Every once in a while I’m transported back in time. I see or hear or smell something that strips away the high tech digital world of the present. On August 4th 2016 I could have sworn that I was passing through some kind of time slip. I have posted about the Shay Reproduction Roadsters before however for those who don’t know these are antique car design with modern modern materials. The Aesthetics of the older vehicles bring to mind thing like the feel of fine leather upholstery and the smell of wood polish. There was a time when people drove for the pleasure of the open road and not just going from point A to point B. There was an age when a person’s time was their own and a craftsman was appreciated for the quality of his work and not just the sheer volume of production. The artistry in the architecture blended with craftsmanship and skilled hand gave life to the machine. Mass production made them affordable but each piece had its own personality. We gave them names and made them members of our families. When the older ones began to break down we learned how to repair the machine and extended it’s lifetime until there was no choice but to let it go. As I look towards the future of the motor car I can see a time when Artificial Intelligence just might have the potential to deepen our connection with the vehicles. I can imagine how smart cameras embedded in car will recognize our faces and the cars will know our names. When it will learn our routine and wish us a good morning as we step out of the house. There will be lots of bells and whistles. There is already cars with Wi-Fi networks to keep us entertained. Advanced warning systems to keep the driver from changing lanes at the wrong time and cars that drive themselves are becoming more and more common. But, in all of the wondrous technology that is on the rise I have to admit that I will miss the simple pleasure climbing behind the wheel just driving.
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Out of all the jobs I’ve worked I think “Rancher’s Assistant” was my favorite. My Grandfather McClung made it seem easy. As a pre teen my responsibility was to count the cattle a couple of times a day and check the fencing for any slack in the barbed wire. Even though I haven’t been involved with cattle for many years I still have an urge to take a head count anytime I see cows.
I miss the long walks out to repair a hole in the fence line. It was the conversations and time with my Grandfather that made it special to share work. And then there was O’l Count. My grandfather’s cattle dog. When it was time to rotate the pastures (moving the cattle from one paddock to the next) we would open up a gate and tell O’l Count to bring the cattle. Without fail he would gather the herd and drive them through.
Occasionally a mother cow or the bull would resist but the dog was way to quick and agile for what seemed like a slow motion attack. He would dodge to the side and circle back around to nip at their heels. Most of the time this wasn’t a requirement. We always fed the cows something special when we moved them and when they saw the gate open they would come running like pets.
The cattle my Grandfather raised didn’t look like the one in the feature image. They looked like the one below. They were Hereford cattle.
I believe that it’s a Lakenvelder bull in the feature image. The Lakenvelder is a dairy cow and it seem that the milk would be perfect for dipping Oreo cookies. 😉
Needless to say that when I pass by this herd on my way to my day job I have a nostalgic reaction to seeing them even though they’re not the breed I’m used to. Believe or not this breed is an endangered species. According to Wikipedia there are less than 300 of these cows in the United States and less than 1000 worldwide. Which of course makes it an extra special sight in the Appalachian Mountains.
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I remember the country store. We still have a few country stores in the world but not many. There was one gas pump (Petrol for my international friends), a variety of canned goods, perishables such as fresh vegetables and hardware. There was no vending machine. Instead a large chest near the counter kept eight ounce glass bottles of soft drinks on one side and beer on the other side. In the back of the store you could find a small selection of sporting goods. All of fishing tackle, shotgun shells and 22 caliber rifle rounds were common as was traps for fur trappers. But the most sought after resource to be found in the country store was the counter itself. Not a counter that’s crammed to brim with cheap impulse buys but a spacious wooden counter that worn down from being well used. It’s stained with coffee and soft drinks and scratched from hardware or change being tossed down at checkout. A properly equipped counter in a country store comes with a smiling face and plenty of conversation. In the days before Facebook we made a public post by mentioning something to clerk ( Who was usually the owner/operator). The clerk would then leak the news to the next customer during his checkout. ( yup, back then gossip was done without any social media). There was a bit of an art to being a clerk in the country store. Just the right amount of conversation and gossip would keep the customer in the building long enough to encourage a subsequent purchase but not so much that they felt trapped. The clerk knew everyone in the community and what gossip to keep to himself. ( A built-in spam filter!) Well, most of the time anyway.
Today mostly what you find is the convenience store. The best way to tell the difference between a country store and a convenience store is the atmosphere. A country store is welcoming and inviting where a convenience store is focused on bulk processing of sales. The later type is usually clean and neat with no coffee stained counters and very little in the way of a relationship with the customers. Just pay and get out. With the onset of automation the friendly clerk will be replaced by computer and a scanner.
My friend Sophia and I was commenting about how something made by human hands was more valuable than something stamped out by a machine. As we move forward into the brave new world of robots and app purchases consider the value of the people who are out there building their business based on a relationship with the community rather than just bulk processing of sales. ( And do stop by Sophia’s blog. She covers a broad range of things from an intelligent and interesting angle in the UK. )