Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I wax no stalgic

I had a wonderful childhood, growing up in farm land  where everything was dangerous and exciting, but my overprotected grandson is bored.
My parents graduated from Central Michigan University and to protect us from the polio epidemic, they bought a farm house in the country.
Neighbor kids threw dried cow dung at each other like frisbees, and rode in the open bed of pick up trucks.
We jumped from haylofts, sometimes into a pen with a bull to outrun.
We treasured lead toys bigger than our hands, about as heavy as a bowling ball, and painted with lead paint, like the walls of our bedrooms.
Dentists put mercury in our fillings.
Our homes were insulated with asbestos.
We explored dense forests and gravel pits, four to eight children fearlessly led by an eight or nine year old and no one could swim.
Wasps nested under the outhouse holes where we set our posteriors.
There were lots of smells: outhouses, chicken coops, cows, kids that only took a bath once a week in a steel tub heated by tea kettles, but we were used to the odor of ourselves and each other and impervious to germs.
My grandson asked today if we are poor, because we eat a lot of chicken.
Some of my neighbors were so poor, they lacked electricity and indoor running water but they were only poor in earnings.
We were rich in all the ways that mattered, and we knew it.
Everyone owned land, Mother sewed us lovely clothes, we were never hungry or alone.
My grandson does not know that vegetables and tomatoes grow in dirt, or that it takes months to raise a baby chick, so it is eventually possible to steal its eggs and one day cut its head off, hold its feet and dunk its body into boiling water, twist and pull hot feathers off, burn off pin feathers with a candle, cut off neck and feet, extract gizzards, liver, egg sacs and worse, then cook it for three or four hours.
He does not know the meat he eats was once alive, and it died painfully to feed him.
He does not know that someone very poor and far away sews his jeans, jackets and t-shirts.
He is less rich than me when we lived on a farm.

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