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The Good Old Days
Were Good

by Ron Kitson

Young people today have thoughts of horror when it comes to our "good old days."

They shudder to think of what they consider huge voids in life back then. Yet, while I'm not about to move in with the Amish, I for one, think life was pretty good in our "Good Old Days."

For one thing, you don't miss what you've never had or heard about. We didn't say "Man, I wish somebody would invent television so we could sit on the couch all day, watch TV and eat junk food."

We had lots of things to do, mostly outside. We had a pet calf that played with us like a pup and always tried to follow us into the house.

My older sisters Jean & Shirley and I bottle fed three orphaned lambs and we still have this great picture of that.

Feeding Lambs

We'd take off our shoes and socks and splash in the wash water our mother would empty onto the lawn. Once old enough, my sisters learned to knit and always helped with the dishes.

I remember some great toys my father made for me. One was a wooden rifle that fired rubber bands. You'd hook a large rubber band over the head of a forward facing finish nail at the front of the rifle then stretch it back and onto a pin that was drawn down when you pulled the trigger. I was likely five or six years old at the time and I was ready to go hunting.

Another time, he made a "Popgun" for me. It was a hollowed out stick about a foot long (about 30.5 cm outside the US) and shot paper wads. Along with it, was a ram rod Dad had whittled with a handle at one end. I'd chew up a tight fitting wad of paper and ram it in the length of the ram rod which was most of the way through. Then I'd chew up a second wad and ram it in quickly until the air pressure forced the first wad to pop out.

If I made the wads just the right size, I could build up enough pressure to pop that first sucker out of there with enough force to make it stick on the ceiling. I don't think Mom appreciated those but it was a great toy and, like the rifle, wasn't made in China. It was made by my father right there on the farm just east of Little Britain and that made it special.

We had an outhouse for year-round personal needs but in no way did it resemble today's bathrooms. It was unheated and during those cold Canadian winters, it was not a place to sit and read. It was a summer haven for bees and I remember running back to the house one time to get a fly swatter. I nailed a few of those little hummers but in the end, the bees won.

We had a creek that ran through our farm. In the summer, we swam in it, fished in it and in the winter we skated on it. It was our amusement park. On the other side of the creek was a pretty steep hill which provided some pretty good winter fun.

We had a player piano with a lot of song rolls, plus an old Victrola and a few old 78s for musical entertainment. Mom was a pretty good pianist, Dad played the violin and we all sang the good old songs.

And on rainy days, not to worry. There was always the barn and as long as there was hay in there, we'd have fun. We'd go up in the haymow and fork some hay down onto the barn floor then slide down and land on the pile.

One time I went down the wrong slide, right through the trap door and into the stable. When I looked down and saw that trap door coming up at me, I thought I was a goner. Fortunately, Roy, our hired hand had forked some hay down earlier for the animals and there was a good pile for me to land on.

We also liked to climb up the ladder to a platform at the end of the track and then jump off into the hay. For those of you who didn't have the good fortune of growing up on a farm, the track was there to deliver hay to the mow.

From the center of the barn, we would lift a load of hay by a horse or tractor drawn rope until it hit the "car" and then it would travel along the track. Someone would then pull the trip rope and the hay would drop.

We would sometimes loop the chain back on this device and hook it where it couldn't be tripped, throw a couple of bran sacks on it for comfort, then with one of us sitting on it, the others would pull the draw rope and pull us up to the "car" which would travel down to the end of the barn where we could get off onto the platform then climb down the ladder.

OSHA would never have approved of this nor would our parents had they known. We had been cautioned that some kid had hit his head when it reached the car and fell off and was killed. We were more young and carefree than we were smart so we did it anyway.

Some of the chores we had to do were not always fun but were, I believe, an important part of growing up and helped prepare us for adulthood. Others were fun. Our chickens ran loose for the most part and gathering the eggs was often like an Easter Egg hunt. Some times you'd find eggs you should have found a long time ago and they were pretty bad.

There were a lot of pretty good radio shows we looked forward to each week. I liked a lot of them but I think if I had to pick one in particular, it would have to be Charlie McCarthy with Edgar Bergan.

I can still hear Mortimer Snerd telling Bergie how he once fell off a 30 ft. ladder. When Bergie asked him if he got hurt, he said, in his low tones, "No, lucky for me I was only on the bottom rung."

My age may be showing but it seems to me the shows were a lot funnier back then and a whole lot cleaner. It's also possible that with a simpler lifestyle, laughter came a little easier.

These were truly "The Good Old Days.

Rev 2005

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