(ART BOUGHT FROM OREGON ARTISTS)
As usual, Caroline and I were wondering what food to buy for our bingo night; and despite the cold weather, we were sitting on my doorstep, watching the people go by all bundled up, walking their dogs, occasionally saying hi (despite the fact that I didn’t know any of them.)
I was confused about that part; Eugene was never an easily friendly town, long ago, you had to join a church to make friends or else nobody touched you with a 10 foot pole. So, you just got religious.or, you chatted about gardening a lot. (Which we did here because the weather was great for it.).Let’s just say this was always a “cold” town;we had a few very nice friends,but generally Eugene was CHILLY.
Now it was crazy and wierd, and very “PC”; not an improvement.We often compensated by choosing our friends with “great discrimination”,carefully, and older Oregon natives had the inside track cuz they were pretty nice usually.–lots of ex-working class, and past lumber careers.
Ok, we discriminated!Don’t tell me people don’t it every day, in every single way, and they don’t feel bad about it, either; they go deaf when they get hit up for “one more needy person, with one more poor dog “asking for one more hand-out, and that’s the millionth this week.
There ARE limits! “I have an old bus pass, would that help? No?”
speaking of the good old days I’d love to return to NO GLOBALIZATION; NO world economy. NO “Envision Eugene”. Countries would be FAR APART, again,no communication, limited travel, and you stuck to your own country, bought your tv from–Motorola. uh..General Electric. You probably drove an old Chevy or a Ford.
Carolyn and I were reminiscing, because even the weather had changed. Now, this year 2013 (whoops, 2014 sorry!) We had another dry, no rain, very bad drought year in Eugene Oregon, and that would’ve been unthinkable 30 years ago or even 25. But now we were dry as a bone; everybody would have to start eventually rationing water just like California.
“say, do you remember that ice cream place downtown, no just at the end of River road, where you went downtown? You know the little ice cream place that had really good pumpkin ice cream in season?” Said Caroline. “Yes, I remember that and that was the best ice cream in town, sigh.” I said. “And of course, that’s been gone up quite a long time. Now the only place you could get ice cream is something like Baskin-Robbins, or Dairy Queen, only BIG. Businesses.
.”and you remember the Safeway store we had here?” Said Caroline who lived near me. “Yes, wasn’t that great? And now it’s gone, and we have cut rate canned food outlets.” Another thing that disappeared; even Safeway.
“Yes, weren’t those the good old days? Eugene was completely boring, depressing, with a cute little downtown, a real theater, and a couple of real stores to shop in; a real active functioning downtown!we had ONE health food store, that was really weird,called Porter’s.that was the whole extent of health food them.” I reminisced.
“and Oregon was filled with lots of rain 10 months out of the year, pouring down like cold monsoons, and we had plenty of water. Too much water. California sucked all our water off us. And now we don’t have ENOUGH water. It’s like Alaska completely melting and running into the ocean; impossible..” I said, mournfully.Caroline shook her head in agreement.”everybody got cabin fever and got divorced a lot. So what?”
“and did you know, Caroline,” I further said,” did you know that the only weird thing in town was the Unitarian church? That was it. Okay, we had hippies in the 60s. But the Unitarian church was so weird, they refused to let a lit up cross be on Skinners Butte, during the holidays, because it was on public land.THAT was the extent of anti-religion here. Only that.”
“That’s not really true, Sandra,” replied Caroline, musing; “the University of Oregon and its professors, in the 60s were really weird here. Remember all the clothes?neon colored miniskirts? Transparent see-through blouses? Oh, yes and the introduction of POT to the community, which was a huge shock, and completely ill legal. And only one person was doing that. Some student reporter for the daily Emerald, ha ha ha.” I laughed, “oh yes that was a really big deal here! ILL legal POT SMOKING. The police force got really really upset.”
I continued onward remembering, at least 30 years ago; “nobody came here to Oregon, except weird people who wanted to hide from the rest of the world. Did you know that? I don’t think they were hardly any Californians or fleeing New Yorkers; we were way too depressing and boring a town.and everybody here was almost WORKING CLASS, and worked in the lumber industry and in Mills.”
“yes, and now there were NO NATIVE OREGONIANS left here; they were rarer as orchids in the outdoors.they left to get real jobs in other states.” I continued; ” There’s also were no mills now, no stinking smell in the Valley, there’s NO tons and tons of grass seed burning every summer, God. Everybody did agricultural work and there were lots and lot of orchards and gardens. Boy, did you remember that Orchard where you could go and pick your own cherries?”
Caroline chimed in, “and there was plenty of agricultural work for kids, all summer long. Green beans, and the canning factory downtown.I remember.”
we both got very sad, sitting there, not nursing a beer.”so what do we have here now?” Said Carolyn out loud. “Well, we no longer have the stink from the Mills, we have the stink from huge amounts of gasoline in the air from the traffic; we no longer have agricultural businesses, no canning factory, and no summer agricultural work. We also don’t have any lumber industry work.”
I looked at Carolyn, trying to remember the good old days; “so what do we have now to replace that?” I asked. “We’ve got lots and lots of yuppies, greenies, hippies, retirees, refugees from California and New York and the rest of the country, and we’ve got lots of “political correctness–ees”, plus overwhelming liberal Democrats – gay – fascist, Chinese Communist? Socialist – progressive – dictator– government, and tons and tons of TAXES. Boy, do we have taxes.” We both shook our heads.
“that’s quite a trade-off,” I continued.” So now we’ve got the modern world, technology, tons of traffic, and no jobs so we’ve got plenty of hippies and drugs and meth addicts? So what’s that supposed to be anyway?” “That’s supposed to be, San Francisco and Los Angeles,” said Caroline, nastily. “Welcome to LA.” “DANG .” I replied.
“I guess those were the good old days but boy we sure didn’t know it.hey,” I was thinking,, “do you know that my dad got sick one time, and we just called up his doctor at night, and he came right to his own office and met us there and treated my dad? So the doctor did nighttime office treatment? I forgot that.””wow, “said Caroline opening her mouth really wide. “That’s incredible. What did your dad pay the doctor anyhow?”.
“Uh…MONEY.We were poor,we just paid the doctor MONEY. We couldn’t afford any insurance so,yeah the doctors were good and numerous,and they worked late hours.Often a catastrophic illness ruined you; but nothing else worked with doctors but money, even time-payments.” “Like now,” said Caroline,” if you’re super-rich, you can ALWAYS get expert doctors.””Unless they all retire.”I replied. “What country could we go to, to get doctors then?Who would have them?”
“The undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns,”quoted Caroline.”Your Pioneer cemetary has the old doctors you need.” (Android-doctors ,anyone? Asimov had them.) “Too bad, they wear out, and no one wants to live on HMO insurance now.” “WHAT HMO INSURANCE?” i replied “It’s all been cancelled.” “Oh, yeah,, even my kid has no insurance now. sigh.”she sighed,”Emergency rooms, here I go.”
“Be sure to get a nap, while you wait for 8 hours in the ER,while you compete with medicaid and medicare patients, and uninsured, and everyone else.Ugh.No one has a real private doctor now–oh,yeah, billionaires. THEY got em.” “They do have the best.”
We were both quiet, trying not inhale the near-by high-ways cancerous gas-fumes, which had replaced the evergreens’ perfume that we used to smell everywhere in the county..New-comers had no idea how nice it had been; quieter, little technology.Maybe a neighbors’ new fridge was regarded as ” technology”.Oh, and “party-lines” on the telephone; SO radical. HAW HAW.
“TECHNOLOGY” was when someone got complex t.v. antennas on their roof.
‘-and there was no such thing as “world economic system”; “world communication”, and very little “world trade”. You probably drove an old Chevy or an old Ford, and you probably bought a TV from Motorola or General Electric. Everybody thought “Toyota”was a city in Japan.-(and did you ever see anyone from Japan or very far away? Probably only a rare exchange student. Wow, ALIENS.)
Yes, the world was very very BIG, everything was far far away, and hard to get to or communicate with. The way it’s supposed to be.
I remembered when “technology stress” was when your typewriter ribbon got tangled, and you had to fool around with it, and get your fingers purple..and did anybody know then, what a “satellite” was?
I looked at Carolyn; “that was when there was actually a difference between the Democrats and Republicans, and that’s what you really thought. Or you believed it anyway.
“and there was no way any government agency or police could come after a private citizen, and take him away, and not give him a trial or an attorney or one phone call; not in America. That was unthinkable.”
“some people were actually still optimistic about the idea of getting a woman to run for president, and actually voting one in. But they were considered radical, also.maybe next year; maybe in 100 years. Or maybe for sure in 200 years!”
“Who cares it wasn’t important.– because America was always improving.OTHER countries were going down the tubes.”
“we need a time machine, and I don’t mean a hot tub connected to it.” I said to Carolyn, getting depressed. “Wouldn’t you miss the cable TV, and the Internet, and the microwave and – let’s see – international trade? ” she asked;” You can travel all over the world (if you can avoid getting bombed or into another war). Would you want to give all that up? all the wonderful new medical science and treatments?all the great new kitchen appliances?”
she whispered, in my ear”, “contraception? You can’t get pregnant anymore if you don’t want to? If you’re smart enough to not do it?” And stared at me.
“what do you think that I’d choose?”I returned her question. “Huh?” she sighed; “yeah, me too I’d love to get in and fly right back – and stay there.”I laughed, ha ha ha ha. Right in her ear.
“wouldn’t you miss no microwave ovens?”I said, smiling. Carolyn shook her head. “No wonderful cell phones and I -Pads, and IMAX theatre, hand-held computers?? instant communication?” She kept shaking her head. “Would you really go back to cooking the old-fashioned way, for dinner in the kitchen?” “Maybe at least I could afford the food then. right now, I’m stuck on casseroles. Microwaves are only as good as the food you can BUY for them.”
but then I remembered something else; “what if it meant going back to the atomic bomb scary- times? Everybody was afraid there would be nuclear war. Would you go back to that? what if we got into the 60s, and the Vietnam War, scary upset society,, and everybody got shock over the sexual revolution?” Carolyn thought for a minute.
“yes. but we were all so young then, and we all thought we were going to have great exciting lives, great experiences, falling in love, all that garbage.” she said in reply. ” We had everything to look forward to then, and we KNEW we would be happy in the end.” Her face looked very sour. “Boy ,were we dumb. I bet young people are always dumb.”
“I still think it would be a good idea,” I said, “it was a much better time to be dumb in, then now. I think everybody believed their parents when they said, “we live in America, everything will come out okay.” No matter how poor you were or your family or how you got brought up everybody believed that.”.
“even if you had to pay your doctor money?” she asked, mysteriously.” You guys never had any insurance, you had to sell your house to pay your doctors bills when your dad had cancer.” “Yes I thought about that. But we built another little house, and my dad had really good doctors, and he got well; I don’t know that nowadays he’d be able to GET good doctors, so he could get well.”
“yeah,now your insurance probably wouldn’t pay for them. And they probably wouldn’t take time payments or wait until you sold your house. I don’t know what would happen to him now. Come to think of it, they don’t diagnose very well now do they?”
“No, they don’t.– if you can get in to see them at all. I guess my money is on the past, still, and not the present.” “wait a minute, what about all those wonderful federal government programs, and all that assistance; maybe you’d have to do without a lot of it. What would you do then?” Questioned Carolyn seriously.
“you remember back then, girl.” I said to Carolyn Just as seriously. “Yeah, we were always poor, but do you know, we had some pretty good friends back then, and my dad worked really hard, and so did my mom and even my sister and I did.
“The way it was then, if you worked hard, saved your pennies and invested it, you finally wound up with something.I think we actually got somewhere doing that. Not super rich, just okay.” I looked off into the distance morosely. “I don’t think we’d be able to do the same thing today.I mean, we actually did HAVE really good doctors, and we were able to pay them. Can you say the same thing today?”
“No, I can’t honestly say that,” Carolyn finally replied.”my kid just lost his medical insurance, because it now has a $5000 deductible I can’t pay, so he can’t use it. I can’t honestly say that there’s any better difference now.”she looked down the road, far away.
“The future was supposed to be a lot better, wasn ‘t it? Everything was supposed to IMPROVE life. weren’t we supposed to be a lot poorer back then , with less benefits and less opportunities then now?isn’t science supposed to be getting better? Isn’t EVERYTHING supposed to be better now?”she finished.
“Well,everything was supposed to be ADVANCED, more modern, improved, and even perfect.and it is more modern; but as far as being perfect, it was probably perfect BACK THEN; we didn’t realize that. ” I paused “And I never would have said in Oregon, ever, “PLEASE RAIN! Please please RAIN, RAIN, RAIN!POUR DOWN TONS and TONS of RAIN!” We always thought we had TOO much RAIN.”
“The hell with HP Packard, I’d give my computer for RAIN; I’D give all of Google for rain.10 months out of the damn year! You could do without Google but how are you going to do without rain?how are you going to use Google or computers to make rain fall from the skies on all the crops, and water the trees again?”
“CRAP, technology improvement, my eye!” I looked around, at the dry world that was now Oregon. “I’d probably pay several thousand dollars just for one year just like the old wet ones.but it won’t work you know why?
“You still can’t bribe mother nature with money.you can destroy nature with it, but you still can’t fix it.”
“You is right as usual,” finished Carolyn grinning.” I’ll go to look for our time travel machine, and you pack your bags, cause we’re going back there, and we’re were not coming back.”
“that’s okay, I returned, getting up from the stoop,” I don’t want to come back here anyway. I miss the rain too much.”
(sincerely Sandraminadotty, in dried out Eugene ,.Oregon,with only a trifling bit of showers,and lots and lots of DRY DRY DRY. We have a drought. and the calendar predictions say, it will only intensify; who cares, we’re getting in our time machine, smokin some dope,,and never coming back!! TOO-DA-LOO!!) 🙂
… (HEY,WE FINALLY GOT A LITTLE RAIN, MOST OF THE WEEK,BUT THE WEATHER EXPERTS SAY, “TOO LITTLE TOO LATE.” IT’S ONLY A “LIGHT SPRINKLE” and to even be “normal” we need HUGE LONG DOWNPOURS! WE ARE STILL IN A MAJOR “INTENSIFYING DROUGHT”. SHIT!! GOD FORGOT TO WATER HIS KITCHEN GARDEN. (IF YOU BELIEVE IN A GOD LIKE THAT.)——SANDRAMINA ) 🙂