Friday, April 25, 2014
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Out & About • Patrick Lacombe

Last night, at evening services, our pastor was talking about things that are major distractions in life. You know the things that take time away from worship, family or studies. He asked our opinion and most of the congregation agreed that modern technology was a problem. Answers ranged from watching too much television to spending excessive time online playing games. When we returned home, I started thinking about my childhood and how much simpler life was back then before technology, and I wondered if I could make it in today’s world with the simple things that were available back then.

               I was born in 1955, and my earliest memories were of our old house before my dad built the new one in 1960. I can remember four distinct things about the old home place. First and foremost, we had no indoor toilets. We did, however, have a first class cypress wood outhouse near the back porch. I’m not trying to sound uppity, but ours was a two-seater, while most of our neighbors had the old timey one-seat facility. In hindsight, I think I would have preferred a one-seat outhouse, but as a kid I guess privacy was not very high on my list of priorities. I could have done without the numerous spiders staring at me while doing my business, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Second was the water situation. Now as Central Texans, we all know about water conservation and the lack of rain. We had no city water supply back then, just an old well in the ground, which had a bunch of dead frogs and other vermin floating around from trying to get a much-needed drink from the deep well. We only used that well to water our garden, which my Dear Mother kept up daily so we could have fresh veggies to eat. She also did a lot of “canning” to stock our pantry for the winter. The drinking and household water came from an old galvanized “cistern” that collected rainwater from the wooden gutters. In the rainy months, we could use as much water as needed, but in the summer droughts, we had to use as little as possible. It’s my opinion that most kids hate to bathe, and I was no different, so when we were rationed to only bathing twice a week whether we needed it or not, I was ecstatic, except for the fact that I was the youngest of three boys and I had to bath in the same water my older, dirtier brothers had just used.

Third was television. My earliest memory of a broadcast was the “Howdy Doody” show. I really had no choices back then because we only caught one channel on the old rabbit ears antennae with tin foil hanging off the ends for better reception. I even remember the old horizontal and vertical hold knobs so you could adjust the picture when it started waving back and forth. It’s amazing what the mind can remember from that far back, but I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night!

Fourth thing I remember were the numerous peddlers that would drive down our gravel road blowing the horn as they approached each house. Mom would run out to see what they were selling and negotiate prices with them. Some sold fresh catfish or garfish that they just caught in the Red River; others sold produce or fruit grown in their gardens. About once a week, an old converted school bus would come by with loaves of bread, milk, and other canned goods. We called it “the rolling grocery store” and it was handy because there were no nearby stores at the time.

I agree that modern technology can divert one’s attention from God, family and other important issues. Moderation is the key. Play your games, watch television, but make time for all the wonderful things that life has to offer. I guess it could be worse. You could be reading this sitting next to someone in a two- seater with a clothespin on your nose! God bless you all and have a great week!