SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - The Joy Of Humble Beginnings

By Bob Weaver

Over the years, lots of Calhoun people have said, "We were poor, but didn't know it," a saying which I gratefully embrace as I age.

Poverty, as we have come to know it, was all around the Village of Hur.

There were few people of "means," and there was little awareness or recognition of social status. We were mostly in the same boat.

I was blessed to have two parents who worked at blue-collar jobs, and being an only child, rarely suffered from need or want.

Some of the kids who got on the school bus at Hur didn't have a change of clothes, not acknowledged until years later.

A great fortune for all families was living at the end of the self-sufficiency of the agricultural era.

Today, many would consider my small four-room house with outside privy , no electric or running water as being poor, but it surely never occurred to me during my childhood.

My eight by eight foot bedroom had a twin bed, a dresser and hooks on the wall for clothing, and lots of books with an early-on crank-up record player and records that belonged to my mother.

For Christmas, before electric came through the country, I was given a battery-operated radio, which gave endless hours of connection to the bigger world.

My dad would complain I played it too much, running the dry cell battery down, and I would drag it under the covers to mute the sound, not to worry him during the late night hours.

The world of radio had the knack to expand the world of imagination.

The house was heated by one open-flame gas stove in the living room, with extra help from the burners on the kitchen stove on the coldest winter days.

It was dimly lit by gas mantled lights and connected to the community with a crank'em up telephone.

Water was pulled from a drilled well by a baler, emptied into a bucket which sat beside the kitchen sink. Bathing was in a washtub. On cold winter nights, a trip to the outhouse was averted by using a chamber pot kept in the cellar.

We had three meals a day at the table, with well-prepared food from scratch and food stored in a gas Servel refrigerator. Ice cream was a treat, hand-cranked or frozen in an ice tray.

We had a garden, a hog for butchering and at least one milk cow. It was my job to track her down on the hillside pasture and drive her to the barn.

Canned food, potatoes and cured ham were stored in the cellar, but the small cellar house on top was a sleeping room for company.

By the time I was nine, my mother bought a desk for the living room, having also purchased a brightly glowing Aladdin kerosene lamp to illuminate my many books and help me to write. Then, with their hard-earned money, they bought me a typewriter, can you believe.

Those basic skills allowed me to follow a number of professions throughout my lifetime.

For entertainment we went to cowboy picture shows at the Kanawha Theater in Grantsville for fifteen cents, while daily life centered on going to school. I dreamed of being a cowboy movie star.

I went into my early life to have a job that for years made me look into the face of poverty, and know the suffering it causes children and the aged.

I'm grateful for that tiny, hard-scrabble house that was adorned with something far greater than its humble furnishings. It is where I live today, a more modern version.

But best, it was filled with love and encouragement.

These years later, having been among millions who lost their retirement benefits plan, we know how to get by on little and practice some gratitude.