Change is great. Technology is fascinating. Progress is essential.
However, it’s crucial that we maintain a link to our distinguished past. While time and progress marches on, as it should, there is still much to be learned by revisiting those thrilling days of yesteryear! To those of us who lived it, a review of those times are a comforting pause in a hectic existence. To younger generations who didn’t, it can be an educational and enlightening peek into what appears to be a less complicated and often impeccable world.
Revisiting the past also provides insight into experiences that today’s generation would otherwise never experience or even comprehend. Where else would they learn about vinyl records, drive-in theaters, jukeboxes, typewriters, flagpole sitting, Dippity Doo, bell bottoms, family dinner conversations, telephone party lines, lickable postage stamps, a milkman, full-service gas stations, hitch-hiking, bomb shelters, tent revivals, the Iron Curtain, hood ornaments, fuzzy dice, steam locomotives, car fins, iron lung, flash cubes, and dirt roads.
We could add people to that list of phenomenal memories, but the list would never end. However, I feel comfortable in adding one particular name because this man was unsurpassed at reminiscing about so many heart-warming and tear producing moments. Paul Harvey did just that on radio for 76 years until he died in 2009 at the age of 91. His listening audience was estimated, at its peak, at 24 million people a week. Paul Harvey News was carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers. The most noticeable features of Harvey’s folksy delivery were his dramatic pauses and quirky intonations. You’d swear he was talking directly to you and you alone.
To this day, you can find a large sampling of Paul’s work on YouTube. One of his most touching recitations dealt with a subject that produces vivid memories for millions of Baby Boomers and just might spark the imagination of today’s fast-paced, continually stressed younger generation.
Paul did a very touching rendition of a piece written by Lee Pitts in his book, People Who Live at the End of Dirt Roads. It certainly takes us back to a much gentler time and place … if only for a moment.
What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved.
There’s not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency that wouldn’t be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.
People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride.
That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is home … a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.
We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.
There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.
Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they’d be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun.
And there were no drive by shootings.
Our values were better when our roads were worse!
People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn’t tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks.
Dirt Roads taught patience.
Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly, you didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk.
For your mail, you walked to the mail box.
What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.
At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.
Most paved roads lead to trouble, Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.
At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.
At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out.
Usually you got a dollar … always you got a new friend … at the end of a Dirt Road.
If you enjoyed this brief reflection, take a look at the many other offerings you’ll find in our Generational Gems category of this blog. Share them with your children and/or grandchildren to experience the closest thing you can find to what we enjoyed as a family dinner conversation.