I’m a fence jockey where ‘progress’ is concerned. I support the miraculous advancements in the world of medicine which has ensured me of a better life. Had I been born a couple hundred years ago, it’s doubtful I would have lived to celebrate my 29th birthday. My last pregnancy (at the ripe old age of 28) was complicated with a breech baby and for a couple hours around lunchtime on September 12, 1979, things got pretty dicey in the delivery room. I didn’t think either of us would see September 13th, and that was with the help of 2 doctors, several nurses, a ghastly pale husband who thought he might be raising our 8 and 4 year old by himself from that day forward. (Should have had a C-section but my doc didn’t think it was necessary. A miscue on his part, which could have turned out much worse). But it all turned out just fine with a healthy baby boy.
If I take that a step further back, Hubs probably would have died before he ever had a chance to have sex (horse fell on his foot/leg resulting in multiple breaks and gangrene at age 15. He’s gonna huff & puff, insisting he had sex by 15-hahaha). If that nasty accident didn’t do him in, a ruptured appendix after we’d been married three years probably would have. I’d been left a widow raising our toddler Shannon by myself. Guess there wouldn’t have been a Joshua or Adam from that union. But God had other plans for this young married couple with 3 kids to raise.
I’m the first one to cheer for modern medicine like root canals, nitrous oxide, novocaine, pain medication, capped teeth, braces, a tonsillectomy, tubal ligations, vaccines, appendix/gall bladder surgery which allows you to go home the same or next day with the smallest of incisions, joint replacements, organ transplants, stents, bypass, chemotherapy. These advancements have saved millions of lives.
Although it seems like I was born during the Stone Age I assure you I was not. Where I get goofed up is when I look back at my childhood. My family suffered a tragic loss in 1958 when my 12 year old brother was killed while he was riding his bike to our grandparent’s house. I was 7, making parts of being a kid painful, but there’s actually not much I’d change about growing up in my little home town.
My best friend through school was a sweetie named Char who lived a few blocks away. She was one-of-four girls in her family, all quite close in age. I would say 90% of the households in Rock Valley had a landline phone, but only one. (Our house didn’t fit that large percentage though because we had 2). My dad worked for the Iowa State Highway Commission and was frequently called into work during the middle of the night usually for a miserable blizzard. We all slept upstairs and our staircase was steep, narrow and harrowing to maneuver when you were wide awake, let alone half asleep. In the interest of mom and dad’s unbroken limbs and good health, they added a rotary dial phone which sat on a small table in between their twin beds. Once I hit the phone yakking age, this was an awesome advantage because our main phone was in the kitchen. My conversations were uninterrupted as I laid on mom or dad’s bed. When they thought I was up to no good, they’d quietly lift the receiver downstairs to listen to my conversations.
Though most families had a phone, there were no answering machines or call waiting. With Char’s family of 4 popular girl’s, many days when I called, I’d get a busy signal. The phone’s busy signal was just part of our life. When I got frustrated, unable to get through, the easiest thing to do was hop on my bike and ride to her house and speak person to person.
By the time we were in junior high there were lots of extracurricular activities which kept us busy and entertained, band, cheerleading and attending every sports function our public school offered. As great as all the games were, the most fun we had was on the Pep Bus. You signed up at school, paid (50 cents or maybe it was only a quarter) and at the designated time, piled on a bus with 40 other kids from 7th grade through high school.
I don’t think schools have used/promoted pep busses for a long time which makes me sad. That kind of camaraderie is hard to duplicate, especially since most have a cellphone. Listen, I’m not against cellphones. I’m profoundly deaf and texting is the main way I communicate. I just feel teens and 20-something’s are losing a lot of personal friendships if they use their phones for most social interactions.
Whenever I think about this I’m reminded of something I witnessed a decade ago. I was on a 4-lane divided Highway, in the left lane, passing a school bus. It was late afternoon. As I pulled alongside the bus I noticed every single teen’s head was resting on his or her chest. No, they weren’t sleeping, but texting/listening to music/playing games. No one I saw was smiling, but deep into their own little world, probably texting the kid 3 rows ahead. This image still bothers me when I think about pep bus rides with my peers. How we teased, laughed, gossiped, sang, told silly jokes on a simple bus trip to a town 30 miles away. I hope kids still experience the goofy joy of a pep bus/field trip ride and the special friendships formed that were ignited on the bus full of exuberant teens…