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A look back at passing the time
Bertha and Harry Kessler in garden
Above are Harry and Bertha Kessler in their garden. This photo was taken from Rambling Through Effingham by Daisy Rahn. - photo by Photo provided

It seems so different to look back on the way in which we spent our childhood. Those days seemed carefree and fun. I do not recall everyone being in such a hurry like they are now.

Our vegetables came from a garden that our family worked in and nurtured. If we wanted fish for supper someone went to the creek, river or pond and fished with bait and a pole or got into a rowboat and cast a line for the catch. Children ran and played in the yard or hustled up a ballgame in the neighborhood. A nap in the hammock on the porch was great or one on the cool linoleum floor in the hallway of a house that had never seen air conditioning brought great relief from the outside heat.

People socialized and visited their neighbors for entertainment. Front porches were filled with family and friends catching up on the news. Neighbor ladies shared some fresh baked item or an overabundance of vegetables with the neighbor or widow nearby. If someone was in need, the community took care of their own. Those having a hard time found a good deed done like a load of wood in their shed to heat the home placed there lovingly by an observant neighbor. I wonder sometimes how many loaves of raisin bread Kopy, my Grandmother Exley, shared with others who were feeling poorly or lost a loved one.

The garden was so very important and fed the family. Often the seed was planted according to the almanac and the phases of the moon. Seeds were saved year to year for some heirloom crops like tomatoes. Old worn enamel buckets and basins with holes became flowerpots for plants on the porch like “Justicia,” Jacob’s ladder, “Hen and Biddy” and others. Roses climbed on the fences. Chickens in the yard provided eggs.

Today it is so different. We get our vegetables from “aisles in a store” rather than “garden rows” in our yard. Parents shop quickly multitasking with a phone on the ear hurrying to shuttle children to and from ball games, soccer, karate, dancing, band or extracurricular activities. Children play on handheld electronic devices or computers which open them up to a world of danger known as the internet. They are not outside riding bicycles, running, playing or interacting with their peers.

Kids wear out their thumbs doing something called texting to people anywhere in our world or even right across the room. Young people are losing their ability to communicate and are very rude, never shutting off their enhanced phones or iPods for music playing in their ear buds even for a family meal. We are now rearing generations who do not know how to do anything like mow grass, plant gardens, prepare or cook food, iron clothes, clean or mend. Parents need to put these things in perspective and call a time out for these electronic devices and teach their children to do chores. Above all, adults who have telephones ringing, in meetings or church, need to set some examples of good responsible behavior by turning off these devices that they can actually live without for a few hours.

As I looked the other day at the new social media called Facebook, Cathy Rahn Berryhill’s comment that the communication on Facebook is like talking on the back porch to catch up caught my attention. Yes, I guess so but something is very much lacking from the old days but I will admit it allows one to connect with old friends far away or even a neighbor seldom seen. I guess the only thing sure in our life is change, but all change is not always good and the ways of the past must be kept alive by showing our current generation the old ways to preserve our traditions and conserve some common courtesy and decency in society.

As we celebrate Memorial Day, I challenge you to sit and talk with family and friends with the cell phones off for a while and really enjoy each other. Let us remember all who gave their lives in service to our country though all of our history and those in harm’s way today for our freedom.

As we pray for our armed services and their families who are separated, and those in our world with lives altered by multiple natural disasters, please remember to thank God for our blessings and ask him to bring comfort and relief to those who are suffering and keep our soldiers safe from harm.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: