Monday, May 30, 2011

The Land O' Plenty

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was doing what Republicans seem to enjoy, which is scolding everyone else for their lack of knowledge, skipping over the fact that a good part of his knowledge came from the pizza industry. Anyway, he was urging the public to read the Constitution. Well, no argument there - we should know all about the country's main governing document, right? The problem was, Mr. Cain went on to reveal his own lack of expertise by citing statements from the Declaration of Independence. Yes, they're both from the eighteenth century, and contain some of the same ideals, but mistaking one for the other isn't something that inspires faith in a candidate, is it?

This takes place before my own life got underway, but I've seen plenty of pics depicting the western plains of the Dust Bowl Days during the Great Depression. The movie that told the story best was "The Grapes of Wrath", which included a certain image we associate with the time - a Model A or Model T auto jammed with family belongings and the family itself as they head west to California to start over. As often as not, the house is simply left unlocked, empty, open to the elements.
Consider the subsequent life of the baby of such a family. He's a toddler by the time the family catches a break - World War II begins, and there is finally demand for workers again. They still don't have much, and may lose an older brother in the war itself, but things seem to be getting better as the 1950's begin. The baby, now a teenager, enters high school. The family discovers, to their surprise, that he has an aptitude for certain kinds of work which will be in high demand in coming decades.
Before anyone is familiar with the name "Vietnam", his career has begun, and there is plenty of work. His own family comes along, and there are problems with his children, but this is pretty common among his coworkers, and things overall are pretty good as times marches through the 70's, 80's and 90's.
Time passes into the new century, and he and his wife no longer have children at home. After long deliberation, they decide it's time to move closer to the grandkids, though they can't be close to all the kids because they live in different states, all of them well-paid for work they trained for in college.
So now it's time to move again. The family shows up in big numbers to get the job done, which they all know won't be easy. Sure, there are friends to leave behind, but the hard part is simply getting everything into a huge truck trailer. This, mind you, is after an effort to get some things to the new home and three yard sales designed to lighten the load. It takes more than 20 people most of a day just to load it all, and even then some things have to be taken in other vehicles. There must be over 100 taped up cardboard boxes which will never need to be reopened. Some of this great bounty, which includes nuts, bolts, screws, pieces of wood, hardware devices, kitchen gadgets, books, fruit preserves, toys, clothing of every size short of "giant", about 15 chairs, a monstrous TV and the ubiquitous Mormon food storage, about half a ton or so, will find its way to the new growth industry - storing the things you own, but don't have room for. ALL this - for two people.
This was my experience last Saturday, as one of the movers. I don't want to sound as though the folks involved were odd or compulsive hoarders. They just happened to live in a time and place that provided unbelievable bounty under certain conditions. Hooray for these good folks, and may their remaining years bring them nothing but happiness.


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