I was born in the days when people thought it was good to have large families and didn’t feel that a one-or-two kids family was the way to go! In the farming areas it was always good to have help from the family instead of paying a few dollars to a hired hand.
My dad worked at the Erie Art Metal shop polishing all sorts of aluminum containers. As I remember he was a “buffer” who would go into work before the sun was up and continue on till suppertime. Since we had no car, he walked the seven miles back and forth to work in the heat of summer or the cold and snowy winters.
We, of course, looked forward to the snow because we could have snowball fights and speed down the hills on our old sleds. The snow gave us a lot of days off school, too. That kept us from getting out early later on, though, as we had to make up those days. As I think of today’s kids who are out for the summer in May, or very early June it’s much too late to envy them, but I still think they’re lucky!Thinking more about my dad, I wonder how he managed to live through his hours and hours of work. Not just at the factory through the week, but over the weekend as well. Of course, my brothers helped as much as they could, but for a long time they were too young before they could pitch in and help with the huge garden on both sides of the creek. After there were no more younger kids, the various jobs were taken over by the older ones, letting my dad (or Pop) have an hour to read the newspaper.
Since Pop had left school, in about the sixth grade out of necessity because his small pay check was needed by his family, he was not the best reader in the world, but nobody tried harder than he did! And as he read, he was never concerned about having to ask his kids how to pronounce words correctly, because he still wanted to learn. Now, just because he didn’t graduate even from the eighth grade, he never gave up trying to read and always remembered what he had read.So he didn’t read as well as some of his kids, but how well I remember his talents in math (well, really arithmetic back then). Sometimes as we sat around the kitchen table after supper working on school assignments, one of my brothers in high school at the time, would say, “Well, I sure can’t figure this one out. I’m just starting Algebra this year, and it’s lots of fun, but I just can’t get this problem!”
Pa would then ask my brother to read the problem to him, and as I remember he could solve most of the problems, but in his own way. After he had come up with the right answer, without paper or pencil (no school kid used ink pens in those days), he would say, “Now that’s the answer, but you have to write it up your own way. I don’t know how to do that! And I don’t see why all of you kids need algebra!”
And you know what? I think he was just about right! Except for a few years of teaching that algebra, I haven’t used much of what I learned in high school. But that’s true of several subjects we struggled with. And now, with all of the computers and iPads, and phones of all kinds, I wonder what would happen if all of those special tools would evaporate! Kids today must have a lot more money than we did, that’s for sure! I just pulled up an iPad on our computer and found that some were priced at $1799! – CHRIS