Little Egypt Heritage Articles
© Bill Oliver
16 September 2007
Vol 6 Issue: #34
O’siyo, Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen of Little Egypt,
Life changes and the world we live in also changes. During the 1930s and
40s we had large extended families – grandparents, aunts, uncles,
cousins, and an occasionald boarder/farm hand. Times have certainly
changed since then.
Though times have changed, I often think of the “progress” that has
transpired. As an example, Grandma Oliver, who was born in 1885, passed
over in 1988; a span of 102.5 years. She lived in a time when
semi-automatic pistols were first developed and through the time of
space travel and the Hubbel space telescope. So she lived from the
introduction of the center fire cartridge to a “walk on the moon” and
Grandma Oliver traveled by foot, horseback, buckboard, or buggie, living
through the development of automobiles and jet airliners taking
advantage of both. Automobile traffic was beginning to become too heavy
for everyone’s safety in the 1960s so her driving license had to be
taken from her just because she’d forget [once in a while] to look
before she drove away from a parking place.
My Grandparents grew up in an agricultural communities. Farmers were
nearly self sufficient and city dwellers came as close as they could to
be the same. Today most of us depend entirely on goods purchased with
monies earned in industrial or service occupations.
During the 1930s and 40s, living was somewhere midway between the two
living modes. Mechanization was becoming common for those that lived on
farms while those living in urban areas were improving their industrial
economy style of living. As urban areas industrialized, housing became
more plentiful and the need to “all” live together lessened – apartment
living separated families even further – from extended families to
nuclear families and even separated families.
In life before television urban life attempted to maintain the more
rural life styles. Everyone had assigned chores and often everyone sat
around a common place in the home doing such activities as peeling fruit
or potatoes, stringing beans, or making something needed by the family.
Everyone had a part to play in living. Many foods were “put up” in Mason
jars, which were recycled year after year. Prepackaged foods were an
unknown. Refrigeration was the “spring house” and/or the “root cellar”.
Thinking back, we didn’t have garbage to “take out”. Food scraps were
fed to the animals – chickens or hogs. Paper was burned. Bulk
containers, burlap sacks, were recycled into things such as clothes.
Mostly our grandparents used the buckboard wagons to travel to town or
church. Our parents mostly walked to places. They [we] thought nothing
of walking six miles one way to visit relatives or go “downtown”. The
“swimming hole” or town pool was also some distance and we walked.
Out on the farms folks raised their own livestock – cows, chickens,
geese, ducks, and pigs were common. In town livestock was reduced to
chickens and other fowl, though I’ve known a few urban dwellers who kept
a “milk cow” which furnished fresh milk and butter. In keeping chickens
in urban settings I can remember the wake up calls of the roosters in
the neighborhoods. The hens were called laying” hens and they had very
small spaces to “scratch” around in, while their country brethren roamed
Out on the farms there also were dogs whose purpose was to keep
“critters” away and give sounding alarms. Then there were “mousers”
[cats]. On the farm, kids had other “pets” – possums, skunks and even crows.
At the end of World War II the housing industry really took off and the
“American Dream” of owning your own home took this country into new
eras. As mentioned above this began to divide our extended families into
nuclear and even “split” families. Many new electronic devices became
necessities beginning with the TV which ranged from small screens with
oil bubble magnifiers to HiDefinitions flat screens of up to six foot
mounted on walls. Telephones, now called “land lines”, have led to
iPods. Root cellars have given way to modern “Maytag” refrigerators with
control “chips” all digitized. The little lights which tell the state of
operation on the outside are brighter than the night light we use to
navigate in the dark. Kitchen counters are covered with toasters, waffle
irons, crock-pots, micro-waves, and more.
All this development has “progressed” into “outsourcing” our work forces
to other countries leaving our communities to explore new vistas to
maintain our economy. I’m thinking in terms of communities creating and
fostering tourism. They take something that was marketable and
capitalize on it.
I think of many places, but one that comes to mind readily is a place in
western North Carolina before the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was
formed. The area at the time was an agricultural community economically
dependent on farming and logging. They built a road across Soco Mountain
and in 1934 formed a National Park. Since that time the area has
transformed from farming and logging to an industry focused on tourism.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the business’ are tourist oriented.
This transformation is good on the one hand but brings with it other
developments. On the one hand the tremendous renaissance in the arts of
the area is good. The preservation of some old traditions are kept alive
due to tourism. However, a million people coming through there in a
year’s time has an impact on the environment – pollution in its many
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-WI NV-WA-do-hi-ya NV-WA-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
"Myths are universal and timeless stories that reflect and shape our
lives ..." Alexander McCall Smith, Dream Angus