by John Armstrong
Since today was my birthday, my wife and I decided to take a small day vacation from the bump and grind of our typical daily affairs. So we went for a small country drive to a rib joint on the outskirts of Kilgore, TX for the best tastin’ bar-b-que ribs; ever. Oh my…..they just melt in your mouth; top that off with a nice cold brew or glass of ice tea and you’re in heaven.
After our lunch we decided to take an alternative route home through the back country roads. As we went from small town to small town that popped up during the 1930s oil boom, I began to wonder what America would be like if those communities were still filled with the hustle and bustle of the times.
I wonder “what if” those communities in the mid west long departed by millions of folks were still filled with tons of activity. What would the face of America look like today if small communities were busy like they were back then?
My wife and I talked about this question and thought how nice it would be just to get back to the basics of life; no cell phone, no texting, no computers, no TV. All that existed was an easy going way of life; where folks sat on the front porch during the summer evenings watching the kids play kick the can on the street.
And if any of those kids misbehaved, we’d hear an adult’s voice yell out “I saw what you did and I’m going to tell your folks”. Sure enough when the kid got home, mom and dad were waiting for him to provide an explanation for misbehavior. Maybe the kid was sent to his room or even received a little applied learning to the back side to catch his attention.
Either way, a little humility and correction never hurt and certainly provided some valuable learning experience that wrongs don’t always go unpunished; something that seems to be lacking in today’s society.
Then my attention began to wander on another “what if” question. “What if” President Eisenhower had never got the Interstate Highway Act passed back in the 1950s. What would American society look like today? I can only imagine what the nation would look like since the interstates have been around for most of my life. They were built for a national security purposes. But were the purposes a leading cause for the decay in this nation’s values and communities? It makes me wonder.
I can envision stretches of roads like Route 66 would still be around with many unique restaurants and motels scattered along its entire length. I can envision small towns not bypassed by the interstate highway system and still being busy places of regional commerce; where life was much slower and more relaxed.
They would be places were a community helped raise the kids; where neighbors were not afraid to spank someone else child when he messed up. Often times the kid got another dose of this when he got home. They were places where neighbors knew each others business and people learned to be nice because of societal pressures and because it was the right thing to do.
It's a place and time where there wasn't modern technology to get into the way of relationships with people; you know..where people really knew how to communicate with each other. Now it's a lost art.
I also wonder “what if” the majority of the population in the United States was still in the rural areas and the urban areas were only visited for brief times for a small vacation. What would the fabric of America look like as it did during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s?
I can’t say for certain what it would look like and can only guess. The following would be nice food for thought; “what if” America still embraced mom, dad, apple pie, Roy Rogers, Superman, a belief in God, baseball games in the sand lot, a sense of community, hand written letters sprinkled with your wife’s or girl friend's perfume and that good always prevailed over evil. That’s how I’d like to answer “what if”.