Things Lost With Time
The New Year makes me nostalgic about things that have changed in my lifetime. Customs that were as natural as breathing have died out, almost without notice.
Take Charivari for example: Defined as a noisy mock serenade made by banging pans and kettles to call out a newly married couple. Pronounced “shivaree” it usually started with a demand to see the couple and often a temporary kidnapping of the bride ensues. The bride and groom were expected to provide refreshments for this supposedly impromptu event. The last one I heard about in Pineville was in 1958 when my friends Betty and Raymond Thompson were married. Betty’s parents lived next door to us, so I knew about it.
Thinking of weddings led to thoughts of how showers or gifts were given before a wedding and usually soon thereafter a shower for a baby. Most people had little money and so the custom of “going in on” a gift was the solution. I can remember going with my Mom to the local dry goods store so she could “go in on” linens or towels or to the hardware store to “go in on” a toaster, a mixer or a set of pots and pans. Gifts were usually limited to the very practical as most couples were starting out with very little. I recall that when I got married, we both had the following items: a typewriter, an iron and a clock-radio. The shower gifts allowed us to set up housekeeping (as it was called).
Music has always been an integral part of Ozark entertainment. I grew up going to “singings” on Sunday afternoons. They were held at local churches, the court room or any place big enough to hold a crowd. It was an opportunity for anyone who wished to perform. A quartet singing four-part harmony was usually the most professional and I still love to hear that kind of music. Gospel and folk tunes were the usual fare. I soaked it up in my bones. I rarely was brave enough to perform, but I did a few times. The last time was in the 1970’s when I sang “The House of the Rising Sun” accompanied by my limited guitar playing. I think there is still a group that meets in the old Bunker Hill School house, but not for sure.
Hiking and walking have given way to modern transportation. In my youth, if I attended Sunday School, I could go on a hike led by the teacher. We walked for miles in every direction from town – usually for about four hours. We explored streams and bluffs played hide and seek and had a wonderful time. Fences were no barrier; we climbed over or through the barbed wire and went on our way. No one worried about trespassing as we did no harm and left only our tracks. Such freedom is unthinkable today. My Mom and her sisters would walk 6 miles each way to visit their parents on Big Sugar Creek. They packed cheese and crackers and cups. They would stop at springs to get a drink. It was safe to do so in those days. They didn’t travel alone. My sister, brother and several cousins would go too. By the time I came along, we had a car, so I didn’t have that experience, but have heard about it many times.
I recently read an article about the need to let children get bored. When left to their own devices, they found ways to invent games and other kinds of play. I think it is a good idea. Too often, we are entertained when we could be using our own imaginations and creativity.
December 29, 2019
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