Living in rural WV, there are a lot of things you can do without. When you are born in the country you develop a vivid imagination and actually use it to entertain yourself or risk the possibility of dying from boredom. I remember a couple of summers that every day my sister and I ran for hours in the woods pretending we were riding horses. Mine was called Oreo and he was a dapple gray Clydesdale. The ground would shake as I rode him. (Like I said, vivid imagination.) We groomed them and fed them every night before we put them back in the barn. One thing for sure, every night after we played horse we would sleep like a rock.
We also wandered. You could do that back then; wander away from your house without worrying that someone might try and take you. Neighbors weren’t next door….they were three hollers over. Our favorite place to wander was down the creek. We discovered a rocky bank and christened it “Rock Paradise” (so maybe we weren’t using our imagination when we came up with that name). Sometimes we would ride our imaginary horses there and sometimes we would actually ride our bikes. Somehow we were always wet or muddy at the end of the day and had to spray off with the water hose before Mom would even let us inside the house.
Collecting critters was another past time. We had turtles, squirrels, flying squirrels, groundhogs, cats, dogs, fish, chickens, goats, cows….anything we could catch. I think my favorite was a black cat we named Tom. He would go out hunting and we could hear him screeching from miles away on his way back home. We would sit on the back steps and wait for him to make his way back and then shower him with love and affection.
TV was reserved for Saturday morning cartoons. We had the big tall antennae that you had to turn by hand for signal. So someone had to be inside yelling at the person outside when the picture was clear enough to actually watch. No matter how hard you tried, you could never get a clear picture like you do today. There was always some static. But we were happy to watch Mighty Mouse, The Road Runner, He-man, She-ra, and any other cartoons that would come in. Then it was back outside to play some more.
Mom was the dishwasher, the washing machine had to be filled up with buckets and the ringer would get your fingers if you weren’t careful, the toilet was an outhouse, and we showered outside with a water hose up until late fall. So, as I sit here and listen to my dishwasher running and the buzzer on my dryer I do count my blessings. Some things are easier. But I can’t help the sense of loss that some things were much better back then without all of the luxuries of today.