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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Friday, June 6 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterThe gadgets of our lives

When my parents were my age, a frequent topic of consideration was all the amazing gadgets and labor-saving devices that had been introduced in their time. So they would be asked what had made the most difference. Mom and Dad remembered the first automobiles that came into their Northern Cambria County villages in their childhood. Their childhood township was still celebrating the introduction of electric lines to the farmhouses with an annual REA* picnic into at least the 1960s.

I remember when most of the secondary roads in Blacklick Township were dirt. Though we were in the minority as having a bathroom in our house in Vintondale (1942-46), when we moved out to what is now Allie Buck Road and shortly afterward to Redmill Road, we were without any indoor plumbing until Dad was able to install it (from the well a few feet from the back porch) over a period of years. The houses all were warmed by coal stoves (not central furnaces) at that time; Dad installed first the central coal furnace and years later an oil one. Now the farmhouses in the townships are getting (or at least in the process of getting) treated water from reservoirs and sewer lines to replace the septic tanks that replaced the outhouses. The introduction of city services to the townships might be worth an extended discussion here sometime later. But today it's "what's made the most difference"?

I expect that in my mom's life it was the acquisition, finally, of an automatic washer and dryer; certainly from my observation washday was her most work-intensive period every week, from starting with the wringer washer and tubs for rinsing to hanging the wash out to dry on clotheslines, to sprinkling the dry clothes, to ironing them. It's harder to say what innovation affected Dad the most. I suspect ever-improving cars would be atop his list, followed, perhaps, by the gas lawn mower. From Denise Weber's book I know that the mines were decades earlier than the small farms in having electrical and other kinds of appliances to aid the task, so some of those may have eased Dad's work as a pick-and-shovel miner the most.

The folks lived in a manufactured house on a private lot in the Lakemont district for their final five or six years of independent living. Mom's memory was so bad, eventually, that they elected to move into a nursing care facility, mainly out of fear that she would put things on the stove and forget them, resulting in a fire. But if she had moved on into the "microwave" age and given up her stove, she might have had a year longer in her own home which she, seemingly much more than Dad, had great difficulty giving up. Microwave ovens were common then, but she hadn't made the transition to using them.

In my life, the fact that you can buy a "manufactured house" (aka mobile home or modular) with all these features already installed and hook it up just about anywhere in less than a day (zoning permitting) seems miraculous. Of course every tract house built in the United States now also comes with all the accoutrements before they're put on sale.

In my work, the computer has been the greatest labor-saving device. I worked for several years primarily, for example, as a typesetter, a well-paid trade that for all intents and purposes no longer exists, because of Microsoft Word and Word Perfect. Publications have certainly been revolutionized in every respect since 1980, and even again and again since then. The ads on network TV now promoting relatively cheap color copying on Xerox-type machines is the latest chapter in that ongoing r-evolution. Though the publisher of the Journal had full-color printing presses when I was still editor, it's only been in recent years, through the changes wrought by computerizing the processing of the colors, that papers as small as the county's weeklies can afford occasional full-color photos. So the computer is the innovation of our time that has most impacted my life. The Internet, email, has made the best difference.

What's made the most difference in your life? What surprises you the most? What could you not get along without now that wasn't available earlier in your lifetime?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

*REA = Rural Electric Administration

Fun with Dick and Jane

Jane had a system for labeling homemade freezer meals. She would carefully note in large clear letters, "Meatloaf" or "Pot Roast" or "Steak and Vegetables" or "Chicken and Dumplings" or "Beef Pot Pie."

Everyday when she asked her husband, Dick, what he wanted for dinner, he never asked for any of those meals. So, she decided to stock the freezer with his various requests.

Now, in Jane's freezer you'll see a whole new set of labels. You'll find dinners with neat little tags that say: "Whatever," "Anything," "I Don't Know," "I Don't Care," "Something Good," or "Food." No more frustration for Jane because no matter what her husband replies when she asks him what he wants for dinner, it's there waiting!

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

"Why do I spend my life serving the poor?" Because I love Jesus. We are not social workers. We are contented within the world because we are with Jesus, doing it for Jesus, and doing it to Jesus. We are nothing and we can do nothing; but with Jesus, in possessing Jesus, we possess all things. And in Him, we can do all things.

— Mother Teresa

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