Serious View of Important Things
by N. Ray Maxie
again, I recently ran across the insightful story of several little blind- men
telling their "view" and description of an elephant as each one inspected parts
of his body. Touching and feeling a different part of his anatomy, they all of
course had totally different descriptions of the elephant. |
One day not
long ago over morning coffee, I was an innocent bystander and observer of a friendly
debate between three of my friends. It was at "The Texan" diner just off the downtown
square. They were debating which "modern day" home improvement had the most significance
in their lives.
First and foremost, I think all agreed the coming of the
(REA), Federal Rural Electrification Authority with rural electricity was the
number one greatest event. But what events were second, third and forth places?
You should've heard what I am about to reveal! There are many folks among us today
that have never experienced these historical events.
Subjects of our passionate
discussion were; putting running water in the home; also an indoor bathroom with
plumbing; plus the installation of gas or butane piped into the house.
I listened most intently, an old adage handed down to me in the 1940's by my Grandfather
David Alfred Maxie kept coming to mind. "Son remember, a persons point of view
always depends upon the point they are viewing from." These three friends certainly
illustrated some good ideas in that regard. An old Indian saying goes, “Walk
a mile in my moccasins.”
first friend arguing for running water in the home, acknowledged that in the old
days, his family's hand-dug water well was a considerable distance from their
house. Their old house where the well was dug, had burned years earlier. So they
built another one a distance over a bit.
He being the youngest male sibling,
everyone in his large family had "authority" to order him to draw and carry heavy
buckets of water from the well to the house. That was a laborious task. Not to
mention, if running water were available back then, they possibly could have put
the fire out and saved the old house. So it was easy to see how, with his experiences,
getting running water in the home was of great significance to him.
can remember the first running water into our kitchen came by way of one ½ inch
iron pipe. It stuck up through the cabinet top and had a brass outdoor water faucet
on the end. It was sort of an ugly installation, but very pretty to my mother
who was proud as a “peacock” about that modern convenience. No more carrying water
from the “fresh water” spring a quarter mile down the hill. She kept the brass
faucet polished and shining brightly.
second friend argued for indoor plumbing and a modern bathroom as the greatest
convenience in his life. He admitted that before the family finally built an outdoor
toilet, they had to go into nearby woods or maybe out and around the barn for
Thereafter, for many years, the old outdoor toilet was much better,
a big improvement, but just too far from the house in the middle of the night,
or on cold and rainy days. Maybe sometimes even a rattlesnake lurked nearby, or
spiders hiding under the toilet seat. That “old privy” was cold and wet in winter
and hot and stinky in summer. This friend’s point of view was well founded on
his unpleasant personal experiences.
Personally, I can remember near the
end of WW II when my father
added a commode, a shower and wash basin. That was soon after water had been piped
into our house. Long, long afterwards, a hot water heater was added when gas or
butane became available. Until then we heated pots and tea kettles of water on
the wood burning stove, pouring them into the bathtub. Each person was responsible
for heating his/her own bath water.
third friend argued that butane gas was the most significant "modern- day" improvement
in his early childhood home. He described the long years of cutting, splitting
and hauling firewood, and how it smoked up everything with suet and cinders. Also,
the frequent filling of the wood box; keeping kindling and cleaning of ashes,
buckets of coals and more ashes, were all never ending chores. Everyone kept cans
of kerosene available for filling oil lamps, plus refilling them daily and trimming
the wicks. The heating of all water and cooking everything with wood was a daily
chore. He claimed he never went to school without smelling like wood smoke, kerosene
or cow manure from tending farm animals. Since he also ran a trap-line to or from
his way to school, he probably smelled like a skunk “wild cat” at times. So sure,
bringing on butane was important to him because of these unpleasant early life
Is it any wonder that history has so many strange twist,
turns and deviance among its pages? Standing several people side by side to watch
an event together, and later asking each one individually what they witnessed,
you will get a very different observation or description of what each had seen.
Interestingly, each one’s description will be the truth from their own personal,
firsthand observation. The truth, but like the several little blind men and the
elephant, entirely different.
Like my grandfather often said, "Son, your
point of view always depends upon your point of observation”.
can't see both sides of a coin at the same time! Can you?
© N. Ray
August 1, 2008 Column
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