I ran into another topic today. I was asked if I it didn't bother me to play so heavily on "Americanism" and didn't I think that I was on an awful high horse?
Well, quite frankly, NO!
I come from an era when a mans word was his bond, his handshake collateral. My parents and grandparents didn't have a lot, but what they had they earned. Literally and figuratively.
My Paternal Grandfather Ben walked the 9 or 10 blocks to work in the foundry at the Cannon Bronze every day of the week his entire life. In northern Illinois that can get dicey. They had a car, but driving to work was a waste of 35 cent a gallon gas. The car was for special occasions or calling on folks. Every morning my Grandma got up, fried an egg and sent gramps off with his thermos of coffee and a fried egg sandwich. This went on for at least 45 years.
My paternal grandmother Zola had lived through the great depression, and had no intention of reliving the experience. After she passed away we were tearing down their house to make room to put in a trailer house for my Grandpa. The entire upstairs of that house was full of food. Literally. We hauled cases of canned food, potted meat, dried beef, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, flour, soups, you name it. But she was putting food away against the day. She often said "It happened once, it can happen again." One of my strongest memories of my grandma was all of us kids standing in line at Zayre's store. If there were a sale on something my Grandma used or liked but said "limit 2 per customer", all the grand kids got loaded up and got to drive the hour to go shopping. She would give us each our two items, the coupon, and the exact amount it was going to be and we would all go through the line like baby ducks following the mama duck. My grandmother was an exceptional woman.
My Maternal Grandparents were farmers. Came from a long line of farmers. My great grandfather cleared an island in the Mississippi River and grew sorghum to make molasses on it. All with a horse and single bottom plow.
That's the way my grandpa Leo grew up. Not long before he died he told me about his little brother. I never knew he had had one. Come to find out he died right after his baptism. It was an hour wagon ride to the church, his brother was born in the winter. He caught pneumonia on the trip and died of it. Gramps had bury his brother on the bluff north of town. But that story was delivered matter of factly. He wasn't complaining, it's just the way it was. There are no guarantees in life.
My gramps farmed with ox and horse all the way up to a John Deere 4020, and that 4020 was living in the high grass to hear him tell it.
When he got older and couldn't keep up with the growing farms, he went to work for the grain elevator in town. He unloaded trucks, drove some, you name it, what ever needed done. The elevator is on the river, and they need a tug to move barges around for loading. Well, grandpa built one. He welded a hull up, slapped a Detroit Diesel 671 in it and off he went. Found out he need a higher wheel for the empty barges so he added one on. Danged thing worked great, he sold it when he retired, and they were still using it a couple of years ago.
My Maternal Grandma Iris farmed with gramps, drove the wagons and later trucks to town to sell the harvest, slaughter livestock, you name it. She collected the eggs, slaughtered chickens, cooked, made the butter, the whole nine yards. In the winter they shut off the upstairs of the house, slaughtered a beef and some hogs and hung them. That was the meat locker for the winter. They cured their own meats, had a hand pumped well in the kitchen (which Grandma was very proud of) and used an outhouse until the late 70's.
They never asked anybody for a hand out, nor would they have taken one. They also never laid the blame for the problems they had on somebody else's doorstep. Just as an example, the flood of 93 took out my Grandpa Leo's home. While he was entitled to a FEMA trailer, and they were going to give it to him, he insisted on paying for it. This is about at age 85 or so. Then he grew tomatos, potatos, watermelon and stuff to sell on a stand in his yard on the honor system. Put all the vegetables out there with a metal coffee can for the money. He was pretty proud of his produce. I think it's what kept him going.
That's my heritage. I'm not trying to hold them forth as saints, or something they're not. They weren't perfect. They were just folks, but God fearing hard working people with a conscious that appreciated what they had. I'd be willing to guess those stories are pretty much the same for anyone my age that grew up in the midwest farm country.
I've always figured I come from some pretty hardy stock. I have always tried to live up to their good examples and not shame them or their memory. I'm not sure that I've always succeeded, but I've tried. When I knew I fell off the path I got back on. We do our best, it's all we can do.
And that is I think part of the problem. It just doesn't seem that folks worry about that sort of thing anymore.
I'm not sure what has to happen to get us back to that point. But we have to get back there.
Those people are the ones that put men into space and onto the moon. They defeated on of the worst murdering regimes Europe has ever known. "The Greatest Generation" is indeed an accurate accolade.
Ladies and Gentlemen, It's time to saddle up and speak out. If the quiet majority stays silent all will be lost. The minority fringes are the loudest screamers in the room and they're getting their way. We have to step up and speak for our positions. We can make a difference.
I'm not sure how this will play out, but I do know that I cannot sit by idle and let all that those folks lived and died for drain down a sewer. We owe them better than that.
In my humble opinion of course.
Enough, is quite frankly enough!
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