Of Pickup Dogs, Getting A Phone And Combo Stoves

Western Ag Vignettes

Who wants to go back to the old days?

Published on: September 6, 2013

When I see a mutt riding in the back of a Ram with its head hanging over the side, ears flopping in the wind, and squinting down the road, I think of Butch.

He was my doggie as a kid, and as my first four-legged buddy, he lives in exaggerated infamy in my ever-embellishing memory. While Butch was just a rat terrier, actually with three legs, who really didn't like me much, I tell my grandchildren of this wonder dog who helped me wander through the fertile fields of youth.

Why we exaggerate is not hard to figure out. We like to hone ourselves into TV story perfection, and then our lives have more colorful depth. Sometimes, I tell my grandson, I'd like to go back to then when I was nine and Butch wasn't under the birdbath in the front yard. But then the phrase "Take care what you wish" backwashes into my thoughts.

I hear people say the good old days were lots closer to perfection than these new days of e-everything and, as they say, things are really screwed up.

I remember older generations telling me of the installation of the first telephone lines, some which were rigged by users themselves who connected with the line down at the store. They just ran some wire along their fence to the house.

Lots of these same people tell me about their first in-house stoves, normally then a combo of wood burning or electric options.

Imagine! No microwave!!! How'd they warm up their chicken nuggets?

Such was the bucolic life.

One old farmer across the cow field, beyond the crab apple tree from my folks' invited me onto the porch where he and his equally-proud wife beamed showing off their first hand-cranked cream separator. It was state of the art.

Then there's that 100-year old copy of  USDA's annual handbook I still have where the front photo is a farmer sitting on a plow pulled by two horses. The cutline: Farmer enters the modern age of agriculture!

I think it was the sitting that was the breakthrough.

Ah, yesterday, what wonders did rise.

Life then was simple compared to today before the endless, evolving Starbuck's menu and texttwittertweets. Does anyone remember party lines, big Ford trunks, milkmen, The Shadow or red and white school busses and mail boxes?

Yeah, simpler but still it was a mix. Salk hadn't come up with the polio vaccine yet, and friends died. Highways were two-lane, and friends died. Asbestos was widely used, and … well, you get the idea.

So, do I want to go back and find Butch? Not really, but if I could get youth back right now and take with me everything I've learned (like investing in Microsoft), what the heck!

I always said I was born rich with everything a man could want except money. That'd be nice to tweak a tad.

I welcome Sept. 3, 2013 and all its inglorious blips and magnificent benefits.

Live for today, relish the good times, and make today the kind of yesterday you'd exaggerate to your grandkiddies.