I sometimes think I have lived in two different worlds during my lifetime. My dad and mom really must have felt that way to some extent, except they never lived to see the freedoms lost that have occurred since Dad passed away in 1993 and Mom in 1997. Dad was born in 1902 and Mom in 1906. I was born in December of 1937.
I found a listing of facts about 1902, the year Dad was born in Norris City. The life expectancy in the United States was forty seven years. Only fourteen percent of the homes in the U S. had a bathtub. Only eight percent of homes had a telephone. There were only 8,000 cars in the U. S and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year. The U. S. flag had 45 stars; Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30. Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented. There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. One in ten U. S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only six percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. There were about 230 reported murders in the U. S. that year.
I was born about three miles south of Norris City in the same farm house where my Mom was born. At that time we had coal oil (kerosene) lamps for light, fireplaces for heat, a coal and wood-fired cook stove, an outhouse for a toilet, well water that we drew a bucket of water from to drink, and we all used the same dipper to get a drink, an ice box to hold blocks of ice, and a gasoline motor operated washing machine.
In 1940, we moved to the west side of Norris City where we still had a barn with dairy cows and chickens. We still heated with a coal stove and cooked on a coal and wood fired stove and later a coal oil (kerosene) cook stove. We had an outhouse for a toilet, a well for water, and coal oil lamps for light. Later we got electricity. An electric cord with a light bulb at the end of the cord hanging from the ceiling was the source of light, and we had an electric refrigerator instead of an ice box holding ice. We then got an indoor toilet and dug a septic tank for it. We had to take out ashes from the coal and wood burning stoves. Our dog and cats lived outside and slept in our barn in the hay.
I remember the first sewer lines being dug in Norris City. They were dug by the WPA workers (Works Progress Administration). When I was born, automobiles had floor shifts with no turn signals; we used hand signals instead. I learned to drive in a truck like that.
We had crank telephones and party lines and phone numbers like 236L1 in Norris City or OLIV-6932 in some areas. A party line was where a number of telephones (from two to 10) were connected on one phone line, each with a separate ring code which meant when the operator rang one phone, everyone else on the line could hear the ring, knew who was receiving a call and they could listen in on the conversation. The telephone operator dialed long distance calls or numbers not on your party line for you.
We shopped at a 5¢ and 10¢ store (it was referred to as “the dime store”). A coke in a glass bottle contained 6 ounces and cost five cents. A bottle of Pepsi also cost five cents, but it had twelve ounces and its advertisement jingle on the radio was “Pepsi Cola hits the spot, twelve full ounces, that’s a lot, twice as much and a nickel too. Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.” A ticket to a movie at the Tivoli Theater was twenty-five cents, and a bag of popcorn was five cents.
Just think, I was born before television (we got our first television in 1955), penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, TV dinners, photocopy machines, plastic contact lenses, Frisbees, the pill, radar, credit cards, split atoms , laser beams, ball point pens, panty hose, dishwashers, clothes dryers (clothes were hung on a clothes line to dry), electric blankets, air conditioners, drip dry clothes, man walking on the moon, electronic games, battery operated tooth brushes, electric hair dryers, calculators, day care centers, FM radio, tape recorders, long play record albums, 45 rpm records, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt, pizza, instant coffee, McDonald’s, nursing homes, compact discs, thumb drives, DVDs, VHS, cell and smart phones, digital cameras, and computers.
Do you remember head light dimmer switches on the floor of cars, candy cigarettes, soda machines that dispensed glass bottles, small machines at restaurant booths to operate the juke box, home delivery of milk in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers (I’ve bottled and delivered them in our neighborhood when I was growing up), newsreels before movies, Hi-fis, S & H Green Stamps, metal ice cube trays with a lever, mimeograph paper, carbon paper, roller skate keys, drive-in movie theaters, Polaroid cameras, slide rules, and charivari (shivare) when someone got married?
We rode in automobiles with no seat belts or air bags, rode in the back of pickup trucks, rode bicycles and motorcycles with no helmets, drank water from a garden hose, and built gocarts with no brakes, and rode them down a hill.
We had fights and learned to protect ourselves and get over it, and no authorities got involved.
We carried pocket knives in school and had guns in our vehicles, and nobody tried to shoot up our school (they didn’t dare if they wanted to live).
We respected our parents, veterans, police officers, teachers, and older people in our community. We were patriotic and put our hands over our hearts, removed our hats or caps, and stood quietly at attention when the American flag passed in a parade.
We did not do drugs, so we didn’t have to steal or kill to get money to supply the habit or to get the guns to use to get the money. These criminals never try to legally buy guns. They always steal them or buy them from someone who did steal them. Criminals in prison have told me this over and over.
We worked with our parents and had chores to do so we didn’t have idle time to get in trouble or to hang out with a gang.
Our actions were our own. We had no one to hide behind. The idea of our parents or a teacher jumping on law enforcement when we broke a law or a rule was unheard of, and we got in worse trouble when we got home.
Now, it is ridiculous how the law sticks its nose in our business and tells us what we can and cannot do in matters that are no business of local, state or federal government.
We survived, and were happy without any interference from any level of government like is happening today. Less government, not more, is the solution to today’s problems. The longevity with some in our community living to around 100 years old is due to medical advancement, not government interferences.
We didn’t lock the doors of our homes or vehicles when I was growing up, and we had guns and knew how to use them. Criminals respected that and knew better than to fool with us back then.
I had a professor in college, Auburn Wells, who taught government classes. I have quoted him several times in the past, but I believe what he said is worth repeating again. He always told us “It is not the big changes that you have to worry about because people will rise up and protest and keep the change from occurring. But it is the little creeping changes you have to watch out for and protest, or one morning you will wake up and all of your freedom will be gone.”
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” (Thomas Jefferson) “A society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” (Benjamin Franklin)
“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care, and so on. The only thing lacking is freedom.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
The American people need to wake up before all of our freedoms are gone.
If any readers of these articles have any information to share or any comments, please contact me at Edward Oliver, P O Box 456, Norris City, IL 62869 or email me at email@example.com.