary part of our lives.
"Our week felt ruined if'n we missed church and the fellowship of like minded believers. In fact, it helped us through the hard times, much like we are hav'n now. Share'n our troubles, concerns, and needs with God and worshipping him together with neighbors helped bind our community and distanced the isolation during the week that the cold winter brought on.
"Why is it, when times is hard, anyone would ever want to stop church services because of weather or even worse, because the weatherman is predicti'n bad weather, even though it has not or may not even happen yet?
"And, how is it those folk in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and all more northern states is able to keep a going in much worse weather. A little tift of winter comes along and we react in a paralyzed manner, as if we were from Georgia or Alabama."
"Well," I says to Cornelius, "Those is sensitive subjects and I'm not going there tonight"! Let it be, won't you. Besides those folks making those decisions had good intentions and I'm sure they had their good reasons for shuddering their doors."
"Okay," says Cornelius, "Don't go there if'n you want, but how's come some of those church folk was able to make it to town to shop that day, but not to church. One local feller I know of even made it all the way to Moline, the hour he should have been in church. And, he says, I wanted to be in church, but the doors was closed. In fact, they was locked, a state of affairs that never happened when I was a young'n!"
Now, I think some of you readers are begin'n to see Ole Cornelius Farkwad pays no never mind to me and my requests when he's got a subject he intends to "jawbone" on for awhile.
Cornelius I says, "Stop it! I'm not going there, you're spoil'n my appetizers. In fact, if'n you keep it up, you'll also spoil my whistle for the Midnight Hurrah".
But, he says, "I don't think we were anymore tough or anymore dedicated than folks of today are. What's the difference? Why the closed door now, when not before in days of old? Have they got too many other social things to fill up their time?
"Their cars are safer, warmer, faster, and more reliable than autos of old and/or ole "Bob" our buggy horse. They got more safety today too, with seat belts laws, child restraint laws, and officers to see that they are enforced."
Now, I'm a want'n by now, for sure, to close this conversation down and get on to more interesting and less controversial subjects like "What came first the chicken or the egg?", or "How many words can you put on the tip of a needle?", or "Who caught the biggest fish last summer?" But Cornelius won't have it, as he wants a solid answer. So, I gives him the truth, right betwixt the eyes.
"First of all, we got us a good compliment of law officials in these parts. Always have, for example the State Police and in Henderson County- Louden, Carlson, Thompson, Lumbeck, and the present Hancock County Sheriff John Jefferson, and even more. So it ain't that safety is an issue because they are always there to help.
"Cornelius," I says. "There's two things we got today that you'ns didn't have years ago."
"What's that?" he demands!
"Well, here they are: Number one, we got the weatherman with plenty of means of sensationalizing and spreading his predictions on TV, radio, and even the Internet. We are bombarded with it on a regular systematic dose.
"Number two. We got's the chill factor or I'm think'n the weather man refers over and over again to it as "wind chill".
"You didn't have much of a weather reporter in those days of old aside from the direction the hay dust blew when feed'n the cows.
"Also, you had no means, such as radio or TV to sensationalize and disseminate, even for what little weather knowledge you had.
"If deep snow came, you got out the Bob sled or cutter sleigh. If you had no snow, you used the buggy. Colder weather brought on a heavier lap robes and you warmed a brick for your feet.
"You had it bad, but nobody was smart enough or able enough to let you know it was so, and in your stupidity, you made a frolic of it.
"It's kinda like when we had poor financial times years ago. Everyone was in the same boat, so no one really knew they were poor in comparison.
"In your ignorance, you had bad weather but in comparing it to your forefathers under harsher conditions, you thought it was good.
"Somebody should have told you fools to stay home and feel sorry for yourself, but in your uninformed foolishness, you made do.
"Kinda like the early pioneers of Henderson and Hancock counties. Today, there would be Federal laws protecting you from yourself, in risking what it took to settle this wild country back then.
"Besides, they should have had a 911 number to call for multiple infractions those early pioneers took like: Child endangerment, unnecessary and reckless risks, sod busting and swamp draining.
"Inhumane treatment of your wife would have been good for starters, because she wore dresses all winter long.
"Secondly, now that we have the "Chill Factors', you really know how cold you are if'n you were outside in the wind without adequate clothing or no clothes on.
"You really never knew before, the risks you were taking or how cold you were supposed to be. Not knowing that, you took unnecessary chances and had fun when you should have stayed in doors scowling. Lucky us today. We have the "Boob Tube" and know enough not to have winter fun.
Cornelius says, "I don't know about "Chill Factor'. I never went outside without any clothes on either and I didn't go outside without adequate clothes in the winter time. I went to church, dressed and prepared for the unexpected."
"Well, look at it this way, Cornelius, I says, the chill factor is kinda like what happens when you and the boys are at the local coffee shop, work'n over the latest tall tale on a neighbor and in he walks with a smile on his face and a pleasant greeting.
"That feel'n, right at that moment, is what the weatherman is talking about. The room temperature hasn't changed but a wind has put a chill to the air.
"It's much like global warming. We don't understand it, but hearing about it on a regular and heavy dose sure scares the thunder out of us and causes us to change our ways."
That was almost too much for ole Cornelius. He blasts back at me, that "before we had or even heard of Global warming we never closed off the church, and now with Global warming, we close the doors.
"It doesn't add up," he says, and that was his final word on the subject. "Thank Goodness,' I thought.
The rest of the evening was spent on more genteel subjects we all could agree on, like the high price of seed corn, etc.
But, I could tell ever so often ole Cornelius had that far off look in his eye, pondering the Chill Factor, the weatherman, and global warm'in.
Love ya all, and don't get hung up on the small stuff!
Too bad one of the youn'ns wasn't there that night to help me explain to ole Cornelius how foolish they really was in them "Good Old Days".
See you in Church Sunday, and Cornelius had better be there!
Catch Ya Later,