Friday, April 2, 2010

A walk down Memory Lane

No going barefoot in the Hemp Creek valley

I had been working on a major rewrite of one of my many unpublished works, this time to get the word count down to 1,500 so it would qualify as a "Children's book". Now I had employed the editorial help of one of the most talented writers I know, my aunt, who can spot a mixed metaphor or a dangling participle from 80 paces.

We both were commenting on how times have changed. When we were growing up (my aunt being but a few years older than me) children's books were any book that our parents would read to us. One summer my grandmother read us the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - a chapter every evening before bed. Ours was a large extended family and all the gathered throng, from three to thirteen, would listen intently to the wonderful adventures of that free spirit. While we all had experienced the freedom of Huck Finn and would think nothing of building a raft to float the Mississippi we couldn't get our heads around that barefoot thing. I suppose being raised in the mountains where there is snow - or chance of snow - 8 months of the year, going barefoot isn't something you'll experience too often.

While we had many of the modern inventions: fire and the wheel, we lacked things like electricity, phones, neighbours and traffic. Television was only something you read about in the weekly paper. Consequently we made our own entertainment. Fortunately half of the family were very talented musicians and singers, the other half (of which I was one) had no talent in these matters but made a great audience for the performers.

I came across this Youtube video of Mother Maybelle Carter and it so reminded me of my grandmother that I thought I would post it. Gramma Helset would, after a day that usually began around 5 in the morning and ended around eight at night, after the dishes were done and the bread was out of the oven, would bring out her fiddle and play and sing for us children. She knew all the great tunes: The Red River Valley, When it's lamplighting time in the valley, and any song you could name or hum a bar from she could play.

But I have wandered far from my original thought and that was that we sell our children far too short these days. We assume they have short attention spans so we pander to that notion, and in turn, create children with short attention spans. The average shot in a TV show nowadays is 2.3 seconds. Okay, I made that number up but it is pretty close to being true. Bombarded with that type of visual stimulus day in and day out, no wonder we can't have kids sit through and enjoy the likes of Tom and Huck.

Here's Mother Maybelle, take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy.

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Please feel free to leave a comment. Ever since old Rebel rolled on me and I've been strapped to this old hospital bed I've enjoyed whatever posts come my way.