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It has been an amazing century

POSTED: June 18, 2014 4:00 a.m.

With all the flurry some friends are making about my upcoming 90th birthday, and with watching the CNN specials on the momentous changes our nation made in the '60s, I've been made particularly aware of the amazing changes that I have witnessed in this near-century that I've lived.

Just in everyday living, our homes have been transformed.

In rural Murray County, where I was born, as in Dawson County, an indoor bathroom with running water was almost non-existent. Although our family had a Delco plant which supplied lights for the single bulbs that dropped from ceilings in the middle of each room, there was no general available electricity.

Heating and cooking was provided by wood and coal stoves and fireplaces. Air-conditioning came through windows propped up with sticks and doors left open and unlocked. Lucky were those who lived in an area where an iceman came through once a week and delivered a big block of ice.

There were a few telephones operating on "party lines," which included a number of families who could turn a crank and ring each other or maybe go through a central switchboard (operated by a person) to another party line. Because a railroad ran through our little town, we received mail thrown off (in A leather bag) and hand-delivered to the post office once a day; gathering at the post office to await that delivery was a social occasion.

Much of the social life of a community centered around churches, and since there were few automobiles, there were many churches within walking distance. Happiness was being able to afford a bicycle and therefore having a better ability to go visiting. And people did a lot of visiting because that was the way to keep up with what was going on.

Living through the Great Depression was not as difficult for rural and small-town residents because we had cows, pigs, chickens and gardens, so we didn't go hungry. Clothing "hand-me-downs" were not frowned upon, but joyfully received. However, we welcomed FDR's many job-providing "New Deal" programs. How would we have survived without them?

Living through World War II, of course, brought a myriad of changes. Unlike Korean, Vietnam and Middle East conflicts, that war affected everybody. And for those whose loved ones returned, life was easier after the war.

There are those who feel that it became too easy. But as more people could go to college or get special skills training and buy homes and cars and wonderful new inventions, such as television sets, the future looked promising.

Although I worked as a secretary (at Fort Myer, Va., in the D.C. area) during the latter part of that war period, my education was geared toward a teaching career.

So, from 1940 until retirement in 1980, I was in and out of college and several school systems - in addition to becoming a wife and mother.

Thus, I am particularly cognizant about the tremendous changes in the field of education. I well remember how overjoyed I was when mimeograph machines and overhead projectors became available. I am completely lost in today's electronic school rooms.

However, most of you who read this column are also aware of the many changes in the last three decades, so no comment is needed. Dawson County, for example, is a quite different place since 1982, when Morris and I moved here.

It's no wonder that many of us have become so forgetful: Our brains and senses have been bombarded with so many things.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.

 

 

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