Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Well Digging

I enjoy listening to my parents tell of growing up. My grandparents too, when they were alive. I marvel at how simple times were then. At how hard working people were because their survival depended on it. Most people in the community were in the same boat. Uneducated, poor, no telephones, no tv's, nothing. Just each other, friends and the community to fall back on. There was no central air or heat. No swimming pools, no indoor plumbing, no wall to wall carpeting. Yet they have persevered. The next generation went to school. Most left the farm to work in factories in town. Some bought the first cars in the area. Others the first refrigerator. Or maybe even the first washing machine. They moved into small, but comfortable brick homes instead of drafty wooden farmhouses. They had telephones and tv's eventually. The small community culture evolved and adaptable not without resistance but it made forward strides.

I recall my parents talking about a hand dug well we had on our property. It was about 60 feet deep, rock lined with a concrete curb about the top open to the sky when my parents purchased the place. My mother had gone back to school to become a registered nurse while I had started my freshman year of high school. She took a sample to be tested to school for a project. I remember her telling us over dinner one night, that the instructor commented, "I hope your family doesn't use that well. " We had a big kick out of that. Of course we had a nice modern well dug, by modern equipment that was over 200 feet deep, with a tank and an electric pump. We had purchased my father's boyhood home place. My mother and father great grand fathers' had dug the well together. Little did they suspect that one day their descendants would marry and purchase the well together. I guess that is why they didn't have it filled when the new place was built, but honored it with new curbing, a new roof and a cover that protected the well (and us from falling in.).

I remember the days that daddy and I worked on it. I recall the conversations we had about the old place as we nailed down the new asphalt shingles on the roof. I loved the feeling of being tied to the land through out family history. I loved that they used the salvaged brick from fireplace of the old house to build the new fireplace. That they saved some of the old hand sawned timbers from the place to use again. I loved the stories of how even as kids my parents knew one another. Their families for generations back knew one another and regularly lent a hand around the farms. From raising a barn or corn crib, to picking a field of cotton together. I was always amazed at how hard they worked, how hard times were, yet none went hungry, or went without medical care or discipline or time for fun or just being a kid. That's a legacy I'm proud of.

I look at my sister and her family. They have worked hard too. The kids not so much. The oldest is now 16. Before he got his license, they had already purchased him a Jeep with leather seats, sunroof, etc. The family had already been on trips to Aruba, Hawaii, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. The kids each have their new iPhones, their iPods, Facebook pages, video games and more clothes than can ever be worn. They just installed a new swimming pool because the lake house is too far away at 10 miles to visit on a whim. I can't help but wonder how they kids will turn out. Yeah, they are smart, polite, well mannered, but what about those traits like honor, hard work, and simple face to face interaction with others. At their grandparents, all I see is them playing video games, texting or watching tv or even napping. Very little interaction with my parents.

I think of how the world has changed. I think of how my life has changed. There was a time when you knew exactly who you could count on if needed. It use to be anyone in the community would lend a hand for any reason. From digging a well to harvesting a crop. Then it became family and friends if you needed them you could call them. Now, it is whittled down to family. That is only possible if they are physically able and still around to do so. Sometimes it can only be financial help because that is all that is possible. How did we move from being tied to the land and community with history to the latest trend in electronics connecting us to people who can't even text, email, call or "poke" as a depth of measure of your friendship? Who do I know that would help me dig my well? Sadly, no one.


Ur-spo said...

I think after we go through this zany period of technie adoration we will come to our senses and dig some more wells again.

Mind Of Mine said...

A challenging upbringing can go two ways, some try and maintain the work ethic passed down from generations, to their kids.

Others, tend to go in the opposite way, providing for their children all they wanted but never had.

I don't think either is right or wrong. It is just the way of the world.

Ur-spo said...

Gee, isn't that well dug yet?

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