Tuesday, March 12, 2024



I don’t sleep well, usually about six hours a night.   The cat gets me up early to feed her – sometimes I go back to bed, but more often I stay up.

Usually, I am semi-awake for about an hour before I get up, and my mind tends to reminisce.

I am not thinking about my childhood in a narrative, like Truman Capotes in To Kill A Mocking Bird. 

 I tend to reminisce about the drastic differences in the world of yesterday - compared to today.

I don’t think the young people today have any knowledge, or even care about life before cell phones.

My youngest years were in Kentucky.   My grandmother raised me, and I was preschool age during the Second World War.   Times were hard.  Basic staples like sugar, coffee, and certain food groups were rationed.   You had to have ration stickers to buy automobile tires and other items that were deemed necessary to the war effort (Of course, we didn’t have a car.)  People hung small flags in their windows with stars to represent family members in the war – a gold star meant the family member had been killed.

 When I started school we lived in a house that had no heat except for fireplaces.   My grandmother would start a fire in the hearth by pouring kerosene on coal to light it.   She dressed me in front of the fire.     When I was eight we moved to a small town in the Mississippi Delta..

If you did not own a car the mode of travel during the 1940’s was by train or bus.   We took a Greyhound bus from Kentucky to Mississippi.

We moved into a two rooms apartment between the train tracks and a Chinese grocery store.   The place was clean, but run down – a low-rent type of apartment.   The front room was the bedroom with one bed a wooden chair and a dresser, a small bathroom was attached, and the small back room was the kitchen.   The Kitchen had an ice box.   The top door opened to a metal box to contain ice and the bottom door had one shelf for food that required cooling. We could use an ice pick to chip off ice for cold drinks.  There was an ice house in town and they delivered ice once a week: they offered a twenty-five-cent block and a fifty-cent block – probably ( I am not sure) a penny-a-pound. 

There was also a kerosene cook stove that had a one-gallon glass jar of kerosene inverted into the fuel catch.   I believe there was probably a pilot light but it was turned off because of the summer heat, so my grandmother had to light the burner with a rolled-up piece of paper.    

 The train came through twice a day, once around mid-morning and again just before dark.  The house shook as the train went by. 

We only stayed there one month and then moved across town (three blocks) into one half of a shotgun house owned by an older couple. 


A hall ran from the front door to the back door and on each side of the hall were three rooms. Each room had a door.  The house faced north and we had the three rooms on the east side.   The front two rooms were our bedrooms, I slept in the front room and my grandmother in the middle room.   The back room was a kitchen. The ceilings were high, and a cloth-covered electric cord hung down about three feet from the center ceiling in each room with a bare lightbulb on the end.   The lights were turned on by a push button switch by each door.  The top button was white and the bottom button was black. 


The bathroom was off the back kitchen.  It was barely large enough for a hot water tank, a toilet, a sink, and a tub – probably about eight feet by eight feet.   Town water was from an artesian well, located beside a creek which ran through the center of town. When you filled the tub the water was yellow, sometimes nearly brown.

Each room had a gas radiant stove for heat.  The ceramic squares above the gas jets would heat up and glow red and transfer heat into the rooms.   In the winter we only heated the center room and the kitchen.  Temperatures rarely dropped below freezing in the Delta, so keeping water pipes from freezing was not a problem.

There was a screen porch across the front of the house and we were across the street from the Baptist Church, so on Sunday mornings we could sit on the porch and hear the preacher yelling hell and brimstone at his congregation.

The greatest thing about the apartment was the large Philco radio in the front room. 

School was released at four o'clock each day and I would rush home to be in front of the Radio at five for the children’s hour.   I would listen to Sky King, Wild Bill Hickok, or Sargent Preston of the Yukon and his wonder dog King.   On Saturday mornings from nine to eleven, I listened to Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders, Straight Arrow, The Adventures of Superman, or Buck Rogers.     Straight Arrow was my favorite.   Nabisco Shredded Wheat offered Straight Arrow Indian cards in their box - I didn't like Shredded Wheat but I ate the cereal to get the cards.        

Sunday nights were programs for adults, but I would listen to Amos and Andy, The Saint, The Fat Man,  Inner Sanctum, or The Shadow.   My early childhood revolved around the radio shows.  Listening to the radio required imagination.  

Children today do not have imagination. I wonder what Darwinian DNA modification is taking place as young children play video games and watch videos on their cell phones.

 Instead of videos, we had comic books.  GI Joe, Battle Brady, Superman, and Captain Marvel were my favorites.

For young boys, porn was the women’s panty and bra section of the Sears Robuck catalog – it was a more innocent time. 

We had a telephone on a party line and our number was 26 ring two.    As a child, I had no reason to use the telephone, but sometimes I would ask the operator for the correct time to check our clock. 

In the summertime, our windows were always open.  We used a window fan and an oscillating fan to keep cool.  Of course, cool was a relative thing, as the summer temperatures were always around ninety, often moving into the low one-hundreds.  Air conditioning did not exist. 

To communicate with people far away we wrote letters.  A postcard was a penny and a stamp was three cents.   It would take a week for a letter to arrive at a destination and a week for a return letter.   Life was slower. 

There was no TV.  People walked in the evenings and visited neighbors.   Houses were hot and people sat on their front porches, smoked, and talked until bedtime.

I spent much of my time in the summer at the town swimming pool.  It was across the street and no more than fifty yards from the creek.  The water in the pool looked like dark tea and you could not see the bottom of the pool past the four-foot level.   A black man cleaned the restrooms each morning and made sure there were no snakes in the pool.  Of course, the pool was for whites only – this was Mississippi during segregation.

The world I was raised in has no resemblance to today.

Today, everyone is stressed and in a hurry to get nowhere.   Gun violence is an accepted norm.  People are psychologically grafted to their smartphones.  Technology is doubling every eighteen months.  AI has increasing control over our lives. Innocence is gone.   Children can watch explicit porn on their computers or cell phones.  Climate change has reached a point of no return.   Our country has not been this divided since the Civil War and our democratic government which has existed for two hundred and fifty years may be on the cusp of imploding.

UFologists are always looking for aliens visiting Earth.  The truth is that people my age are aliens.  We come from another planet in spacetime.


the Ol'Buzzard







  1. I put the demise of America on two things, air conditioning and the television. They both took people off the front porch where they could watch the neighborhood and visit with neighbors walking by. Eventually hours enclosed the porches and new ones didn't have porches. We lost touch with neighbors and soon we didn't know each other.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."