Thursday, August 18, 2011

The world has changed

Have you ever noticed that when the wind is blowing a certain way, a train whistle sound a whole lot different?

In the old days, someone would say “there will be rain before morning.” Others would point to other signs that would foretell rain. This was in the days before Doppler radar.

If their forecast turned out to be wrong, then they would have an answer for that, too. I still believe that our old timers who could predict the weather were generally on course. Now, with our global warming and other disturbances in the sky I sometimes wonder if anyone really knows what the weather will do.

When asked to my grandfather how he knew the rain would come he would reply that the train whistle had a different “shrill” to it.

Perhaps so, but the other evening while we were sitting on the porch and we heard a train approaching in the far distance it sounded faraway and lonesome the closer it got to our village, it was really loud and I recalled what my grandfather had told me. It was right. That night we had rain. The trains don’t blow their alarm near our house now that they are elevated, so a warning isn’t needed; we only hear them when they are approaching a crossing that hasn’t been elevated, which is a few miles from Canastota.

When we were babies, mothers would put us in our carriages after our morning feeding and bath and set us on the porch outside where we could nap and get fresh air. The mothers would complain about the train whistles until the babies would get used to the noise. Relatives who came for a visit or new residents who purchased a home near the railroad tracks soon had to become familiar with the noise and be able to sleep through it.

Back in those days peddlers came around with their vegetables and fruits calling out what they had to sell that day, letting those people at home know what they could purchase for their evening meal. Talk about freshness. The ice man who came before refrigeration, the meter man, dry cleaner who came for your clothes that needed to be cleaned. I can remember when the insurance man came to collect your monthly or weekly premium towards your life insurance. These people all came to your home while baby napped on the porch.

Think about it. When did you last see a baby carriage on a front porch or for that matter any place on a street? Babies ride in car carriers today. You see strollers, but hardly ever a carriage. And, in this day would you feel comfortable leaving a baby outside without an adult in attendance?

Are you old enough to remember when others while going into a grocery store or other store, left the baby outside the store in the carriage without anyone watching over the baby? Times have changed. There are not that many mothers who stay at home and care for the children, they have to work to make ends meet. Those that do are privileged.

Children are now fingerprinted, given instructions at home, take special classes in school on how to stay safe at playgrounds, or in public places.

My, how the world has changed.

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