Friday, June 15, 2007

Passing Time [CCR]

Society has become so dependent on the computer and networks. Just as people see electricity in the home as a given when it was once a luxury, the existence of high speed Internet communications is becoming a given. Most of my bills are paid online. My mother always used the postal service. Yet, my granddaddy paid in person. I attribute those differences to technological advances, but it could be contributing to social decline. It has been said that air conditioning was a major cause for the decline of the “Southern front porch” way of life. Maybe other technology helped.

During my youth Cherokee was always a very social community. You could always find people hanging around town at the various establishments just to pass the time. I guess small town traditions contributed to the “neighborly” reputation of the South. Mom has spoke of days when you couldn’t find a place to park a car in Cherokee.

Granddaddy Smith performed his duty adding to the social atmosphere in town. I will never forget that almost every day he wasn’t working he traveled out to town for one errand or another. Many days he was paying the telephone bill, water bill, or electricity bill. But every trip always meant he went around visiting friends and neighbors. You would often find him passing the time with his cousin, Macon Askew. That close friendship maintained itself through their retirement years as you would find Granddaddy sitting on Macon’s porch discussing the weather and waving at friends traveling down North Pike.

The fine folks up at First Baptist and the many other great churches around town often saw a lot of socializing on Sundays. I can remember people hanging around after church discussing the lessons of the day or the events for the week. It was a perfect time to see many neighbors and interact. Now for a small kid anticipating lunch it might not be the best idea, but it was time well spent for the adults. My memory makes me believe life was just a little slower in those days. Some people attribute that paradigm to the passing of time. I perceive it as reality.

Granddaddy Daily had his share of social life. It seems his house out at Mountain Springs was always frequented by visitors from all around. And when they weren’t visiting Granddaddy he was out catching up on their news. Granddaddy would venture out to the store or for some other errand and stop along the road for discussions at a mailbox. I can remember sitting quietly in the old truck with Grandmother as the stories rambled on. Maybe I was a little impatient then, but now I know these visits were an important part of his life and Southern culture.

Next time you recede to your bedroom or office to type out a fast message on a chat window or open an e-mail message think about the culture left behind. You are missing the joy of seeing another face with the emotional impact of the conversation. You may also be missing out on a good tale since the rat race implies sticking strictly to the business at hand. Take a trip out to town, drive slow, and drop by to see a neighbor. You may both be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards.