By Shirley Palmerton
I loved walking across the fields in the 30s to my grandfather’s farm.
Sometimes he would sit in the old rocker in the kitchen with grandma’s apron across his knees. Braced between his legs was an old iron that was taken from the back of the stove. Using a hammer, he would crack hickory nuts against it. The shells fell into a pail between his feet. Grandma would make cookies with the nuts.
Nights I’d sleep with grandma and whisper in her ear – “He’s going to say it soon, isn’t he?” Soon we’d hear a deep voice from the next bedroom saying, “the first one asleep whistle,” then we’d lay there and laugh.
Sitting next to an old wood stove, grandma would crochet and grandpa would listen to "Amos 'n' Andy" on the radio. It was their nightly entertainment.
I kept telling them they must get a phone so they could call Mom if they needed help. Gramp would insist, “There’s no way I’ll talk to a box on a wall connected to a wire that would go out to a pole and down the road. How can you tell me someone can hear me over a wire?”
They lived a simple, wonderful life, I wonder what he would say if I could tell him all the amazing things that phones can do. You can talk to your friends or anyone all over the world if they have one.
Everyone walking down the streets seems to have one now. I often wonder who they are talking to. I don’t have one.
My daughter positions hers on the dash of her car. She tells it where we are going and it tells us how long it will take and every turn she should make. When our son got his first cellphone, whenever he heard the woman’s voice tell us where to turn, he’d laugh and say, “Yes Mom.”
If I had told grandpa people were living for months at a time in a spaceship flying around our world and men had landed on the moon, he’d say, “Why?”
Don’t you wonder what’s ahead of us in the next 10 years? How will new inventions affect our lives? We thank those who came up with the polio vaccine. My husband had polio as a teenager, so our children got the vaccine as soon as they could. Will there be a cancer vaccine? No mother would ever again hold their child to their chest screaming no, no, no, as I did.
Grandpa used a team of horses to pull a hay cutter. He’d let the hay dry for one day and rack it into piles the next. I used to drive the horses pulling the hay wagon. He’d fork the hay onto the wagon, when full we’d head for the barn. There always was a quart of ginger water at my feet for him.
He wouldn’t be able to believe the size of the tractor pulling a hay cutter for acres and acres now. The next day that tractor would be pulling a machine that would bail the hay and have it flying out the back wrapped in plastic. That tractor also has a radio and air conditioning. He’d shake his head.
When grandpa died, I went to see him laid out in the front parlor with grandma holding my hand. I never went again but I was standing next to the road when the hearse went by waving my hand, tears streaming down my cheeks. Too bad the simple life isn’t simple anymore. It was so good.
Shirley Palmerton of Eden holds fond memories of her late grandfather.