One of the first things I learned as a youngster was when to be quiet and just watch. There was more than once that I mistakenly said something. From the first day of school in 1951 right up to now, I speak when I should just sit and listen. But through it all, I did learn many things just by watching. This watching and learning taught me many different talents. I can remember watching Gram milking the cows. Because of this, I was the one who milked the goats that we had. I watched as the old man on the farm harnessed the horses. Soon, it was my chore to harness the horses. The majority of the tasks I did was learned from someone older than I was. Occasionally, I picked up a talent or two from a younger cousin. Together, we learned how to make our own tobacco and smoke the pipe. But, we would not have learned this if we hadn’t watched our older brothers. Of course, there were many things, we probably should not have tried. We were a curious and adventurous bunch. We knew if we were quiet and watched, the next time we would know how to do things. Then we would most usually get a butt whooping. This also was a learning process. What to do, when to do, and when not to do.

There was a time in my life I did a lot of traveling. I was going to a special electronics school in Geneva NY. On one of these trips, as I was approaching Auburn Maine, I noticed a car beside the road with a flat tire. Standing next to the car were four youngsters that appeared as though they were on the way to college. As I pulled in behind the car, one of the young males, started jacking the car. This was in the days of the bumper jacks. He had put the jack under the fender by the flat tire and began to jack. I politely asked the young man “how are you going to take the tire off once jacked up?” The four college bound students hadn’t figured that part out yet. “Well”, I said, “Let me show you folks something”. I then showed them the diagram in the trunk on how to change a tire. I stayed with the four until they were ready to be on their way again. Once they had gone, I was quite puzzled about their parents. I wondered why they had not been taught the simple task of changing a tire. When I had purchased my first truck, it was my job to do any repairs it needed. There were times I did things wrong. Many times, I did things twice because the first time it didn’t work. Experience was my teacher and she taught me well. Oh, there were bumps and brushes, cuts and scrapes. Many times, there were frozen fingers, but because I had watched, I could do this myself.

I sit here and think about what my children have had to watch as they grew. Oh, they had Donkey Kong and Pac Man and yes Sonic the Hedgehog but there were a lot of life lessons also. Because we lived in good ole Rangeley, we did a lot of things for ourselves. At least now, they have partial knowledge on how to do things. Some of the lessons were difficult and painful, but they are stronger because of the area. If one stops and begin to compare rural life against city life there is quite a glaring difference. If you were to compare the 60’s on up through to 2020 and what kids watched it is quite scary. Very few of them have had to sit on the floor by the stove and play Monopoly. They now gather on the sofa and play games of murder and mayhem. The parents are off working because of their debt load and this is how they keep the kids safe. We are now seeing the results of that type of life.

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