Latest News

July 7, 2023

There’s an old expression: “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” It doesn't make sense to many young Americans, partly because thanks to social media, they have no concept of personal privacy anymore, or of self-censoring before blurting out the first angry, ill-considered comment that comes to mind. But it also doesn’t make sense to them because most of them never hung their laundry on a clothesline in their backyard.

When and where I grew up, a clothesline in the yard was as much a given as a roof on the house or gravy on the potatoes. But frankly, the part about airing “dirty” laundry never made sense because no one would place dirty laundry on the line — the whole point was to place the freshly-washed and clean laundry on the clothesline so it would dry and be sanitized by the sun.

There were few secrets in a neighborhood where people put their underwear on a clothesline for the world to see, and whose houses had open windows with screens that kept out flies and mosquitoes, but also let the conversations inside be heard outside. Since we could get only three channels on the old black-and-white TV on a good day off the rooftop antenna, when TV was boring, one could just sit near a window and catch up on what the neighbors were saying.

And if they were on the phone, we could still keep up because in the days before the government monitored all our social media posts and taped our every call, most of us had “party lines” for phone service. That meant that several families in the neighborhood shared a line. Each family had a distinct ring so we knew whether to pick up officially or just pick up and listen in without saying anything. Party lines were much cheaper than private lines, so naturally, we had one.

In the summer, when it was too hot to sit indoors on an August night in Arkansas until well after sundown, most folks would take to the front porch. The porch usually had some chairs, a ceiling fan of some kind, and ideally a porch swing hung from the rafters or ceiling of the porch. If you were lucky, the porch was screened, but if not, there would be several flyswatters and everyone took turns swatting at flies and mosquitoes or wasps or yellow jackets. If insect repellent products like OFF! had been invented, we certainly couldn’t afford to buy them, and a flyswatter would last for several summers and usually was given for free at the hardware store when you bought some stuff. I don't think we ever had a flyswatter at my house that didn't remind us that we could buy lumber or tools at Duffy Hardware. And alI of our yardsticks (three-foot type) and twelve-inch rulers let us know that Lagrone Williams Hardware had paint and pots and pans.

As we sat on the front porch, it was a time to talk and hear stories about the “good ol’ days” from my relatives that didn’t seem all that good to me given the way they described the hardships of the Depression and World War II. We'd break out guitars and play music and hear the same old family stories that we'd all heard a thousand times before. In the sweltering hot nights of the summer, everyone who wasn't playing a musical instrument had to shell purple hull and black-eyed peas that had been bought that day from the back of a farmer's truck that would pass through the neighborhood selling peas by the bushel. Shelling peas made one's fingers turn purple so I hated shelling peas, and thus one of my many reasons for learning to play the guitar.

Sometimes the neighbors or relatives came to sit on the porch and sometimes when things were quiet on our porch, we just listened to what the neighbors were saying on theirs. Many nights, it was for sure better than TV.

The culture I grew up in created a sense of community, but also a sense of accountability. The openness of our lives with our laundry visible to God and all His creation and conversations being heard without the whiz bang electronic surveillance devices we would come to despise meant that we lived with our families, but within a neighborhood and community. And out of a combination of courtesy, old-fashioned manners and the need to survive by having neighbors we could count on, we didn't talk “ugly” about neighbors too much. There was a good chance they could hear us. That meant they’d never help us shell our peas again.

Also something to consider before hitting “send” on an angry, threatening tweet.

Leave a Comment

Note: Fields marked with an * are required.

Your Information
Your Comment
BBML accepted!

Comments 1-10 of 29

  • Carol Blanchard

    10/15/2023 09:29 PM

    I am so relieved that McCarthy is out as the speaker. I totally disagreed with you that he should remain. If you keep allowing the Rino's to run this country, we have no hope of survival. Its very complex & I understand that. However to make change was not complex. The people of this country were ripped off to have their choice of President in Pres. Trump. If we don't stand up , even though most are still in fear when they see the Horrible treatment of Jan 6 prisoners, which was one of my main reasons for being relieved McCarthy is out. How anyone can go to sleep at night sitting on the tapes he was privileged to have, that fact alone is a beautiful ending to someone who never kept his promises to help us recover from 2022. Deals with the Biden administration to fund Ukraine are inexcusable. I appreciate your support of Pres. Trump. I don't. You are only responsible for yourself. But now that we all were so happy that Sarah is in the Gov. Office. Her not supporting Pres. Trump is a real stain on all what Pres. Trump did for her. These are the kind of blindsided happenings that many in power think We the People don't notice. We see it. We just don't want to end up worse then in a Vietnam prison camp from the treatment most Republicans are giving any of the silent Majority that McCarthy was making deals with. Communism must not come to the USA. And the only way it won't is if the people stand up & let their voices be heard. Even if its only 7 or 8 at a time. We love your show. This is the first time in History I have ever dis agreed with you. Sarah being your daughter I mention as we were behind her in prayer & daily support when she worked under Pres. Trump. We have just been so disappointed with the persecution of Pres. Trump that we have not heard her speak out, now that she holds office, in his defense. If the tables were turned we wonder what his response would be. Please accept my apologize to offend. But when we clear the air of our grievances, it gives us a chance at the truth & fixing the problems I believe. God Bless, & Thanks for listening. Carol Blanchard

  • Dawn ing

    07/10/2023 12:47 AM

    This is so true, I even miss the days of being able to walk to my friends or walk home at nightfall without having to look over my shoulder the whole half a block home, to sit on a curb until late and watch the cars go by, and talk about dreams we had of the future. I have since lost contact with her, but those were some great spring, summer and fall nights.

  • Ed Thompson

    07/08/2023 02:38 PM

    Governor we could have been neighbors, everything you said was my growing up life, I grew up in a small village, very small, in the countryside, with a small town a few miles away. Coal mining and steel mills were the main source of income while other businesses were around, and to a seven year old life was good. We were never allowed to listen to any adult conversations about the world or even about family issues if it was negative. We were never aware of financial issues or problems involving family or friends. The tv was more off than on, and we were not glued to it, unless it was Saturday cartoons. We spent our days in the woods, making our own fun, playing hide and seek, playing a pickup game of baseball, building tree cabins, catching frogs and snakes and hanging out with friends, listening to music , talking about the latest baseball game and football games. Oh and everything we did was after doing our chores!! And everyone had them! Simple things that were very serious for a seven year old. And I would do it all over again if I could.

  • LD Brown

    07/08/2023 12:57 PM

    Make them ?? Foward I would pay first.

  • John K Lockyer

    07/08/2023 11:31 AM

    I enjoyed this article, having grown up in the '50's and '60's.

  • Helen Bremer

    07/08/2023 09:58 AM

    Love story and can so relate. The good ole days!! Appreciate all the good things you do.

  • Sherry Gardner

    07/08/2023 08:54 AM

    Wow, you took me back to my childhood. We are definitely missing something nowadays. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of days gone by.

  • Allen Williamson

    07/08/2023 08:49 AM

    Sure enjoyed this one! We're cut from similar stock and grew up in the same era! The interaction of people and families was really much better back then. Even as a child I developed friendships with the grocery store workers, the kid's parents up and down our street, played with kids I hardly new, and learned to work and help out others. I'm glad I was blessed to grow up when I did. I regret I didn't learn to play the instruments until I got into college, but after I became a Christian, the Lord opened the doors of opportunity and I've been playing guitar, bass, and a variety of other acoustic instruments for His glory for over 45 years now! Thanks Mike!

  • Karen Hinson

    07/08/2023 08:49 AM

    Really loved reading this. It brought back fond memories.

  • Robyn Harriman

    07/08/2023 07:11 AM

    So good to read your story and remember the good old days. Back then we didn’t have the appreciation of how good we had it. Good life lesson to learn to appreciate the season you are in cause ya never know what the next one will be. From the time we were kids to now has had so much change, barely recognize that sweet slow paced time in life. Our society sure doesn’t understand it or appreciate the lazy days of summer or hard physical labor we experienced. As we get older time flies but wow seems much faster than it should be. Thanks for your story nice time to reflect and remember when.