by Carol Dunn
Things Change but They Stay the Same
Huerfano County reminds me a lot of when I was growing up. Just like back then, we break rules here, and we still survive. We do things they say “can’t be done.” And we manage to get along together pretty well, considering.
Forty years ago, there wasn’t bottled water, and who would have PAID for water anyway? If we kids were playing outside and got really thirsty, we drank out of the garden hose. Nowadays that is unheard of, but I’m willing to bet that many rural families drink untreated water and don’t seem much worse off for doing it. Apparently drinking water doesn’t have to be 100% pure like the TV commercials tell you.
When one kid was lucky enough to get a bottle of pop, usually orange or grape, we all shared, from the SAME bottle. Our germs were community germs. Any Huerfano who has had the same lingering respiratory virus more than once since October, knows for certain that we are sharing Huerfano community germs.
Our families ate fried foods, white bread, bacon and eggs, homemade noodles, real butter and fried pork rinds. Moms cooked with lard, and we drank whole milk – and sometimes it wasn’t pasteurized. I know many Huerfanos who eat beef that has not been inspected by USDA, eggs that have not been government approved, milk fresh from the cow (or goat), homemade cheese and yogurt, unwashed fruit, and vegetables that have been home canned the way grandma did it, not the way a book tells you to do it to avoid getting sued.
We kids didn’t have a curfew, but we had to get back home while we could still see to ride our bikes, since there weren’t many pole lights but lots of potholes. It’s still like that in Huerfano County. It gets pretty dark around here, and we have a few potholes too.
We didn’t have cell phones or pagers or any other way for mom to call us – except by screaming at the top of her lungs and hoping we’d hear her. Unfortunately, there are far too few places left where cell phones don’t reach, even in Huerfano County.
We didn’t spend a lot of time indoors when I was a kid. There weren’t any video games, no cable TV (we got two channels in black and white), there were no VCRs to play movies, no CDs to play music, no computers and no Internet. It was the beginning of the end when Atari came out with Space Invaders. I was a teenager, and I remember my younger brother scoring ONE MILLION points. I think it took him 20 hours. Nowadays it’s not unusual for some kids to spend 6 or 7 hours a day plopped in front of the TV. But farm and ranch kids still understand hard work and long days outside, thankfully.
If the neighborhood kids had a rock fight, nobody got sued when one of us got beaned and went home bleeding. Sometimes accidents happen. I wish our society could get back to that common sense kind of thinking.
` If we sat down and had lunch at another kid’s house, our parents did not panic and call the police. Everyone knew everyone else in the neighborhood, and parents looked out for each other’s kids. It’s still like that in rural areas like ours.
When we played games, one side won and one side lost. We learned to deal with it, and it made us stronger. In Huerfano County, we have to deal with a lot of things that make some people pack up and move after a year (or less). It makes us stronger, and it gives us character – of course, some are more characters than others. We deal with joy, and we deal with tragedy, and life goes on. It’s totally Huerfano.