How Did I get From There to Here?
I came across something I wrote in 1988 – a quarter century ago – back at the dawn of PCs and a few years before the mysterious thing called the Internet went online.
I wrote, “Here I sit, a not so long way from my childhood up on Tucker-Ridge, plugging away at my very own IBM-compatible with floppy disc and hard drive, MS-DOS, programmed with a share-ware system, and hooked to a “near letter quality printer” with myriad fonts, etc."
Floppy disk? MS-DOS? Near letter quality printer? (Remember the old pin printers with the sprocketed paper?) Digital cameras hadn’t been heard of yet.
To the young folk today, that all sounds like the Dark Ages. They grew up with the Internet and digital cameras. Heck, my grandkids now do everything on their phones: surf the web, take and send “Instagram” photos – in a gergillion megapixels – text message and, oh yes, made phone calls.
I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I have my PC, a website for my art work, my printers, scanners, cellphone and digital camera. I cut off the cable almost five years ago and watch all the shows I want online. But I refuse to "text" and I prefer my phone just be a phone and my camera a camera.
I used to work in a photography studio and a printing outfit that printed magazines like “American Artist” back in the really Dark Ages of Linotype machines. Editing and corrections were laborious. Now we can do everything sitting at home. (The best thing is spell-checker – no more bottles of white out and/ or totally retyping copy.)
But stretching back to where I started, nearly eight decades ago, up on the Tucker Ridge farm, it’s mind-boggling to think about how fast civilization has leap-frogged through its innovations and inventions.
As I sit here today, my mind flashes back to the early forties and the little girl that was me sitting on the floor in the hallway of the Tucker Ridge farmhouse with my big brother, using a trunk for a school desk, while he patiently taught me how to write my first words. Wasn't I some proud when I started sub-primary (that's what kindergarten was called then) to already be able to write my name and the alphabet. Our school was the one-room school that has been regionalized out of existence.
Growing up in the late thirties and early forties on the four-generation farm at the end of Tucker Ridge Road in Webster Plantation, Maine, was little different from living in the 18th or 19th centuries. There was no electricity, no phone, no Internet, no furnace, and the only indoor plumbing was the red water pump at the edge of the black soapstone sink. (There was also no electric bill, no phone bill, no Internet bill, no oil bill and no water bill.) Basically, up on the Ridge, we didn’t live that much differently than people had for hundreds of years. Heck, Wyatt Warp died only six years before I was born.
My life has stretched from that little farm, through all the advances up to today. I revel in watching my kids and grandkids in their adventures as they take full advantage of all the 'stuff'. I’ve enjoyed it all myself.
But I still have one foot back on the farm. It’s a good life today, but so was my life on Tucker Ridge Road. A better foundation for facing the rest of one's life cannot be had than to spend one's formative years on a small self-sufficient farm, far from the madding crowd, wrapped in the safeness of grandparents' love and guidance passed down from generations.
Indeed, getting back to a more self-sufficient lifestyle has become a movement these days. Called anything from self-sufficient farmers to homesteaders to “preppers", people are moving back to the country and learning how to provide the basics, such as their own food, heat and water for themselves. They’re shifting their priorities. They’re discovering the quiet peace and sense of security that comes with being more independent.
Indeed, when I go home to visit and walk around the fields of the old farmland, as I stop by the old school house – now the town hall – I feel the tug. Thoughts of going back to the simplicity of Tucker Ridge hold great appeal – as long as I could have my indoor plumbing.
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast. She now lives in Morrill.