A “New” Tradition

Today eight kindred souls came to my house and after food and fun, three of us took turns and read the Declaration of Independence. Odd, but during that reading I didn’t think back 236 years or about Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. I just thought of the last decade or so and how our country has changed – and, in my opinion, not for the better.

What I remembered today was when I was a youngster on the farm. I read recently that the EPA, I believe, was going to or did, “Prohibit Children from Farm Work.” on their own family’s farm! How absurd. All kids by age 13 in my youth knew how to drive tractors and trucks so when we got our driver’s license at 15 we were ready to go.
One of my farm jobs was to ride the mowing machine while dad drove the tractor which pulled it. The mowing machine had a scissors-like blade about eight feet long on the left side. My job was to lift the blade using a long metal lever if we approached a stump or large rock hidden in the oats. And also to lift it to vertical when dad made a 180 for the next run. IF the blade caught on something it could easily jerk the machine and toss me in front of the blade (that occasionally happened – no “safety belt”) and if dad didn’t stop in time I could have been chopped into little bits and pieces. My father had to use me for this job because I was the only son left at home. My brother was busy dying in World War II helping save the world. Today my father would be arrested for “Endangerment to Children.”

My friend Jerry who lived with his family on the next farm up the road took off his shirt one day and showed me ugly red cuts and bruises on his back where his father had beaten him with a belt. His offense? His dad had caught him smoking a cigarette behind a hay stack. Today Jerry’s father would be put in jail. BUT, if Jerry had set that haystack on fire, it would have burned not only the hay, but the barn and also the house and a family of nine would have been homeless. Jerry never smoked behind a haystack again, and to my knowledge never smoked again at all – so maybe his dad saved him from death by lung cancer.

Life was tough when I was young since I was born in the second year of the Great Depression. And transgression of rules was dealt with harshly because the well being of the family depended on each member doing his or her part. But we learned two valuable lessons which our government has taken away. We learned self-reliance and duty. And we had FREEDOM. Today those values are lost on current generations. Next  year, hopefully my family and friends will  gather again to read the Declaration of Independence.  I hope America is still here at that time.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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