With yesterday’s eclipse, came a massive amount of videos and photos documenting the event. Before it was even over, people all over the world were able to view the event. NASA filmed it and posted it on their website…including the moments when the International Space Station flew in front of it!! It was an awesome way for people, who were unable to get to the path of totality, to view the event. While we give little thought to such abilities today, just a few years back, they would have seemed impossible, or at the very least, they would have shocked us. That’s because we have things like television, internet, cell phones, and digital cameras…but they didn’t then. The television was looked upon as a fad that would never take hold. People simply wouldn’t spend the money on one. How very wrong they were.
Lets travel back in time to when television first came out. All the people had were radios to hear about the things that were going on…or the newspapers. There was simply no way to show the people what an eclipse looked like, unless they saw it for themselves. No way to warn them of the serious dangers of looking at it. Things like that were by trial and error. Not only that, but they really couldn’t predict and eclipse. And space travel…what was that? Nevertheless, the dawning of a new age was upon them. The days of being in the dark when it came to world events was about to end. And television would bring with it so much more than just the news. Still, the television, when it first made its appearance on the planet, cost a lot of money. Far to much money for the average family to spend on the new fangled contraption, so few people had one. That didn’t stop the kids, and even adults, from watching it in the store windows, they just didn’t get to watch it very often.
As time went by, the prices of televisions came down, and people realized that this wasn’t just a passing fad. These days, nearly every household in the United States, if not the world has one, and those who don’t, have likely chosen to walk away from the television. And we aren’t even tied to our homes to watch television now. We can watch it from our computers or even our cell phones. Wow!! How far we have come. News is only new for a few seconds, and by the time stories come out in the paper, they have already been read on the internet. Before long, I’m sure the newspaper will become obsolete…if it hasn’t already.
In this day of the internet, cell phones, television, and radio, a new form of patriotism has emerged. The rights our American soldiers fought for are in peril. In a year in which many Americans were offended by literally everything, and the internet, specifically Facebook, has become one of the greatest sounding boards there is, everyone has stepped up to the plate to state their views and yes, even to hear the views of others. Of course, hearing the views of other people, is not always something that is well received. Sometimes, people lose sight of the fact that since we each own our own Facebook page, we also have the right to say what we want to say. Others may not agree, but that doesn’t matter, because this is our page…our right to free speech.
Of course, people with differing views have the right to challenge our views…to state their own case, as it were, but they don’t have the right to challenge our right to speak our own opinion on our own page. If we are offended by the views of another person, we need to move past the post. Never is this more evident than when the opinions of one person in a family offends another, and they decided to take things to the next level…unfriending. I won’t do that, because while I will state my opinion, and I will respect the rights of my friends to post what they choose, and to debate my opinion, the family connection is far too important to me to argue in such a way.
In history, patriots had to go to the place they were going to protest. And of course, by the time they could get there, it was probably too late to protest. I suppose maybe our politicians were more honest back then, or maybe we just didn’t know all that was going on. It has been said that some presidents would never have been elected if we could have seen them. That is so true, and sometimes I think maybe that should be how it is today. If race, gender, and maybe even party affiliation weren’t able to be seen, who would we elect? That might be something to think about. Maybe we need to stop giving a pass because of race or gender, and make the politicians do what’s right.
Life in the late 1800s was much different from life today, and in many ways, I must say better. It was a more gentle, moral time. I was once again reading through my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal, and wondering how it can be that every time I look through it, I see a part of the history of my family that I hadn’t noticed before. For a while now, I have wondered why so little is mentioned in the journal about my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer. Of course, the main reason is that by the time Bertha started writing, my grandmother was married and living in Minnesota or Wisconsin. She is mentioned in the younger years, but it was harder to know much about her daily life then, because things like cell phones, free long distance, and internet did not exist. I find it sad in so many ways that they could not stay in closer contact. I wonder if those of us in this day and age really know just how blessed we are, and how very important it is to stay in touch.
Because so many people had begun to move west, and things like towns, churches, and even schools were more scarce then, often, the religious training of the children happened at home. Bertha mentions in her journal that my great grandparents were dissatisfied by the fact that they were only able to attend church a few times a year. Carl and Henriette knew that this was not the kind of upbringing they wanted for their children. Even though they were both devout Lutherans, they knew that their children really needed to be in church…and they did too. It is so easy to slide in one’s faith when the family isn’t getting weekly or even more often, teaching in a church setting. So, Great Grandpa sold the quarter section of land that they owned, and purchased 320 acres just three miles east of Lisbon, North Dakota. Bertha remarks that this was a nice home with one of the few bathrooms in the country, and an artesian well. It must have been like moving into a castle. We take such things for granted these days. They did not.
The artesian well helped to form a ten acre lake, which my grandfather, Allen Spencer later stocked with catfish. Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher built a safe flat bottom boat for the younger children, so they could all enjoy the lake. This was a time of joy and happiness for the family. Life was changing, the children were growing up and moving out on their own, and new babies were coming too. Times were getting easier with new inventions every day designed to make life easier. Nevertheless, the problem of distance remained. I’m sure that Bertha would have written more about her older siblings families, had she had the opportunity to know them better. As a writer myself, I can relate to that. There are family members about whom it is more difficult to write, because I am not around them often. There are others about whom I know much, and so writing is easy. Nevertheless, if I write about them or not, they are all dear to me and in my thoughts often. I am, however, grateful to Bertha for her writings and the insight it has brought to me. Bertha has been an inspiration and a blessing to me. Through her writings, I feel like I know people I never met, and that is a limitless gift. It just keeps on giving.