Sunday, November 18, 2012
A Sense of Community - Sunday Adventures with Dad
Me and Dad, 1955
Remember when you were little, every time dad (or mom) had to run an errand “Daddy can I go too?” My dad and I were inseparable when I was little. Today all these memories came rushing back at me. Sundays are my hanging out day with my longtime boyfriend. His usual routine is that he has to go somewhere to get a cup of coffee - the local countrystore or the local gas station, so I just usually tag along. Sometimes we run errands, like today, we had to go get a new battery for the John Deere before bad winter weather hits. On the way back he had to stop and talk to a guy that has an old truck for sale. While I was standing there in the sunshine watching them, this wave of memories came flooding back about the days I used to go with dad everywhere. Mom took endless photos of dad and me doing things together. I was too young to remember most of it, but the photos keep that memory for me.
Then this brought to mind another thought, is this the sort of thing that my ancestors did. So many community connections were made and good relationship formed. Did my grandfather do the same thing, did my great grandfather? Standing there in the sun watching them I thought, what if great grandpa had to go down the road and visit a neighbor, maybe he had a part for his wagon or maybe this neighbor knew how to make one for him. I know living in the country now I seldom go into town unless I need groceries for the week. If we need a loaf of bread I just jump in the car and go to the local country store. What if great grandma was out of something for her pie, maybe she just sent one of the kids on horseback to the local country store to get some sugar or maybe they walked across the field to the neighbors to borrow some. Each one of these visits to neighbors or local businesses helped to form relationships in their small community.
Maybe a certain person in the community did blacksmith work so the word was passed around the community. Maybe the old widow down the road sold eggs for extra income or maybe she did mending. The word was spread around to all the women in the community. Neighbors helped neighbors so this fostered a sense of community. Sometimes a day long trip had to be made into town or to see a particularly important person to the family in some other town. That sense of community was spread a little farther. Maybe the man at the barbershop would ask, “How are things out your way?” Then the news from the far reaches of the county would be conveyed to other folk in other parts. Maybe in turn we would learn of a new technique to plow a field or learn about the new doctor in town.
Communication was by word of mouth, our ancestors had no televisions or internet. People were the center of their lives, not things. All these interactions and relationships formed a sense of community. We need to remember that our ancestors might have formed many, many interrelationships with their neighbors – close and far. Every time I visit a neighbor I think of the relationships we will form, can they help me out sometime, can I help them sometime. Will these relationships last a lifetime? Will they influence my life somehow, I'm sure they did our ancestors. I think of how so many of my ancestors would move out west only after someone would come back home and tell them of the new and better land they would find. These had a profound effect on their lives too. We need to get back to the values of our ancestors; we need to go back to a people-centered community.