Rick Kraft

As we gather together with family to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I think of the world our parents, our grandparents, and our great grandparents grew up in. It was a time when a family get together meant only driving across town. Now families cross the country to share Thanksgiving together.

As I think of Thanksgiving this year I think of the Norman Rockwell picture of the grandmother leaning over the dinner table in front of grandpa lowering the plate with the large turkey while all the hungry family members are smiling, anticipating their home cooked turkey dinner. The artwork is called “Freedom from Want.”

There is nothing that brings back American nostalgia as does the artwork of Norman Rockwell. Mr. Rockwell started his career as an illustrator in 1910, the year Mark Twain died. He began his association with the Saturday Evening Post in 1916. There were still horse-drawn carriages on many American streets.

As America grew and changed, Norman Rockwell was right there with her. His artwork spans the twenties, the thirties, the forties, the fifties, and even stretches into the sixties. I have an oversized, 12” by 15” hardback book with 322 Rockwell covers. 

Looking through the pages, I walk through a simpler time in our country. A time when kids had fun outdoors. A time when life was not so complicated. A time when a stranger was merely a friend you hadn’t gotten to know yet. Comparing Rockwell’s world with our world today, I wonder if our world is advancing or slipping.

Our world would be a better place to live if we could return to the days of dirt roads. I received an e-mail many years back that was attributed to Paul Harvey. The story talked about what was right with the world when we lived at the end of dirt roads. I have taken the liberty of modifying what was shared and expanding on its content. Let me share this with you. 

What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many dirt roads have been paved. There’s not a problem in America today-crime, drugs, education, divorce, or delinquency that wouldn’t be remedied if we just had more dirt roads. Dirt roads gave us character.

People who live at the end of dirt roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride. That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is home...a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog. We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a dirt road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along. 

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape if they knew they’d be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun. And there were no drive by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous. They didn’t tailgate by riding someone’s bumper knowing that the guy in front would choke them with dust and possibly bust their windshield with flying rocks. Dirt roads taught patience. Dirt roads were environmentally friendly. You didn’t hop in your car for a quarter of mile. You walked to the barn for your milk. For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the dirt road got washed out? That was the best part. Then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn, took pony rides on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody. 

At the end of the dirt roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap. Many paved roads led to trouble. Dirt roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or swimming hole. At the end of a dirt road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a dirt road, there was always extra springtime income from the city dudes who would get stuck. You’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar...always you got a new friend at the end of a dirt road.

Dirt roads represent a time of yesteryear. A time before terrorists, before church shootings. A time before rampant drugs, before internet filth. Back when Americans lived on dirt roads, life was simpler.

My challenge, hope, and prayer for you today is for you to have a good ol’ fashioned Thanksgiving. Don’t take any of it for granted. Enjoy the smell of the house as dinner is a-cookin’. At the table say your prayer and thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Try some of everything, but fill yourself with turkey and dressing. Then eat some good home made pie. Eat so much you have to lie down on the couch after dinner.

But most importantly, treasure your time with your family members. If you can’t be with some family members call them and let them know they are special to you. Who knows how many Thanksgivings you will have left together. Once you are together, have the older family members share some of their stories of the simpler days when they still lived on dirt roads.

Just a thought...

 

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202-0850.

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