Saturday, August 17, 2013

The past teaches the future...if we'll learn!

Something that is always a "must-see" for my family at the Indiana State Fair is Pioneer Village.  Pioneer Village is an entire section of the fair that shows us how our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents lived and worked.  For those who have never been, everyone in Pioneer Village must dress like they lived in the past and must complete whatever task they're doing as it was done back them.  

There are steam tractors that do the farm chores such as threshing grains, getting the dried corn off the cob, cutting lumber and making shingles.  My husband and son could spend the entire fair just in the antique steam tractor area.  Well, ok, my husband could.  My son, spends so much time at the blacksmith shop that they now recognize him (for the second year) and have given him information on going to blacksmith classes once he is 11 or 12 years old.  He can't wait!  I was slightly embarrassed when Devon told the Coppersmith that the Blacksmith was better to watch.  

I'm sure it is no surprise that I love watching the women cook the meals with cast iron pots and pans over the fire with their garden nearby where they can literally pick it just before they throw it in the pot!  It was funny to me to hear the kids and teens reactions to hear the family who does the fresh cracklin's when they find out what "cracklin's" are made of!  LOL  

As I was walking around the steam engine area looking for my husband and son, I looked up on one of the big barns and saw this sign:

I thought about this quite a bit after I took the picture.  I decided that this statement can take on several different areas, both individually and as a society.  I know this may not seem to be a direct link in thinking but it is how my mind wrapped around this.  (As my husband says "work with me here"..LOL)

So many of the things that our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents did were considered to be craftsmanship that was being lost over time.  10-15 years ago, far fewer people had gardens, most of those who did lived in more rural settings.  Even fewer people "put up" the garden.  Rarely did anyone sew or do mending, everything was so disposable.  "Just go buy a new...fill in the blank with whatever was broken" was the norm.  Being frugal was almost unheard of and when it was was highly likely to be viewed as for those who were poor or odd.

Then, the economy tanked.  Many families were now struggling.  Not that they were necessarily poor but pretty much everyone I knew was affected in one way or another by it.  Some lost their homes, some lost their jobs and some just were hit so hard by gas prices that belts had to be tightened, budgets adjusted.  People had to figure out how to live on less.  

It didn't take long for people to realize that we could take the lessons of our collective past and apply it to today to stretch budgets and make money go just a little bit farther.  

Gardening was making a huge comeback.  So was canning, freezing and drying the produce that was being grown.  I remember a reporter contacting me to provide the "home canner's" take on things for a piece that she wrote about a professional chef who was canning things.  Until that time, I hadn't realized that so many people were interested in canning again.  I hate that it took such a turn in the economy to bring gardening back.  There is nothing that can compare to the taste and health benefits of fresh produce.

As the sign says "When a man loses sight of his past, He loses his ability to look forward intelligently".  If we are to move forward from an economic set-back in an intelligent way, it is in our best interest to look to the past at how our Grandparents did things.  Whether it was the depression, one of the World Wars, unemployment or any other economical set-back, they always looked at ways to not buy things.  If that meant, gardening or mending that ripped seam or sewing a new button on, or cooking at home, it always started with those crafts that we were losing in today's world.  

So take a minute and think about it.  What craft or skill will you learn that your Grandparents did?  What craft or skill will you pass on to your children?  

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