As fall turned quickly into winter recently, people all across the state hurried to switch on their heat and immediately started complaining about how cold it was. Forgetting that we just had one of the hottest summers in a long time, most of us reverted back to our usual selves of not being satisfied and seeking the need to gripe about something. We are either too hot or too cold, too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, don’t have enough money, pay too much taxes, work too much, and the list can go on forever. Are we ever going to be satisfied?
The answer to that question is probably not any time soon, but it would be fun to try. Some of us can remember back when it seemed we were more satisfied than we are today. It was the simple things in life that could make us happy and you know, I still enjoy simple things. Like home-made ice cream on the back porch, a Nehi grape drink once a week at the country store, peanuts in a Coke, fried chicken or hot-water hoe cakes in a well-used skillet, riding on an escalator for the first time, and lights on a Tennessee cedar Christmas tree on a snowy evening.
All of those things that I just mentioned are satisfying things I can remember and some I still try to do as often as possible. The one about the escalator I can remember vividly. My first experience with one of those was in Nashville at Harveys Department Store many, many years ago around this time of the year. Christmas at Harveys was real impressive to a little farm boy like me. They had real monkeys in a cage, all kinds of decorations and just being in downtown Nashville was like a trip to another country. My first escalator ride I remember because I was afraid my feet would get caught in the steps and I would be dragged to my death. Of course it never happened, but it seemed more exciting at the time thinking something like that could happen.
A visit to Nashville from our home, only 32 miles away, was an all-day trip that did not happen very often. Getting to go downtown and visit Harveys was an adventure I will never forget. We really didn’t buy anything, but I can still see that bright shiny staircase moving up and down. Today we take things like that for granted, but back then it was a scientific wonder. Simple but amazing if you had never seen it work before. I have to admit, I still worry about catching my foot and being dragged to my death or at least making a complete idiot of myself.
I heard a story of a family that never got out too often, somewhat like ours years ago, and made their very first visit to a big city department store. The father and son were strolling around while the wife shopped. They all were amazed, just as I was the first time I visited Harveys, by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.
With amazement in his eyes, little Tommy asked his father, “Daddy, what’s ‘at?” The father, never having seen an elevator, responded, “Son, I dunno. I ain’t never seen anything like that in my entire life, I ain’t got no idea’r what it is.”
While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a rather large older lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between the shiny walls into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up.
They continued to watch until it reached the last number and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Then the walls opened up again and a very attractive young lady stepped out. The father, not taking his eyes off the young woman, said quietly to his son, “Tommy, go git yer Momma.”
From that time on, that family was never satisfied either.
– Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org