News from Vermont #378 Age Is Just A Number To A Memory
|April 14, 2017
Hello again Maple People,
I recently had my sixty-ninth birthday which begs the proverbial question, “Where did all those years go?”. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I’ve lived through some mighty big transitions and, like all the old guys I used to make fun of, I’m beginning to say “When I was a boy…” a lot. Although I missed out on the horse and buggy days by a few years, I did see the advent of TV and, boy, has it changed! Back in those days, TVs were small, black and white, and always snowy. We had one of the first ones in our neighborhood. Friends often stopped over for a night of entertainment at the Morse home watching “Dragnet”, “Lassie”, or “The Burns and Allen Show”. Then there was “The Little Rascals” for us kids after we trudged home from school (no school buses back then!). We laughed and laughed over the antics of Spanky and his gang. Shows like that offered us not only world-class entertainment but total awe…we wondered how this could possibly be coming from a small box that sat on a table.
Oh yes, and thanks to Mother, there was usually popcorn, lots of it slathered with rich, creamy butter, produced from small herds of Jersey cows. Jerseys, not Holsteins, were the Vermont cow when I was young and the average dairy herd was small…only 25 critters! And as my dad, who was one of those small dairy farmers, would have said, “Farms were as thick as hair on a dog.” On a drive the three miles from our place to
Montpelier, we might have been stopped at several cattle crossings, shared the road with farm trucks filled with clanging milk cans, and seen hand signals pop out the driver’s window of turning vehicles. Those vehicles had standard shift transmissions and starter push buttons on the floor, too. They either started with the slow groan of a turning motor, or not. When they didn’t, it was common to push them to the nearest downhill grade for a jump start. Once going, double-clutching and gear-scrunching was everyday routine for men and women alike.
For us, traveling beyond Montpelier was rare because we always lacked either the money or the time. Just driving the 100 miles of winding roads to visit my Southern Vermont relatives took over three hours. (The interstate highway was yet to come to Vermont). We called our New York City friends, “summer people”, and it was always a treat to greet the latest group of summer people at the train station. Train stations, not airports, were our transportation hubs of excitement. Upon the arrival of a train at Montpelier Junction, my farm boy world suddenly came alive with crowds of people sharing platforms with steel-wheeled cargo wagons and “tramps” looking for a free ride to a distant stop. Train stops were quick and frenetic because schedules back then were tight and adhered to, come rain or shine.
Yes, those were my good old days, days before computers, Netflix, or space travel. Back then drugs were positive things, cigarettes were, as well, unfortunately, and polio was wreaking more havoc than cancer. Some things today must be making many of our dearly departed “turn over in their graves”. Heck, when I was a boy…. darn, there I go again!