by Mel Griffith
It is amazing how spoiled we have become because of modern technology and how rarely we stop to think about it. Our air conditioner has been out of order for a few days and we don't know how to live without it.
But when we grew up there was no air conditioning and we never missed it because we never had it. When I went to work at LSU in Baton Rouge in 1965 the building wasn't air conditioned for several years and was hotter and more humid there than here. My wife doesn't think it is possible to cook without air conditioning but in the old days there was not only no air conditioning, cooking meant firing up a wood burning stove and waiting for it to get up to temperature. It was not only a lot hotter than modern stoves, it had to keep burning longer. Of course that was nice in the winter, when the home was always cold.
We get annoyed now if the water pressure is a little low, but back then getting some water meant drawing it out of a well, or for some families, carrying it from a spring.
Instead of families cranking up a tractor and getting right to work, there was a long preparation cycle each morning when horses were used, beginning with feeding and watering the horses, currying them to keep trash from getting under the harness and irritating them and putting on the harness. Only then were we ready to hook up. Then there was always the danger of a "runaway" if something spooked the horses, which could demolish valuable farm equipment and possibly injure someone.
There was no electricity out in the country, some of the appliances which we can't live without such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves or toasters were available. Of course there was no TV anywhere. There were battery-powered radios but batteries were expensive, so casual listening was pretty limited. There weren't any telephones either so communication was slow. Even after there were telephones long distance calls were a big deal, because they were expensive. Getting a long distance call usually meant that some big event, either good or bad had taken place.
Trips to town weren't that easy, even for those who had cars. Roads were only paved in town and roads were dusty when it was dry and muddy when wet. Trips weren't made for minor reasons, such as just to eat a meal. Those lucky enough to have a car usually had only one, so a breakdown stopped travel. Now most of us are able to just use another vehicle until one is repaired.
We have come a long way in the lifetime of one generation. It's good to stop and reflect on how lucky we are to live in a country where this kind of progress is possible. Many parts of the world with good resources haven't this kind of progress. The difference comes down mostly to good government. We need to choose carefully when we vote to insure those we elect are the kind of people who will continue to move the country forward.