A Different World

This Labor Day weekend is the annual Steam Thrasher Reunion in Rollag, Minnesota. It’s time to take it on back to the good old days, the simple days.

It was simple because there wasn’t all this technology we have today. At the same time, there was a lot more of hard work from making a living to everyday life.

Years ago, tractors and trains ran on coal. Coal is known as black gold. Coal was also used to heat people homes. A lot of people made a living working the coal mines. Country Queen, Lorretta Lynn is known as the Coal Miner’s daughter; because her father was a coal miner. A person didn’t get as rich working the coal mine like those who works the oil fields. It wasn’t the healthiest either. Those who works the coal mines would contract black lung disease. Coal wasn’t really the cleanest for heating your home and to used. It would turned the walls black in the house.

Some would even burn woods that they chopped themselves. Not just in a fireplace, like the rich; but rather woodstoves.

They also used kerosene for their lantern. Not many people had electricity; especially out in the country. People didn’t stayed up as late as they do today. The kerosene lantern only lasted so long. Plus, after a hard day of work, a person was too tired anyway to be able to stay up real late. People did their reading by kerosene. Students would do their studies by kerosene after their chores were done. There was no doing your reports on the computers back then. People actually had to read a book for research purposes.

Even the clothes they wore were more modest. A lot of wool long underwear and clothes. Guys would even wear bib overalls throughout the day. When it came to swimming, young people would either swim in their underwear or go skinny dipping. It was usually in a slough, lakes, streams, or the river; whatever they were near.

In Rollag, Minnesota, where I grew up, they would honored and remembered those days at the Steam Thrasher Reunion every year around Labor Day weekend. We would hear the steam engines blowing 2 weeks prior to the event and 2 weeks after the event.

Many people didn’t have indoor plumbing. They would go outside to the old outhouse to go to the bathroom. Even when they got up in the night; they could see wildlife near the outhouse. They would even bring the old Sears catalog with them; not just to read but to wipe when they’re done. These outhouses were nothing like these portable potties you would see at outside events.

For fun, on Halloween for example, teenagers would tip the outhouse over even if someone was inside.

Even before there were automobiles, people would walked or rode horses. Some had horse and buggies or wagons that people rode in to get to town, church or visiting the neighbors; who happened to not lived as close as they do now.

Moving forward to when I was young, it was still a simpler time. A person would be outside playing until dark without worrying if you’re going to make it back home alive. Mothers would either call their children in supper or bed depending on the situation.

Before my time, when people took a bath, it was either in the slough or a wash basin that was usually outside. The water was heated inside and poured in the basin. You didn’t take a bath as often as we do now. Taking a shower was unheard of back then.

We rode our bikes without wearing a helmet, and still alive to talk about it. There wasn’t seat belt in the car either. You could fit a family of 6 in a car back then. It wasn’t comfortable. It will be 3 up front and 3 in the back. As the rule, the youngest would sit in the middle up front; and even in the back. Sometimes the 2 youngest would rotate when on a long trip. Sometimes, they would sit on the mothers lap; since the fathers did the driving.

Back in my days, people knew their neighbors and usually trusted them to help watched over their children as they play outside. Parents would carpool their kids with the neighbors to school; those who lived in town.

When we misbehave, the either got the belt or the hand for a whipping. If we cried, the parents would say, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” Some parents may go too far to the point of beating a child.

We didn’t have color TV to watch; but rather the old black and white. The kind of TV without a remote. You were the remote. Once again, usually it was the youngest who would have to turned the channels. You only had 3-4 stations to choose from. If you didn’t have the antennas on the roof, you had rabbit ears on top of the TV; which you would had to adjust to get a picture in. It wasn’t the best pictures either. Sometimes, it was very fuzzies. Sometimes, when you would change the channels, you would have to used a tweezer to do so. You only watch TV after your chores and school works were done. That was your family time. Much like when you would eat supper, also family time. That way you couldn’t get away from the lectures you would get from your parents, especially your father. You had to just sit there and listen.

How many remembered the old drive-in theaters? I remembered as a family going to Starlight Drive-in as a treat. That was our treat, not like today.

When we went on vacation, we didn’t have I-Pads or video games to play for the long trip; but rather we had books to read instead.

There was no such things as cell phones. We had the old landline phones. Some had the party line. When telemarketer would make their annoying call, it would be while sitting down eating supper. When you had to make a call, you made from home, work, or a payphone.

Life was simpler but yet a lot of hard work was accomplished. People were healthier back then because their was less poisons fed to us. The food we ate, especially those who lived on the farm were natural grown without any pesticide to poison us. Before all these vaccines were discovered, people weren’t injected with the poisons we are today.

Kids were outside playing; rather than inside playing on the computers today. I have to say that there is more childhood obesity today than it was back then. Even though, mothers would fixed a big meal and you would have to sit there and eat everything on your plate before you can leave. They would even put the guilt trip on you by saying, “Think about all those starving in the world.”

Do you miss the good old days? Believe me, I do! It was a different world back then. A much simpler life. The world had gotten too crazy. As the song goes, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”