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Prairie Notes: What will they do?


Fri, Feb 21st, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Lately, conversations with friends revolve around the same economic thread. What will happen now that gas prices fluctuate by ten cents in a day? What will happen to retirement accounts that had seemed such a good investment two years ago? What will we do if insurance costs continue to rise 15-20%, year after year? The conversations always lead to the inevitable question: what will our children, raised in a world of wealth, do if the river of money runs dry all the way to its banks?

The worry is real. While many of us may not be swimming in that river of money, the jobs, the pay, and the insurance of the last twenty years have at least allowed us to get our feet wet. So how do we explain to teenagers who easily tire of the "back when I was a kid" speeches, that the two decades of fast-food and shopping as a hobby have been an anomaly, not the norm?

How do we make our children believe that, yes, my friends really did have seven, twelve, and even sixteen brothers and sisters, which meant that wearing hand-me-downs wasn’t in style, it just was done, whether you liked the green plaid dress or not? Or that eating at a restaurant was a rarity, and in my case, it meant eating at Freda’s Bord, a smorgasbord where my dad knew that he and my brothers could actually "go back for seconds" enough to make it cost-effective? Or that the family cars I remember usually had one or two doors or windows that wouldn’t work and wore their badges of rust long before they were traded?

I remember once staying overnight at Carlis Tagtow’s home in town. Her family had just invested in a coffee table that they had purchased at a real furniture store. I must have been 11 or 12. That was the first I knew that there were stores that sold new furniture. My mother bought most of ours at auctions, long before buying antiques at auctions was popular. If Mom wanted to redecorate, we traded sofas with relatives. I thought everybody lived like us, in a house that was always cold downstairs in the winter unless you lay directly in front of the furnace. We had no heat upstairs, but we had plenty of quilts and the body heat of siblings. I had no idea we were poor, but that might have been because my parents told so many "back when I was a kid" stories which always revolved around The Depression.

These stories roll off the tongue like Henny Youngman jokes: Daddy was so poor he only had lard on his sandwiches a .....
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Journal Writing Project: Kyle Anderson

Fri, Feb 21st, 2003
Posted in Columnists

From moles to millionaires, and survivors to idols, television is becoming a reality show slugfest. Networks and producers are cooking up shows for America to fall head over heels for. The question is, when and where will they draw the line? < ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Matt Ruen

Fri, Feb 14th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Iraq, and the question of war there, has dominated the news lately. We’ve seen speeches, heard the inspectors report, and watched thousands of American soldiers deploy to the Middle East. In all probability, war will begin within the next month. I ha ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Jacob Grant

Fri, Feb 7th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

The other day I was resting in my car awaiting the end of my lunch hour. As I sat there I was thinking about the things that flustered me that morning and how they carried on to a rather disheartening lunch. I wished I could have moved to Australia. ..... 
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Another One from Flaherty: Can't Sleep

Fri, Feb 7th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

When I read and hear about hip and knee replacements I wonder what they do with all of the hips and knees that have been replaced. Can they be re-cycles or rebuilt? Over the years I have had my cars repaired with re-built alternators, clutches, engin ..... 
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A dream takes a hit

Fri, Feb 7th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I am just a little too old to be a true "Sputnik-baby", but not by much. Growing up with spaceflight, I was just old enough to appreciate the thrill of the earliest successes. I believe I was too young and maybe we were all too sheltered to have thor ..... 
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