by Mary Cook
Photo: Mary Cook, at her very
first day as a broadcaster with the CBC
There arent too many
people of my vintage who would really welcome going back in
time to that era where clothes were washed on the scrub board,
Eatons catalogue hung in the outhouse on a spike, coal
oil lamps were the only light in the house, and the wood cookstove
thumped away winter and summer in the kitchen.
Gone are the days when you
huddled around the battery radio to catch Major Bowes Amateur
Hour and you thought you were being royally entertained. Today,
there are few people who would give up their nightly television,
their CDs, and their rental movies to sit in front of a box,
which at best scratched out faded voices that crackled and
then often vanished altogether, signaling that the battery
was dying a sure and quick death.
No, these are not things
even the most nostalgic of us would want to go back to.
But when you stop to think
about it, arent there customs, habits, traditions and
yes, even relics of times past that you wish were back in
Take whistling for instance.
Not many people go along the street whistling today. But it
doesnt seem that long ago, that just about everyone
whistled. My mother whistled while she kneaded bread. My father
whistled when he was doing chores in the barn. We kids learned
to whistle almost as soon as we learned to talk. You could
hear whistles and whistlers everywhere. Just about the only
time you didnt whistle was sitting in church on Sunday!
I can remember walking the country road to school, whistling
and kicking stones ahead of me with the toe of my shoe. I
hear in my mind, my brothers, each trying to outdo the other,
whistling the familiar tunes of the day. Anyone caught whistling,
walking a busy city street, carrying a briefcase today, would
no doubt be considered at the least, strange, and very likely
ready to be committed!
I have a picture of my very
first day as a broadcaster with the CBC. There I am with a
perky straw hat, and white gloves.
And what has happened to
white gloves? Wasnt there a touch of elegance to the
lady who wore white gloves to church, to afternoon teas, yes,
even to work? I have a picture of my very first day as a broadcaster
with the CBC. There I am with a perky straw hat, and white
gloves. Today, gloves are reserved for very formal occasions,
and when the temperature dips to freezing, and rarely are
they white! I still own a couple pairs of white gloves, but
alas, they are wrapped in tissue in the bottom of a drawer,
and havent been worn for years.
Does anyone go out for a
leisurely walk anymore? Does anyone start out walking just
for the sheer joy of ambling along with no definite destination
in mind? It seems to me there are lots of walkers, but they
speed walk. They are intent on getting from here to there
in the least possible time. I realize they are exercising,
and keeping in shape, and paying attention to a healthy heart.
But once in a while, couldnt they just abandon the speed
walk, and just amble along, not with a finger on their pulse,
or an eye on the pedometer? But walking just for the sheer
joy of watching the scenery unfold before them, stopping occasionally
to pass the time of day with a neighbour, or to pause long
enough to take a few deep breaths on a crisp fall day.
And where have all the wedding
receptions gone where there was wonderful dance music, played
loud enough so that you could pick out the tune, but not so
ear-piercing that you had to make an appointment with a hearing
doctor the next day? For that matter, where has all the music
gone where you could actually understand the lyrics? No longer
can you sit at a dance and talk to the person sitting beside
And how I miss seeing nurses
wearing their caps. Each training hospital had its own unique
shape or design, and there was an air of efficiency about
the nurse who came into your room in her cap. You knew without
a doubt she had graduated, and was well-equipped to take care
of you. I know, I know...the nurses I talk to today say, good
riddance, claiming nurses caps were the harbingers
of millions of germs. Well, have you ever heard of a nurse
dying from dirty cap disease, or passing on cap
germs to a patient?
As a consummate letter writer,
who has been known to churn out two or three letters on any
given day, I regret the loss of the written word. The hand
written word, that is. Today, my incoming e-mails outnumber
the handwritten letters by about ten to one. The electric
age is here to stay, and in most cases has streamlined our
lives. But it has also taken away the human touch. I dont
ever have to lay eyes on my bank teller, or the friendly clerk
in the post office if I dont want to. I could carry
on my business from my desk. But by doing so, I would isolate
myself from some of the great joys of life: making contact
with a human face.
I long for the voice of Central,
that wonderful person on the end of the rural phone, and just
one government agency or place of business with a real person
on the end of the telephone. I am tired of hearing a recording
telling me my call is important to them. If its so important,
tell me in person!
Wouldnt it be
nice to retain some of the customs and traditions, habits
and lifestyles of the past, and meld them with todays
modern trappings, trends and inventions, and create a happy
marriage between both?
This is an original story,
first published in The Country Connection Magazine,
Issue 52, Summer 2006. Copyright Mary Cook.
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