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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Many Distractions?

I am the kid in the middle, holding the baby--my sister--and pointing to the picture in the book. My brother is holding the book. I am wearing a lovely dress and my brother is missing a few teeth. :^) My sister is looking at the books on the shelf. We always had plenty of books and since Dad was a journalist, we had lots of newspapers, too.

There were fewer diversions in those days. Maybe that's why more people read books and wrote letters. Yes, we had television, but we did not have 200 channels. Every summer some tubes in the television would burn out and my mother would refuse to get it repaired until September. So we caught lightning bugs and roasted marshmallows on the beach and we read books, and wrote stuff.

When I was several years older than I am in the photo above, my brother and I built a treehouse one summer. There was a tree by the southeast corner of our house with a triple trunk. From scraps of lumber we put together a rather rudimentary structure. My brother did most of the actual construction. He was better at wielding a hammer than I was. My job was to straighten out the bent nails we had gathered to use for our building.

Eventually, the treehouse was finished. There wasn’t much to it—a floor, a simple railing, and a roof. We didn’t have any paint. The wood quickly turned to a weathered gray color.

Once it was done, my brother busied himself with another project. He was more of a doer. I was the dreamer. So the treehouse became my private domain where I would sit, gaze out at the lake, and make up stories without being bothered by distractions--like my younger sisters. :^)

Life was simpler and there seemed to be more time--for everything.

Today, everyone is so busy! There are people who don't read a single book in an entire year. There are people who never write a letter and have given up sending cards. There are so many forms of entertainment vying for their attention that books and writing are altogether forgotten.

I find that very sad.


MarkD60 said...

I was on a beach in the Maldives in the early 80's and a German told me that the problem with Americans is that they didn't know how to do nothing, they always had to be doing something. It stuck with me.

I remember the old tube type TV's and radios that you had to wait a minute or two for them to start working because the tubes had to warm up. I remember going to the drug store with my dad to test the tubes. Every drug store had a tube tester!
I miss the good old days too. I think everybody wishes they could go back in time and know everything they know nos.

Penelope Marzec said...

Yes, I remember the tube testers in the drug store, too. Now if anything electronic breaks, everyone just tosses it and buys another one.

Sometimes, it is nice to do nothing. :^)

jenny milchman said...

Wonderful picture and wonderful description of a bygone age. Our family's life is rather more like that not--books everywhere, we don't have TV, and in the summer marshmallows and lightning bugs are definite parts. I agree heartily that we need so slow things down, for the betterment of all our lives.