Sunday, August 30, 2009

The kind of America you trusted..an essay; not my life, but all our lives...once

It was the kind of day where you felt the humidity was gone and there seemed to be a snap in the air, cooler, almost sweater weather but not quite. Suddenly, my thoughts were accompanied by a soundtrack of more than just the occasional car driving slowly down the street; Cathy's littlest sister Janine was walking along enjoying the cooler air, dragging a stick through the picket fences, clickety-clickety. I walked by her, patting her pretty black curls, gazing at the picket fence and realized I still felt like doing that, too.

I'd almost made it to the town square when I saw old Miss Watson in her garden picking her favorite lavender roses. "They look beautiful, Miss Watson, how are they smelling?" "Oh, just like every year, Z....remember these won me the award 3 years ago!" She looked flushed but happy standing there in the roses, her sun cap on, the cottage behind her laden with white roses just about on their way out, drooping a little. Red apples would be so heavy they'd about bring the tree by her door down in a month or so and I couldn't wait for her invitation to "take home as many as you can, Z! Your mother's pie is the best!" Miss Watson had taught me English at the High School and I always worried that I'd dangle a participle in her face and that she'd give me that look. As I walked past her cottage, I heard her say "Oh, I hope it's from my sister!" and I turned back. John Cox, our mail man had given her a letter. I thought about Miss Watson living alone and finding a letter such a comfort, she felt wanted, she was important! She'd touch the paper's embossment later and breathe in whatever of her sister she could though she lived so far away.

"Your mother has a letter that looks kind of special there, Z, you want to take it with you or just let me drop it on by?" "Please drop it by, Mr. Cox, I'm going into town; thanks so much!" I continued walking down the shady street, Elms drooping over me like a green leafed tunnel, sun shining brighter at the end of the street, on the Square ahead of me, where the trees were less dense.

I must admit it brought a smile to my face to see old Pastor Thomas sitting with his afternoon snack next to Rabbi Samuels on the church steps. Arguing Jesus again, I supposed, but they argued with such facts and figures and such fun. I wished I had the time to go by and listen as I'd done so many times before. Pretty soon they'd stop eating, stop arguing and laughing, and play some chess. Pastor Thomas claimed he never got to win because there were more Christians in town and he got called away mid-game more often than the good Rabbi. We'd all just smile because everyone knew Rabbi S was better at chess and Pastor Tom relied on those interruptions by which he could keep his reputation. (Oh, Miss Watson would have loved the structure of that sentence, I thought! I thought also of all I owed her, she'd shown me so much in literature, had made me well spoken when I concentrated and even when I didn't...I couldn't say "me and my sister" or "orientated" if I tried...she'd introduced me to Jane Eyre and Rebecca, how could I have not loved her? I felt I wanted to rush back and hug and kiss her but figured I'd gone too far by now and she'd probably gone back into her cottage by now with that rose for some water and a cup of tea).

The Square was busier than usual this afternoon. Maybe the slightly cooler weather had brought people out. I passed the newspaper office and poked my head in to see if Mr. McGee was there. Sure enough, there he was, scribbling at his desk. He looked up with a smile, happy for the break.."Hey, Z, how're you doing there, girl?" "Pretty good, Mr. M, I love this cooler weather, don't you?" "Sure do!" "Mr. McGee, what's in the news tonight?" "Oh, not too much today, tell you the truth......the president's got a new bill he wants to push in Congress, you'll read it tonight in the evening edition if I can just get that George to get the air on his bike's tire pumped now so he has time to get them out by 6!" Politics, something I loved...I had to ask "What kind of bill? What do you think about it?"

"Oh, it's a bill you'll just have to read about if your Dad'll give you the paper long enough before his dinner! What do I think about it? Z, you know better than that.....I'll never tell, my job is to tell you the news, not tell you my opinion of the news! No self-respecting journalist would think of doing anything else!" I said goodbye and thought about how many times over the years that Mr. McGee had reminded me that it was up to him to get Americans the news and up to Americans to figure it all "the heck out themselves" as he put it. We all liked that about Mr. McGee. His son was off to some Journalism school in the East and they could be heard arguing about the news when John was home for visits. I often wondered about the arguing. I also wondered if John McGee had himself a girlfriend on that East Coast.

Mr. McGee seemed to treat the news like mail....nobody ought to open it but the one receiving it, and the deliverer oughtn't be adding anything that the sender hadn't meant to add, you know? There was talk about television having more news on some day soon, other than the news at five, film at 11 stuff we were all so used to here in town. Dad and I often talked about the pros hearing the news is quite enough, Z," dad often said..."...we don't need to be getting into so much of others' opinions that the truth's starting to hide in it, you know, even maybe disappear? It's overkill what they might try to do, Z, it can't be long before they've got too much time to fill on the television and they'll be making things up to fill it!" We'd watch Father Knows Best some nights and I'd smile and feel happy that there were people like us elsewhere in the country, smart people who cared about their kids and their futures and I wondered if Jim Anderson, too, thought too much news was just that, too much news.

The sun was getting brighter as it was going down closer to the tops of the Church steeples and the First Village Bank's high roof...the trees in front were glaring with the rays of the sun sneaking through their branches and caused me to squint. I stepped down the curb to cross the street and Officer Huff called "Z, you be careful, you know some of these kids drive a little too fast and it's kind of hard to see at this time of day with that bright sun comin' down!" Officer Huff had yelled things like that to me since I was about 4 and Mom had let me run for some bread at the bakery all by myself. "Officer Huff, I'm sorry!" But, by that time, he too had heard way too loud a "Rock Around the Clock" coming from Billy Jones' big old Buick convertible's radio and was screaming "Billy, turn your music down or I'll tell your dad!" Billy managed to look perturbed through his smile of affection for Officer Huff and turned the music down, waving to me with the other hand, and then turned the corner to his old brick house with the white trim I always admired, especially when his mom's red roses were in full bloom.

I finally reached Miss Flynn's Women's Apparel, grateful that my taking my time to get here hadn't meant she'd closed her doors for the night. "Z, I have that dress your mother wanted right here..it just arrived! She's so excited about getting it I had a feeling she'd send you by tonight! I hope she likes it! You know, it's made special in Italy, took a while to get here!" The box was wrapped beautifully, carefully, with fancy Italian stamps. It was fun for Miss Flynn to sell something not made in America, I guess! Mom had been excited to know she could get a dress all the way from Europe. I thought of the new advertisements and that catchy tune we were all hearing so much lately "Look for the union label, when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse......it says we're able to make it in the U.S.A." It was nice to think of people working here on products for us, supporting their families through us....plenty of jobs here, Dad said so often, I hope it stays that way.......sometimes, those unions demand too much, he'd say, and then where will American manufacturers be? I took the box thinking of about that, wondering if there could be a time when we Americans wouldn't want something made in America and why? I picked up a few more things for Mom in the Square and I picked up the book at the library I'd been dying to read had finally come in. I guess it took Melanie so long to read it because her Mama had had to go to work at the factory and Melanie had to mind her 3 younger brothers all day now. Things hadn't been the same at Melanie's for a long time and I worried about her, she'd changed so much since her Dad had left the family. She was short with me and I'd hear her spank her brother Charlie too hard sometimes. You could hear him screaming through the windows.

I walked home glad for my house where Mom would be finishing the roast and Dad would be home soon and get his paper if George had finally filled his bike tire, that is. I could smell the meat cooking and see Sally doing her homework at the dining table .."Sal, you know it's almost dinner time.........time to clear that stuff off and set the table, young woman!" Mom came out and tickled Sally's ribs to make her laugh.

It would be another nice evening here at home. Mom was thrilled with her dress, it fit perfectly, we heard about the presidential bill on TV and we read it in the paper which George had finally delivered, and it would be time to go to bed soon and dream about this country I loved so much, this America where you still felt like clickety-clicking a white picket fence with a stick even when things weren't going too well because that sound reminded you of your childhood days and you knew you were safe and all would be fine in the end, anyway.
z

76 comments:

heidianne jackson said...

wow - z you've outdone yourself again. so hopeful. it conveys exactly how I feel about this country, even now. and especially what I want my new granddaughter, laela, to grow up feeling as well. simply more beautiful than I have words for - you, my children, my granddaughter, this post and our country. thank you, z, for stirring my soul and giving me hope.

heidianne jackson said...

oops - forgot to select ...for follow up comments...

Z said...

Heidianne, thanks for bothering to read the whole thing. I know it's long for my blog...
I just wanted to convey where we were and where we are now......
if it's hopeful, I'm delighted.

Remember kids who actually turned down the radio without flipping the cop off, the beginnings of that dreaded union label stuff that caused the local Target store near me (we shopped there yesterday for the first time in about 2 years and were appalled) to have NOTHING (zilch, nada, ZIP) from America due to unions, of course......, where news was REALLY NEWS, where people respected one another......
I hope I got that across...

Thanks so much! xx

Jen aka Pinky said...

Z, you have a gift. Your writing is such a pleasure to read. I felt like I was walking with you the whole time...wondering where we were going next.


I live in a small town a lot like this one. I usually complain about this town, but you've helped me see some beauty in it.



Just a thought...where we once trusted in America, I think that we now trust in ourselves. I've lost so much confidence in my fellow Americans. I can only hope that enough individuals and families will have the strong desire to go forward and better ourselves as a nation.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully done Z. You've captured the feeling of those days gone by. I look back and feel as you do.

It may be construed by some as some of us just getting older, and resisting change, but for me, childhood memories are happy ones, uncomplicated, and secure.

I've said this before, and I'll chance it again. If I could give one gift to today's children, it would be a childhood like the one my sister and I had.

Thanks Z
Pris

Jan said...

Z..I absolutely loved that story about the way things were when you were growing up. I know not all families were like that, but America was pretty much the ideal place, where one felt safe, and integrity and character were so important.

My stepfather was almost illiterate, no education, and from the poorest of the poor, but he had so much pride in taking care of his family. He failed in many ways, but he did the very best that he was capable of doing...now, the way the country has become, there doesn't seem to be much pride, nor the sense that one should respect the rights of others.

I tried following some of the links found on a few blogs today, including yours, and I'm not kidding, but I felt physically ill,with a big old lump in my throat, realizing what is happening right under our noses, and realizing at the same time that as many of us who are able to see it, there are that many more who don't see it, or else refusing to see it.

That's probably one of the longest run on sentences, ever, but it says the truth the way that I see it.

I want to feel hope, but sometimes all I feel is a chill running up my spine when I envision the possiblity of what I see in my spirit.

Now, as never before, we need to think about the words of one my favorite,sustaining songs: "Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Hear my plea, hear me call, lead me on, lest I fall. Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me on."

I didn't look up the lyrics, because the way I wrote it is the way I sing it, and it gives me strength.

Dearest Z...I wish you would write more of those wonderful stories.
Love,
Honey

Faith said...

I too felt that safety as a child, no threat whatever just wandering around town. Even in 1960 in Berkeley people left their doors unlocked and their purses slung over their chairs at the cafe. That was all over with by 1964 or so. By the 1990s in Nevada I got flipped off by teenagers in a parking lot when I asked them to turn their boom box down, and when I came out of the store some of the trim on my old VW was missing. Sad.

defiant_infidel said...

You took me there, Z... I thank you so sincerely for that incredible work.

I live in the town and the very home that I grew up in. Things are changed all around me, like everywhere, but it is still a small, quite quiet little town in the woods. There are things of familiarity here still that bring me comfort and return me to 'how it was'.

In those special, hidden places, I can almost imagine that I am back in "that" time... because those pieces of woods, old dirt roads, mountains and forests look just the same. I relish those moments when I can remember and smile. They are getting fewer with each passing day, but their essence is so very delightfully sweet.

Thank you so much for this. There is truly no appropriate word for it but "beautiful"... just exactly like YOU!

God bless.

HoosierArmyMom said...

Wow, how nice to be taken back to a time when we all felt safer and the only agendas seemed to be how one could leave the legacy of American life behind for their descendants. And the "new journalism" has become an "activist tool" used to brainwash and manipulate the masses. It is no longer an honorable "getting the truth out to the people" profession. You indeed touch on the heart of the matter. Fantastic Z!

Martha said...

Dear Z, absolutely delightful! I really enjoyed it! :-) Hugs xxx

Miradena said...

Lovely, Z. Thank you so much for letting us walk with you back in time, to revisit that child within us all. That most precious slice of your life was so beautifully written and so warmly recalled that I could almost smell the cinnamon in the apple pie and hear the squeaky hinges on the picket fence gate. I am certain that the 'Z' in your story was the kind of child who would see beauty in the simplest of things, never quite realizing how much beauty she brought into this world with just the twinkle of her eyes.

Just the same as it surely is today...

Z said...

Everyone: This is not me at all.
Except for the safety I think we ALL felt in a lot of ways (even if our childhoods were difficult), which I tried to capture..such as:

-No terrorism
-Journalists who had integrity
-People of faith getting along
-Teachers who really TAUGHT and wouldn't dream of indoctrinating
-Kids who'd turn the radio off because the cop was going to tell their Dad instead of the kids today who'll flip you off if you even suggest the music's too loud
-the days when we thought America would survive the unions and there would never be a store with anything BUT American made items
-Two parents in the home
-mothers were only beginning to work and SOME of the problems which arose from that

etc...
Sorry for the confusion..this is ALL OF US...or WAS. I am born and raised in the Los Angeles area...no cottages and small town square for me, sadly. I envy those of you who had, or still have, those things!

I am glad you all felt moved by the piece...it wrote itself with information I've been storing for some time; I didn't mean it to come out as my OWN walk through memory lane but a slice of all of our lives...even with really difficult times at home, most of us could at least trust the above list to function, right?

I'm sorry for the confusion. xxx

FJ said...

A wonderful piece of writing, Z. I'm afraid our betters no longer see America as you did. It's now a place where the trial lawyers handle all the "small details" of American life, like health care and carbon taxes, because as the song says, "Daddy had to lie" (and of course, THEY would never lie to us).

Z said...

Fj, 'end of innocence' so well describes what I was trying to do here..Thanks you for that.
And the song :-)

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Sadly, I never had quite that same experience. I grew up in a tough neighborhood where I was pretty much the token white kid amongst black kids with angry parents who looked at us with distrust in these years of the early 70's, not long after the death of Dr. King, and forced busing, and urban crime on the rise.

Mom didn't trust the neighborhood enough for me to run the streets, and a serious shortage of any kids in the neighborhood meant that I lived in a world of books and my own creativity.

But my house was full of love, full of work ethic, full of education ethic, and full of pride at being immigrants, albeit from Canada and not some war-torn Third World nation. I grew up in a household full of the sense of duty that propelled so many of my forebears (and myself) into the miltary. I grew up a grateful, proud American kid, with a houseful of love and a sense that I could be anything I wanted to be. My grandfather was given a job when he first came to the States by a couple who had survived a concentration camp, so I knew at an early age about evil and how good people can triumph over it with hard work and help from their friends

So yeah, my American Dream was a bit different from yours, with chain link instead of picket fences, guarded neighbors instead of waving smiles, and surrounded by an extended family of grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins that gave me a secure sense of family and support, and with a deep appreciation of kilts & bagpipes.....but those slightly different paths ran parallel in the sense that they shaped us both into decent adults crusading for a better America for ourselves and for future generations.

I live in a town where it used to be picket fences and smiling neighbors. In fact, they filmed the movie "Radio" here. But gangs and crime and drugs are taking my little town of 6000 and making it the hotbed of criminal activity in South Carolina and it's a bit of a shame. If I had the time, money, and resources, I might run for local office to try and change it from within, but I'm a Yankee transplant and therefore the locals wouldn't trust me. So I'll have to be content to raise awareness from the Interwebz and hope that folks will take back this town.....

Wow...what a rambling response....

Miradena said...

("This is not me at all")..Z - that story was indeed a slice of your life - because it could not have been so wonderfully written if there was not a lot of the real 'Z' in it! And as I said above, it was beautifully representative of the child within us all! The 'Z' in the story was most assuredly as special as the Z who wrote it......

Thanks again for the memories -

yours...mine...and ours ;)

Z said...

Lightning, you really touch my heart; what a good writer you are.."chain link instead of picket fence" wow. It says everything, doesn't it.

I applaud your wonderful family for what they gave you in spite of the outside circumstances.

Miradena, THANK YOU...there is that romantic side of me, no doubt about it...How I wish we ALL had lived in this kind of situation.

I really grieve, I've got to tell you all...I REALLY grieve for what kids today are living through no matter HOW secure their family life is. There are kids today who'd read my piece as a fairy tale, and a boring one at that!

I often wonder about teenaged girls who have had so much sex by the time they're 18 that they can take their tops off in front of strange men, like Girls Gone Wild.
I wonder WHAT do they think of the way men treated women in older times, like as portrayed correctly in, say, Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson and Olivier? Does it not look lovely and good to them that men actually cherished and longed for them, treated them with such respect?
How do they cope with that? How do they juxtapose what they are with THAT? You know?

It's a small point but relevant, I think, to my piece. You think?

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Here’s how my Sunday went, whilst at my wife’s house in Sacramento, Fornicalia, the locus of Fornicalia Left Wing crap and bullshit:

We woke up to a much quieter neighborhood this morning because the blacks across the street got evicted three days ago and their thump cars and thump truck left with them. Good damned riddance.

My wife wanted to get a male-to-male USB connector so we drove to the Fry’s Electronics in North Sacramento. We waded through the young, fat, disinterested, heavily tattooed and shaved bevy of customers in order to find the one item we sought. There was no help in this area because it wasn’t a high-purchase-price item.

We took the connector to the bloated Mexican chick in her teens with overdone blue lids, heavy eyeliner, at the register who never made eye contact with us, spoke three words in a monotone, and gave us the impression that SHE was doing US a FAVOR by DEIGNING to take our money.

If THIS is my Fornicalia future – and it IS – then I want no damned part of it.

Small Town America? With a few exceptions, that is a total joke.

Makes me glad I actually DO live in a Small Town, 95 miles+ away from where I work. At least everybody here speaks ENGLISH.

BZ

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Oi...it was all those days inside instead of playing out on the pavement. I read so much that it made me a bit of a writer too. I inherited the sarcastic dry wit from my uncles, and it's actually harder for me to write something serious than snarky.

Y'know, I think I was 14 before I ever saw an *actual* picket fence, when my mom got remarried and we moved to Maine. So at least for my 4 years of high school I lived in the idyllic small-town America we like to dream of, across the river from where Obama had his staged and contrived Town Hall Lovefest in Portsmouth, NH. Living there opened me up and allowed me room to grow a bit more independent before I enlisted.

Sue said...

Perfect, Z...perfect.

Your post conveys the FEELING of the America I grew up in...An America that was full of hope, promise, dreams that could come true, and dare I say, even love for our fellowman...

Thank you so much for this reminder...My husband and I often say we were born in the "golden window" of the United States. The hopeful promise which followed WWII until well, can't say for sure. I do know it has passed much too quickly...I feel so sorry for our children and our children's children. If my faith in God didn't sustain me, I would have no hope...

Blessings, Z. Your blog is a treat to me. Feels like a 'kindred spirit'!

Anonymous said...

Sure wish Mr. McGee's theories and beliefs were rampant in our world today about not telling you what to think.


WVDOTTR

Z said...

BZ, what a story you write..(love the eye shadow stuff; boy, do we have terrific writers among conservative bloggers or WHAT?)..my experience at that Target store I mention above in another comment was a living American nightmare.
I felt LITERALLY like I was in a third world country...at least our check-out woman was rather nice and actually smiled. Of course, she spoke Spanish with all the other checkers and, frankly, patrons.
I felt like "pardon me, but...anybody speak ENGLISH?"

Odd, isn't it, that ONLY America has this situation. People, I have LIVED in France and Germany and traveled a LOT...I have NEVER seen other languages INSTEAD of the one that country speaks; no signs with 17 other languages, NOTHING.
NOTHING. They learn to speak the language of that country.
WHY NOT OUR IMMIGRANTS?

My grandparents couldn't WAIt to learn English, it was a badge of honor, they learned it, they succeeded, what the HELL is wrong with THIS BUNCH? My own husband does translation from German into English and the other way on top of a lot of other things he does! He's THAT good at English!
Our leftist moronic (wow, I promised not to swear on my site and now I'm faced with this?..deep breath, Z..)...JERKS (that word's so unsatisfying..) have ALLOWED, via political correctness, that America is SO "WONDERFUL" that she'd NEVER FORCE HER Language on ANYBODY What the........??

WHO THOUGHT OF THAT RIDICULOUS THING? WHY WHY WHY?

We walked around Target not hearing English....we looked at CRAP that was made in El Salvador, MX and China..ONLY. NOTHING (NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING) made in AMERICA.

HOW DO WE SURVIVE THIS? Do we need to hit ROCK BOTTOM and start building up again? And CAN we with idiot leftwingers who actually CHAMPION illegals? We have a president who APOLOGIZES FOR AMERICA for the F'ing first time in AMERICAN HISTORY "WHAT THE ...?"

By the way, you'll all be proud of me (I hope!)..
One guy was outside wearing a T shirt that said "YOu have the right to vote" ....And he had some young girl signing some petition.
Mr and Mrs Z fumed while walking around the store, mumbling to ourselves how "EVerybody who is legal in this country has the right to vote, what the HELL is that about?"
Finally, we walked back outside to get to our car and I had to tell poor Mr. Z.."Honey...you go on, don't come with me (he'd have killed the guy! and he's GERMAN!))...let me talk to him"

"Hey, everybody who's legal has the right to vote, what's up on your petition?"
Turned out it was about some electrical plant and nothing to do with the right to vote, only that we had the right to vote that thing OUT! I was actually ready to duke it out with that guy!

WHEW! I swear, I SO SO SO SO want my America back.........it hurts.

Z said...

Sue, we are kindred spirits..all of us are, sweet lady!
We all LOVE THIS COUNTRY MORE THAN OURSELVES and WE KNOW what it was like and we can place the blame SQUARELY ON THE LEFT.
HOW can we NOT? Sure, Republicans haven't been perfect, but man, when you look at welfare, and political correctness, etc etc., and how it's made SLAVES of our citizens? GEEEEZ!!! Thanks for your kind words.

WV...ABSOLUTELY.
Without a media with integrity, we are DONE.
So, we're done. Simple.
WHO THE HECK would have voted for Obama if they heard the truth?

Two things..only two things should have been known and they'd NEVER have voted for the man:

1. Bill Ayers. (bad enough that he killed people and didn't think that was enough, right?)..it's worse:

2. Obama TOTALLY lied when it was first revealed by THE RIGHT who Ayers was..Obama said "Oh, we only live in the same neighborhood.."
REALLY? Then, about a week later, it started to come out: WHo could be honest and say that when HE KNEW they not only lived in the same neighborhood but Ayers had Obama's first political fundraiser IN HIS HOUSE! And their wives worked together...and Ayers and Obama worked on boards together! HE LIED, people!!

And, when confronted, one Democrat pundit said "Well, it wasn't really a FUNDRAISER, it was a COFFEE" (i heard that with my own EARS!..a coffee isn't a fundraiser, you see! And, well..MAYBE they were in the same home but Obama never MET Ayers!?)

(@*#$&*()@$&#(*$#&


By the way, Mr Z just added "in Germany, you can go to the German equivalent of Target and there will be some foreigners but they will be speaking German; there are no Turkish speaking check out clerks only speaking Turkish"

WHat the HECK happened to this proud country of America?

The LEFT

christian soldier said...

thank you for bringing back memories--
of being able to play w/ friends -OUTSIDE-til dark -without worry-

walking to school-(just be watchful) by ourselves even to kindergarten!...
C-CS

Miss T.C. Shore said...

Love the post. It reminds me of the America my dad has told me about, but I never really knew.

Elmers Brother said...

I spent the better part of my childhood in small town Ohio.

My brothers and I had the run of the town. We could be gone all day and my mother never had to worry about us. Everyone in town knew who we were. If we screwed up (like the one time we went streaking around the block in the middle of winter) our parents got a call before we got home.

I go back once in awhile. It hasn't changed much. There's the five and dime (Ben Franklin's) downtown and Betty Kaye bakery, The Virginian Restaurant and movie theater. (made out with a bunch of girls in the balcony) and the town square.

There was a stag bar called Coley's, that served the hottest chili and a game of foosball to anyone who entered. Even though the bar and the owners have long gone, there is still an annual Coley's chili cook off and fundraiser.

I remember places by the scars on my body, from places where I wrecked my bike or the tree my brother broke his arm on while sled riding.

I love that old town. A place where you'll get your name in the biweekly newspaper for having an overdue book at the library.

There are times when I'm melancholy and miss it more than I probably should. I'll hear a song that will remind of my childhood or a school boy crush or delivering newspapers.

There's a lot to appreciate in small towns and you did a wonderful job of describing them.

Bravo!

Z said...

High praise, Elbro, since I never lived in one..I guess I just have it in my bones.
Dad was from Troy, NY and his stories are not unlike yours...lovely days.

TC..me, too! (see above!)

CS...we'd have played safely outside in the dark, too, if Mom hadn't insisted we were in bed by 7:30, even in the SUMMER! :-)

defiant_infidel said...

Talk about "great writers", Z... The fact that you now tell us this was a fantasy of your creation with the realistic tenderness of days past... WOW!

Your readers are excellent writers... and you are so qualified to declare that. You most certainly are too! I now stand even more awed than before.

Pot... Kettle... ;)

David Schantz said...

Z,

It seems that I have walked that street in the past.

Thanks for taking me down it again.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Average American said...

Z, I don't know how you did it. For a gal that comes from a big city and is no where near old enough to have lived that idylic live, you sure did make it sound real.

I was raised in a town with almost 3,000 residents. My graduating class had a whole 58 kids in it, and my mom was a stay at home as were most all the moms. The average family had either 3 or 4 kids and the household income was about a hundred bucks a week give or take.

If I did all my chores, I got a dime a week allowance. Once or twice a year my "rich" grandparents from Conneticutt would visit and Grandpa would always be armed with a pocket full of change. I remember how PROUD I was when he handed me my first 50 cent piece! That was a hundred years ago. Heck, maybe I'll just save the rest for a post at my own blog someday.

Always On Watch said...

My mother and grandmother used to have a saying: "Those days are gone. THIS is from now on."

The words were never used to refer to politics, but rather to the decline of someone due to a debilitating illness or old age.

As for the days when I grew up here in Northern Virginia, too much has changed to suit me. We've become an edge city. Hell, I don't even know the names of most of my neighbors! Once the mom-and-pop store across the road shuttered, we lost our sense of being rural and of being a community (Pardon the word).

Do I feel safe now within the walls of this old house, which used to be my grandmother's house? Nope. Not since that break-in at my home last April.

Politically speaking, I think we're more divided than I can ever remember -- except, perhaps, for during the Vietnam War.

A wonderful essay, Z. And it makes me yearn for times gone by -- on many different levels.

Ducky's here said...

Of course z neglects to point out that unions were a part of what developed the middle class that made her somewhat idealized view of America possible.

You pitched in for the Full Ayn Rand, z, enjoy your blue eyed boy but it's good to see that we take stock it what the far right has cost us.

Ducky's here said...

And cheer up, z, we've still got the biggest kick butt military anywhere even if we don't have any idea how to use it (witness Afghanistan).

Miradena said...

Alas, even in those lovely 'days gone by' - every pristine neighborhood had a trouble-maker or a vandal who thrived on creating disruption for the sheer purpose of attracting attention. After reading all of these wonderful accounts of promise and hope, it would be easy to say "there goes the neighborhood" when some snot-nosed, bully comes here only to kick some fences and knock down some mail boxes. Thank goodness this neighborhood is secure enough to 'duck' such random jabs as the exception and not the rule. But I suppose this would explain why so many picket fences eventually turned into privacy fences. ~

The Lone Voice said...

That my good man was a wonderful post.
Thank you for it.

FJ said...

unions were a part of what developed the middle class that made her somewhat idealized view of America possible.

Not true, ducky. Unions are what enabled an urban lower-middle class to develop, and what Z is describing is largely a result of a rural middle class coming to fruition in less populous regions of the country.

Z said...

Thanks, everybody, I appreciate your taking the time to read this long one. I'm very happy that I must have come close to what small town life is like! Happier that it brought back good memories for some of you!

Ducky, Don't look now, but I think our debt to China's producing a far bigger and more powerful army than ours is; don't forget, you leftwingers do a pretty darned good job of raising kids who'd no sooner fight for this country than they'd skip a big night of crystal meth.
"Kick Butt"? With OUR political correctness? With Murtha slamming our soldiers with no proof?
As for unions, the piece is about the beginning days of when they were effective and how surprising it might be they'd take themselves into such ridiculously high salary levels that we simply can't afford to buy their products anymore. Germans sell German products.......it's how country's survive and retain some pride.
That pride you leftwingers are sucking out of America as I type with the constant negativity and appeasing, apologizing, blaming, etc. Glad you read it, at least.

Lonely Voice, thanks....and thanks for coming by/

FJ said...

The great divide that separates us into two America's (classes) is PHYSICAL. In rural areas, independence is a necessary character trait. In urban areas, dependence/ interdependence is the necessary trait.

FJ said...

The only way to overcome this "physical" disparity is to make sure that every man has two residences, one in the city, and another in the country.

Plato, "Laws"

The city shall be placed in a suitable situation, as nearly as possible in the centre of the country, and shall be divided into twelve wards. First, we will erect an acropolis, encircled by a wall, within which shall be placed the temples of Hestia, and Zeus, and Athene. From this shall be drawn lines dividing the city, and also the country, into twelve sections, and the country shall be subdivided into 5040 lots. Each lot shall contain two parts, one at a distance, the other near the city; and the distance of one part shall be compensated by the nearness of the other, the badness and goodness by the greater or less size. Twelve lots will be assigned to twelve Gods, and they will give their names to the tribes. The divisions of the city shall correspond to those of the country; and every man shall have two habitations, one near the centre of the country, the other at the extremity.

FrogBurger said...

Great job, Z.

Ducky had to coin his ignorance once again.

da patriot said...

That was wonderful, Z. America is no longer like that in way too many areas. The other day I was flipping channels on the tube and came across the Andy Griffith Show and I watched a few episodes. I took comfort in the fact that there are places in America where life is still like that.

Anonymous said...

You know Ducky, this is a piece which describes a sense of what our childhoods encompassed in mid - 20th century.

I had the kind of childhood Z describes. It's not about unions or politcs, it's about an innocence that childhood provided, and a society which protected that innocence.

It's also about the freedom we had as kids, and the security we had to walk and play anywhere. We didn't need hundreds of laws to keep us safe, or to micro-manage people's lives.

I did not grow up in small town America, I grew up in Los Angeles. Unfortunately today, I can't go back there to that area. It is now a virtual war zone.

As usual, you continue to play bait and switch. Just once it would be nice if you could address yourself to the piece which was written.

Pris

The Lone Voice said...

The only thing that comes to mind is that Liberals are being seen for who they really are. Libs can’t stand this because every time someone gets their mind right Libs lose a little more power. When a Liberal is forced to actually defend his or her self, the usual reaction is name calling and yelling

Ducky's here said...

Sorry Pris, I was born in Alabama and we moved back to Boston early because dad was just a little too liberal.

Remember things as you will but don't speak for everyone. Because that little picket fence Protestant utopia may never have existed.

FJ said...

...it existed all right. Just not in BOSTON.

Brooke said...

Wow, Z, what a post.

It felt like Rockwell!

Z said...

Brooke, Thank you.

Ducky, I always get the impression that real beauty and goodness in people REALLY bother you, that you believe man is crap and young people always flipped an old man off for asking them to turn their car radio down (not), or people never cared that two-parent families were better for children than selfish moms who need a baby no matter what, or people skewered the news to serve their liberal or conservative agenda, or the mailman would run into you and ask if you'd like your mail, etcetc.
How's about the fact that it wasn't cute for young teens to be having sex until the last 2 generations or so, you think that's a good thing?

No, Ducky..My upbringing was CERTAINLY not 'small town life' but we were SAFE..my mother could let us girls out to play and never worry because the neighbor Mom would have her eye out when my own Mom's was busy with a baby in the house, etc...we never cheated in school because it wasn't right, or someone would tell our folks and that used to be scary because we respected our folks and couldn't let them down.....When my father tried to help me with math homework (i'm hopeless, by the way), he'd start to get understandably testy and angry at my thickness ("if one train leaves at 5 and the other leaves at 3.." you know the one!) and I'd go flying upstairs crying...not at how he hurt ME but that I knew I was hurting HIS feelings by having cried and run in frustration..that's true.

There were better days, absolutely... and permissiveness of the leftwingers has ruined America, indoctrination by our professors to the extreme leftwing agenda has destroyed us, a media which won't tell the truth is poisoning a river as sure as Gore's ridiculous climate change exaggerations are geared at ruining our economy.

And the Christian faith was the gold standard in America and Christians respected all other religions because THOSE RELIGIONS did not insult ours...yet. It's ONLY until the leftwingers started denigrating Christ in so many ways that our children have started to go downhill, church attendance is so down we can't give as we did to the community (wait for obama's admin to stop tax breaks to faith-based, I give it 2 years, so faith-based will REALLY be closed down) etc etc

You're just dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

Ducky, what does Protestant have to do with it? For that matter what does utopia have to do with it?

However I'll tell you this, compared to today, utopia seems pretty close.

When I describe my experience and that of people I knew and those around me, I assume the reader has some sense, and knows I don't speak for every single person.

Evidently I assume too much.

Pris

FJ said...

mr. ducky's roots lie with the Catholic Worker's movement. He hates all so-called "evangelicals," especially Protestants.

FJ said...

...evidently the other Christian religions shouldn't be allowed to recruit... they provide too much competition for the socialists/ communists.

heidianne jackson said...

z, i DID grow up in that small town america in southern maryland. and you captured it perfectly.

where kindergarten was nearly a mile away and - once our mothers had made certain that we (my next-door-neighbor, bill and i) knew how to get to school and back - we were expected to get there and back on our own. and we did, without an ounce of trouble.

before we were teenagers we would finish our chores on a saturday and make a sandwich and grab some fruit and a canteen of water and head out "to play." depending on the weather play could mean bike riding, fishing, hiking, rafting, sledding or hanging out in our tree houses that we built with a little help from the neighborhood dads. if any of us showed back up at home before the street lights came on (the neighborhood curfew for all kids under the age of 14) our parents KNEW something was "wrong".

in our neighborhood we had baptists, jews, catholics and other christians. we spent our time equally with blacks, whites and hebrews. there were no asians or muslems that i know of in our neighborhood, but when i was nine a family did move there from india and they were readily welcomed into the fold. no one denigrated each other's religion and you knew when so-and-so could play and you learned about each others' beliefs.

we didn't have a picket fence - in fact we didn't have a fence of any sort - and neither did any of our neighbors. the backyards of all on our street were shared equally - regardless of whether or not that family had children.

we knew that if we did something we weren't supposed to that SOMEHOW our mother would know before we got home we would be in BIG trouble. if we mouthed-off to an adult, we could expect our mouth to be washed out with soap - and not necessarily just from our parents.

i distinctly remember telling old mr. bloom (he lived on the next street over, but his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren lived next door to us) "NO!" when he told me to do something (can't recall what it was now) that i plainly didn't want to do. he took me inside by my ear, and bill too because he laughed, and washed both our mouths out with a teaspoon of dishsoap. nothing was said by our mom's when we got home so we figured we'd dodged a bullet - but when our dad's got home that evening we got to brush our teeth with a bar of soap AND write a letter of apology. to this day i have never mouthed off to an elder of mine again!

bill and i saved our birthday and extra-chore money to purchase two used lawn mowers - push style - and opened our own "lawn care" business the summer we turned 10. before the end of that summer we "employed" eight of the neighborhood kids and owned 10 lawn mowers. we ran that business until i was fourteen when we "sold" it to my little sisters. we were never cheated nor did we ever cheat anyone and every parent in the neighborhood watched out for us.

i could go on and on to counter ducky. my mother was from cape cod and certainly didn't fit the mold of the typical southern maryland resident (very conservative in those days), but she simply acted as her mother had done in the days when she was growing up - it was remarkably like how my father's parents acted and they were from mississippi.

it was a more innocent time. bad things did happen, but they weren't harped on over and over and over again on the evening news. our parents made certain to educate us in the dangers of the world (my dad would take us to d.c. with him when he would go to work and we would go to the museums and be expected back at his office in time for him to go home), but they didn't frighten us of the world around us.

my kids are all very independent. they know the dangers, but are not afraid to take a stand. i can only hope that my new granddaughter, laela, will be able to say the same...

sorry to post something so long, z.

FrogBurger said...

Ducky can be easily diagnosed: poor self-esteem and self-loathing. So he has to boast himself by destroying others. Typical of leftist thinking.

He's a weak man.

Protestants had the courage to fight against the big gov of the time -- the Catholic Church -- and they got killed for it. They had principles on which most of this country was founded and that's why he despises it so much.

I've been raised Catholic but recognizes myself more in the Protestant faith.

I don't want to offend Catholics on this blog, but often I say that Catholicism created socialism. And Max Weber clearly showed it.

Ducky go see a shrink and vent at his office instead of tracking down every conservative you can all day long. Don't you have work to do?

Ducky's here said...

Yeah I remember the good old days when I blew out my knee playing hockey and dad had an affordable health insurance policy back in the days when Blue Cross and the most of the hospitals were non profit.

It worked better.

Z said...

Heidianne..THEREIN LIES THE RUB, as I've often said "Bad things did happen..."

And Bad things SHOULD HAPPEN, that's LIFE!>>>..it's only since lawyers and the Left got so involved that we're crippled with such stupid and outrageous lengths to make sure IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED, SOMEBODY PAYS.

That's NUTS! Someone slips at the grocery store on a bit of water and they SUE ...it's crazy and it's debilitating to a society.

In Paris, where I lived four years (blissful, I might add), there'd be a hole in the ground for streetwork and it always disconcerted me because there was barely a sign warning you! They TRUSTED than an ADULT would NOT step down into the hole!

I loved what you wrote..thanks.....long but pertinent; nothing wrong with that, honey!

Thanks, FB... he'll never get over it.

Z said...

Ducky, I've asked you a ton of times for your version of a better healthcare plan, go ahead and extrapolate on what you just mentioned.

I hope your knee hasn't always caused problems...knees are tough to completely fix.

FrogBurger said...

Ducky do you work for a salary or not?

If yes then you make a profit.

Your profit = salary - living expenditures.

Idiot!

PS: I'm not sure you deserve your profit, either.

Ducky's here said...

z, I think you can find some clues right on the surface of my post.

FrogBurger said...

Why don't you work for free then Ducky. Or we could give you 1200 a month. That's the starting monthly salary of a French nurse working in a public hospital.

That should be enough to cover a simple life. Above that would be too much, too capitalistic and too materialistic.

We'll see how motivated you get.

Deyoge said...

To my conservative friends
I'd like to advise ALL conservatives/republicans NOT to post on these Liberian Hate blogs.
I like you are a conservative./ republican I am not a racist, and I don’t want to be labeled as one.
And that’s what all these blogs are about, not all, and by no means all the time , but the blogs by Shaw Kenawe and Truth Shall Rule certainly are.

Z said...

I thought you could,. Ducky..sorry

FrogBurger said...

Z, Ducky never answers specifics. Because he can't. He can only spew his non-sense without backing it up using facts and numbers.

heidianne jackson said...

back in the day insurance was more affordable because it was a major medical plan only. it didnt' cover well baby visits or childhood shots or doctors' visits. it covered the emergency room and hospitalization. and that only after a fairly large deductable for the family.

dr. susan treated everyone in our neighborhood. he was former navy doctor and when he retired he made the basement of his house into a doctor's office. he gave us stitches and shots and missed most of the medicine he prescribed right there in his "office." his wife was his nurse and answered his phone if he was busy with a patient. he also took care of our babydolls and our teddy bears when required and only ever charged us the coloring of a picture for those services.

people in those days budgeted for the obvious need for a doctor's care. sometimes my folks were short on cash, but when that happened they would barter with dr. susan for payment for his services. my mom is a crackerjack baker - i remember once she made a very expensive fancy cake for his daughter's engagement party in return for his having stitched up my leg when bill and i collided on our bikes. that's how the free market works.

with more and more and more things REQUIRED to be in a basic health insurance offering, it's simply an elementary fact that the price will rise in accordance. additionally, not allowing people to purchase and transport medical insurance across state lines and not limiting law suits against doctors and other medical entities all collude to put basic medical insurance out of reach of a number of people.

having the government take over things will NOT give better care, nor will it make it less expensive. however, deregulating the insurance industry and allowing people to make their own decisions about the coverage that works best for them - much like with auto insurance - will.

heidianne jackson said...

correction - "...missed most of the medicine..." should read "...mixed most of the medicine..."

Anonymous said...

Well Ducky, back in my young days there was no medical insurance. Amazingly, the doctor presented a bill and my folks paid it.
Imagine that!

No paperwork, or forms, no team of assistants in the office to do paperwork, insurance files, etc. Only medical files. That's it.

There was a nurse and a receptionist. That's it. In fact in some offices the nurse was the receptionist.

Yet, everyone had a doctor. We did not live in an upper class neighborhood, just regular working folks, including my Dad.

Pris

Leticia said...

Z, you definitely have the talent for writing. I could see all those places and people so clearly.

How I wish my children could grow up in a world such as that.

What my boys see everyday brings tears to my eyes. About ten years ago, we had a lovely and peaceful neighborhood and now we live in the hood. It kills me that we cannot leave.

shoprat said...

Don't look for the Union Label.

Look for the Made in the USA label.

Z said...

Heidianne... there are docs starting to treat people like that again...I honor that so much.
And you're so right about what will drive prices down again.

Leticia, thank you SO much. Your story is not unusual, sadly.
Maybe the more we remember the America that WAS, we can get her back again....as soon as our socialist problem in the WH is long gone.

Shoprat, remember when MADE IN AMERICA was the goldstandard? And when we as kids started learning the snappy little ditty "Look for the Union Label.."? We sang it with the commercial.
Little did we know what a terrible mess it would create for us.
In Germany and France, things are MADE THERE...and they do have unions but even their unions (usually) put the country first. Their people live quite well with salaries which don't drive up the costs so much that consumers must depend on HONDURAS for products.
When I saw HAINES is produced in El Salvador, I felt like weeping.
Nestles is closed, steel plants are gone...America's shutting down.

And the idiotic socialists either can't see that or don't give a damn.

shoprat said...

They see it. They just refuse to see the part they played in creating the mess. Everything is Bush's fault, even if the Sun goes supernova tomorrow (which it won't, it's not big enough) they would find a way to blame Bush.

Incognito said...

lovely Z! You made me feel like I was there.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
What a beautiful, thought-provoking post. I enjoyed reading it and I saw my childhood in it. I could only add that I had so many kids in my neighborhood that we had full-sided ball games in the street everyday. All the parents sat on their front porches and watched us play. Great entertainment on a summer evening.

As HJ mentioned, I couldn't get away with anything because all the parents in the neighborhood watched out for us and punished us when we needed it.

My dad never watched the political shows on TV because he resented people telling him what to think. He read the news section of the paper and avoided the editorials. He always said he couldn't understand how someone got paid to tell others what to think.

He said they should go work and earn their money the right way.

Salt of the earth.

Z said...

"I could only add that I had so many kids in my neighborhood that we had full-sided ball games in the street everyday. All the parents sat on their front porches and watched us play. Great entertainment on a summer evening."

I could weep. What a really wonderful thing for kids and their parents to do. Thanks, L&0.. i loved reading your input!!

Brooke said...

Hospitals used to be non-profit, Ducky?

Did they run off of rainbows and fairy dust? And if they were non-profit, why the need for insurance?

Or could it be that the hospital was a charitable establishment, such as a Catholic hospital?

Ducky's here said...

Isn't it rather presumptuous for the right to assume they are the spokespeople for what "all of our lives were once".

More than a trip down memory lane it's a reminder that the right should take the blinders off once in a while.

Z said...

Aw, gee, Ducky, sorry a short piece like this can't include YOUR family's experience too.
That's what writing's about Ducky....obviously, as you can see the comments, I captured metaphorically, and generally, exactly what I'd sought to do.

Maybe, next time, I'll write about a disgruntled family from Eastern Europe which still hates this country and finds the need to slam it at every corner, supporting abortion, supporting gay marriage, feeling that everybody was so sad and empty that they'd flip off an old man asking them to turn their car radio down, etc. ...all because they didn't live through the types of things ALL of us did in my story.
But, I don't think so.

Z said...

Ducky, there are tons of sad stories about families whose kids fell apart because the parents weren't there, drug use in kids from nice families and difficult families, children born out of wedlock on purpose in families with values and families who one would be hard pressed to hang the moniker "values" of ANY kind on ..etc.

And there are whole books written about the sickness of American society; or just read the highlights of the NYTimes kinds of stories or watch MSNBC on the weekend.

Happily, so many Americans have strived to do their best, to influence their children in good directions, and most of us will never stop that attempt; That spark is in all of us, and we intend to try to stem the leftwinger tide of less than healthy values, the coolness of children out of wedlock, the refusal to expect people to pay their way, the racism of thinking minorities can't live up to standards so they must be especially helped, etc.

Without those values which began America's slide, we'd have not been where we are. And, I know, some people look at that as PROGRESS.

I don't.

Anonymous said...

I think most people are comforted to remember a happier time. Most of our recollections are from our youth, which for many of us was a time when parents actually spent time with their children and did (gasp) parenting. I recall my grandmother playing the piano in the evenings. I remember being restricted to about one hour of television each day. I remember the white picket fences with gardenias drooping over, and Sunday afternoon picnics, where people teamed up and played softball, or pitched horseshoes, and young people took canoes out onto the lake.

I remember boy and girl scouts working within the community. I remember the town cop who knew everyone; I remember that the town cop having a talk with you Dad was far worse than being hauled down to the station. I remember for an extra dollar, grocery stores delivered goods to the homes of the elderly who couldn't get out as often. So I think that Z has painted a warm, wonderful memory of times gone by.

Of course, the emphasis is on times gone by; we don't have those things any longer. It is mostly because our country has nurtured the likes of people like Ducky, who if anything, is consistent. No one else (here) thinks that it is appropriate to crap all over other people’s memories, not even when theirs was far different from Z’s.

Honestly, I think Ducky needs years of serious one-on-one therapy, and maybe he should be locked away somewhere where he won’t hurt himself, or others. If it there is anything that we as a nation should be ashamed of, is that we produced two generations of people like him.

Mustang