GRAVETTE Recently, I began thinking of all the changes I'd seen in my life. So many things I can't live without now, at one time I did live without.
Back when I was growing up in a rural area there was no (or little) electricity. Without this luxury we, of course, had no home freezers. We took our freshly butchered meat into town to the big freezers where meat was frozen solid and put in drawers. We'd unlock the drawer and pick up a few packages on our weekly trip into town. Or we cured our meat with salt. Sometimes we canned it.
There was no cable TV, no remote controls. Few people had television, and if they did it was black and white, with rabbit ears. Later antennas began appearing on rooftops. Of course there were no computers or cell phones, not even push-button phones.
When I was growing up we'd never heard the word "electronics" which our grandchildren depend on. I liked the modern age until it went electronic. I have trouble with those machines, but kids of today understand them. They are growing up in a whole new age with things we never heard of back when I was a kid.
It goes without saying we lived without microwaves, dryers (we hung our wash outside), refrigerators. Even after my father rigged up a motor so we could have electricity we still used an ice box and, once a week, would buy a block of ice to cool it. No air conditioners, and seldom did we see an indoor bathroom. Some stores in town had restrooms and I remember there was a restroom in the county courthouse in Bentonville. Most of us used outhouses.
There were few bridges - we crossed swollen creeks by foot on fallen trees. Paved roads were found only in towns. We kneaded most of our bread, certainly not buying white bread at the store. No power lawn mowers or chain saws or hot water heaters, things we take for granted today.
If we traveled anywhere it was by car. Sometimes a relative would visit us, coming by bus or train. There were no plane rides for fast travel.
During World War II we endured rationing of everything from sugar to gas. Somehow we never felt deprived, just a lot of pride that we were helping our country.
Can you believe there weren't even orthodontists! We lived with crooked teeth. My first visit to a dentist didn't happen until I was a teen. A doctor was seldom called, usually only when a woman had a baby and there weren't many specialists among doctors.
In the old days there was no class distinction. I guess that was a good thing. Everyone was poor. About the only difference was town kids versus country kids: The town kids may have been a bit "richer" as sometimes their parents owned businesses. They might have had electricity and running water. But, other than me wearing handme-down clothes, we were pretty much all alike - we had no spending money.
Everyone took their lunch to school as there were no cafeterias. Town kids walked home for lunch, while us country kids walked up town and window shopped. The first school I attended that served noon lunches was at Gravette. I think they had just built a lunchroom and my mother was a cook so we got free meals. Of course, we had to wash dishes or help serve up the food.
There were no fast foods. The only drive-ins were gas stations - we called them service stations because you got full service. With each stop your windows were washed and the oil checked. When my kids were growing up there was another type of drive-in - theaters.
I don't know if those were the good old days or not, but they were different.
Marie Putman, formerly of Gravette, is a longtime freelance columnist for The Rogers Hometown News.
News, Pages 4 on 09/09/2009