Survivors

senior.jpg            We were born in an era before the invention of such (unheard of) items as television, plastic, velcro, computers, credit cards, McDonalds, video games, Toys-R-Us, roller blades, rap music, discount warehouses, jet planes, air conditioning, microwaves, cassette recorders, the “Amazing Vegamatic” and many, many more which today’s society considers indispensable.  Our period of time was even before the man in the moon became the man ON the moon.  Our hero, Buck Rogers, was the only successful space traveler.

We are survivors simply because we were taught at a very early age to ‘make do.’  The country was emerging from the worst financial catastrophe in history, The Great Depression.  Jobs were practically unobtainable and any product or service was almost impossible to sell; therefore, the proverb of ‘waste not, want not’ was strictly adhered to.

When the last strand of thread was removed from a wooden spool, we immediately sawed it in half and it became wheels for a child’s miniature car.  Larger spools were converted into wind-up tractors by notching the outer edges and adding rubber bands and a small stick.  Thousands of miles of roads for these vehicles were constructed anywhere there was soft sand.  Empty snuff tins filled with sand leveled and packed these thoroughfares.  Most importantly, this pastime cost no more than an imaginative mind.

We made rifles and pistols from any scrap of board that was not needed for repairs to the house or out buildings.  Shaping the board into a replica of a gun was accomplished with a hand saw and pocket knife.   Clothespins were attached to the butt ends to hold a strip of a discarded inner tube which was stretched to the end of the barrels.  The operation of these weapons was simplicity itself.  Aim the piece at the intended victim, depress the clothespin and the strip of rubber would quickly disable your enemy.

Bicycles were cost prohibitive for most of our families. Mechanical means of becoming mobile for many of us was in the form of metal roller skates which were clamped to the soles of shoes and tightened with a metal key. These were of little use to those of us who did not have access to sidewalks, parking lots and paved streets.  The deep sand of rural America guaranteed many scraped elbows and knees. The grinding sound from the metal wheels rolling on any paved surface announced ones presence, especially early on a Christmas morning.  If we lost the key, we were out of business until Parker’s Department Store began its annual “going out of business” sale.

Another method of innovative travel was through the use of homemade stilts (tom-walkers).  We fashioned these from cast-off strips from a nearby saw mill. They elevated the rider anywhere from six inches to one foot.  We were considered proficient when we could run while using them at the one foot level.

Games of the times were usually Chinese checkers, old maid, set-back, rook, marbles and hop-scotch.  We played baseball with a string-wound ball, a retired work glove and a bat trimmed from a slab, (again from the nearby saw mill).

The nearest thing to fast food was served to us in a converted railroad car that specialized in hot dogs and bologna sandwiches if we were fortunate enough to have an extra ten cents which was not needed for family emergencies.

We basked in the only air conditioned building in town, the theater.  A huge fan was positioned behind the screen and in back of a water soaked curtain or a tray which held a 100 pound block of ice.  The air blowing through the soaked curtain or across the ice kept the darkened building comfortable.  For .09 cents,  we could stay cool for hours.

If our families were fortunate enough to own a battery powered radio, many of our neighbors would gather at our homes on certain evenings to listen to favorites like “Lum and Abner,” “The Grand Ole Opry,” “Gang Busters,” “Amos-N-Andy,” and, of course, “The Lone Ranger.”

Our hearing talk of live, color pictures being transmitted by air waves; walking on the surface of the moon; inserting a plastic card into a machine and receiving cash; corresponding with others via microchips in a computer and flying coast to coast in just over four hours was considered so much malarkey.  Anyone believing in these fantasies was characterized as a ‘nut-case.’ 

Yes.  We are survivors;  Not by choice but by necessity.  We bear no permanent scars simply because we never knew we were deprived.

Who are we?

We were the inhabitants of a by-gone interval in time. We are senior citizens.    Demijon