Steve's Yarns-- All those years growing up
and living in Oklahoma, California, Arizona,
Texas, and Africa..... Ain't done growing up
'til I get over on the other side :-)

Steve Van Nattan







By Steve Van Nattan


First, I give you a cute account of an old lady who is accosted by a diddle head at the check out counter about not being green sensitive.

After that, I write my own experiences living the primitive life and comparing it to the glorious new age of Green. You decide who had it better, me of the Greens?

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags werenít good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, ďWe didnít have this green thing back in my earlier days.Ē

The young clerk responded, ďThatís our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.Ē

She was right ó our generation didnít have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didnít have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didnít do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didnít have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didnít climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didnít have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the babyís diapers because we didnít have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts ó wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didnít have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house ó not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didnít have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didnít fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didnít need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But sheís right; we didnít have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. .We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didnít have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. There were not 50 SUVs waiting at the curb with our chauffeur Mom's sitting idling the engines while we chatted and diddled our way out of the school house.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. We had no dimmers to lower the light. We lowered it by shutting it off. And we didnít need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint. But isnít it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didnít have the green thing back then?

End of the story of the lady and the Green brat in the check out line at the super market.


Your Editor, Steve Van Nattan, was even less green.

I grew up on the Canadian River bottom of Oklahoma, in the Mojave Desert of California, and in Kenya and Tanzania in Africa.

Thus, the following accounts will wander back and forth between those locations.

We did not buy our pork sausage in a styrofoam tray with shrink wrap on it. We went to our neighbors in Oklahoma when they were killing a hog, helped dress the meat, and they always sent us home with some sausage. Everyone helped each other shell corn and bale hay, so we did not know about all the great modern farm equipment we were missing out on.

When a bale came sliding out the shoot of the hay bailer, it was not tossed high in the air into a wagon. TWO OF US grabbed it and stacked it on a flat bed wagon, and we could not stop to rest.

In Africa we did not buy our beef in plastic packaging which becomes eternal trash in a landfill. We went to the plains of Africa, killed an Impala or Zebra, dressed it, ate some, froze some, and smoked some. But we also did not know anything about the green way of doing things then.

Back in Oklahoma we had plenty of butter, but it did not come in a refrigerated cooler case at the supermarket in a carton that had pretty pictures of happy cattle and made more trash. My Mom would skim off the cream from the cow Dad milked (by hand- no milking machine), and Mom gave me the Mason jar of cream, and I sat on the front steps and shook that jar until my arms ached. But, it was soooooo good-- fresh butter on Mom's hot soda biscuits which she made with lard! But of course the Green Thing club you belong to has never shaken a Mason jar for any purpose, right? And, you think lard is nasty beyond words. There are a few people who still use Mason jars I believe-- they still get their corn from a Mason jar in the Rocky Top, Tennessee I do believe.

When my Dad wanted to go down to Bolden's General Store in Briartown, Oklahoma, he walked the mile and a half. Driving the car would have used expensive gasoline, and he could not check his rabbit traps on the way. When we had a baptism we went down to the Canadian River, had the baptism, and had dinner on the ground. We did not have pleasantly heated water from an electric water heater, and we had no well lighted baptistery with a picture of the Jordan River painted on the wall behind it. Furthermore; the cold river water greatly enhanced the shouting and praise of the baptismal candidates as they came out of the water. But, then, we were not as civilized as the nice big glorious classy churches of today.

We met for church in Oklahoma in a school house before the ACLU figured out that we were violating the US Constitution. We did not have to waste thousands of dollars building a special building for the Church to meet in-- no insurance, no vast well drained parking lot, and no maintenance. We paid a few dollars to the school board every week, and all the real estate we owned was rights to one closet in the school house. The school even gave us the coal for the pot bellied stove in the middle of the room. But, we were not very green in Oklahoma in the 1950s.

When I was a kid growing up in Africa I did not have a scooter of motorcycle to ride. I walked, or I rode a bicycle like all the other Wogs (Africans). I thought that was cool-- racing along a narrow path with a rice paddy on one side and a row of sisal plant spikes on the other, which was not dangerous unless you fell. I never fell. But, or course, all you green folks now know that my parents were guilty of endangering a child by letting me live so recklessly.

I got my driver's license when I was 18, and only then because me Dad made me. I took my driver's test from an African Sergeant in a Chevy pick up with a floor shift. Automatic transmissions were still a novelty and expensive. I knew how to double clutch before most of you reading this had started wetting your diaper.

In Africa we turned on the light plant at sundown and turned if off at about 10 PM. Our lights were simply not in use the rest of the day. Primitive, I realize, compared with you green folks who have electricity in use 24/7 so you can chat on Facebook with Charlie Wong in Shanghai, or buy his electric tea kettle on Amazon.

When we lived in Africa we had no way to cool the house on a hot day, so we opened all the house windows and let the wind blow through. For air conditioning in our car we had a Crank 60 air conditioner. Roll down the windows and drive 60 MPH. Only now, after I have joined the green revolution, do I have central air and heat running all year. In that regard, I like you green folks' method of conservation.

I must confess that we had no running water inside in Oklahoma-- I did the running. We had a well out back where we pulled up a bucket of the most cool clear water on earth and drank deep. Mom never washed many drinking glasses back then in an electric dish water-- there was a bucket of cool well water by the back door and a dipper hanging on a nail. The only rule was not to let out any backwash when you drank from the dipper. We were almost never sick. Hmmmmm

Which reminds me, we did not get vaccinations long ago. We got the measles and chicken pocks when we were kids and made our own immunity the way God created us. And, we had no flu shots. We all got influenza in 1952, and I have not had the flu since then. I realize you greens get three dozen vaccinations, and I suspect the mercury used as preservative in those vaccinations goes a long way to making your brain soft and tender. Just think of all we missed out on.

When we wanted to cool a watermelon in the summer heat in Oklahoma, we put it in a bucket and let it down into the well water to cool off. We backward idiots thought that cool watermelon as a real luxury. When we wanted to have ice cream at the church socials, the deacons brought a zinc washtub, two milk buckets with lids, a lot of ice from an ice house, salt, and the ladies brought the milk and cream mixture. The buckets were filled, and the big men took turns grabbing the bails of the two buckets in two hands and rotating them back and forth in the ice until the men were moaning and teasing each other about "getting too old for this." The lid was lifted every few minutes and the mixture turned over.

The ice cream was beyond description-- sorry about that. I realize though that you Green People have the benefit of about twenty other ingredients in your ice cream that aid and abet cancer, and there is so much sea weed extract in the stuff that it can stand up tall like pudding when it reaches room temperature. I do believe that it tastes like the back end of a mule though. But, it IS convenient for you lazy greens to grab it out of a monster freezer at the super market all packaged and pretty.

We stupidly failed to add chlorine and fluoride to our water to poison our livers and hasten the day of judgment. In Africa we collected rain water in tanks that often had dead lizards in them. The water tasted fine unless you stupidly climbed up and looked in the fill hole. That would result in retroactive dysentery caused by the mind more than anything.

And, to make matters worse, we failed to see the green advantage of your inside toilets which become vile with germs every two hours and need large doses of Lysol from throw away cans. And, we walked "out back" to the out house in Oklahoma and Africa where the smell was pretty gamey, I admit. But no one parked on the stool and read three chapters of "Trails Home" while a lineup waited outside and pounded the door. We also used old magazines and the Sears and Roebuck catalog pages instead of buying ooshy cooshy soft paper that fell apart and left your fingers........... never mind. Once a year in Oklahoma my Dad dug a new hole and pushed the outhouse over to the new hole. The kids in the neighborhood often helped by pushing all the outhouses over on Halloween night. Dad planted a fruit tree in the old hole which grew like it was on steroids. But we did not know of the glorious green thing we were missing out on, like landfills and stinking waste treatment plants. Did you ever notice how those wise engineers of the Green Revolution always locate the waste treatment plant up wind from your town?

Finally when life was over for some friend, they did not buy an exquisite plastic and brass coffin and a marble headstone. They did not buy a pricey piece of ground in a pricey park called a cemetery and spend half a year's salary to plant their friend there and preserve their body with deadly chemicals as if they would stay fresh for eternity. No, we primitives in Oklahoma and Africa dug a hole for our friend out back of his family place, rolled him in a white cloth, placed him in a pine box the neighbors made, committed him to God with tears and hope, and we laid him to rest in peace as he had died. We believed that God would raise him at the resurrection one day even better than he ever was in real life. But then, we had not learned the blessings of green thinking that says we must waste our substance on funerals because we paid him no attention when he was alive, and our conscience commands us to try to make up for it after he is dead and gone.

Oh, one more thing, when the old folks became lame and troubled, they were not sent away to a nursing home 500 miles from home where no one visited them much. They were made comfortable at home, or with grown kids, and they were allowed to die in peace without some doctor insisting they be fed fifteen dozen drugs every four hours and be given therapy by a visiting nurse who massaged their toes and fingers with and electrified gadget that cost the tax payers two million dollars. They may have lived a couple of days less than Green people today, but they died at home in their big chair in the corner. And, 90% of the time, "They died in their sleep" instead of in ICU with a gang of doctors and nurses shocking them back to life twelve times before giving up.

And, the grandkids to this day talk about how sweet it was to be sitting there by grandpa when, "He went to be with the Lord." You civilized Green people today obediently stay where you are told to stay, in the waiting room, and no one knows what grandpa's last words were, except that from the waiting room they heard, "ARGH" as the doctor did the last fibrillation that finally killed grandpa.

We were indeed pretty primitive folks back then. For the record, I DID NOT MAKE UP ANY OF THIS OR BORROW IT. I was there helping or watching in every memory above.

Steve Van Nattan