September Journey with Phyllis Buell

Nebraska City News-Press


Have you ever looked back at some of the subjects that were “required’ when you were in High School and wondered “why” you took them?

Latin had just been dropped when I was a freshman. I remember my mother saying that Latin almost kept her from graduating. Margaret Dale Masters tutored her and she “passed.” Margaret’s father was the Superintendent at the tiny Alvo school at that time – way back in 1929.

Funny how life works.

Margaret was my neighbor for the thirteen years we lived in rural Syracuse. She, like her father, was a wonderful historian and recorded Syracuse history for the ages. She was also a wonderful neighbor and counselor.

We didn’t have any foreign languages in the late 40’s at Elmwood High School. I have always wished I could have studied German, my family heritage. It was taught for several years in Murdock. Spanish is no longer considered a foreign language, is it? It might soon be required.

So - languages weren’t my problems. It was the higher math classes that I really haven’t used since I left the little cracker box school that housed Elmwood students from K-12 when I attended.

I haven’t wondered why 2 x’s didn’t add up to 3 y’s or whatever, since I closed the book. Absolutely nothing in the Geometry or Physics manual has proven essential to my life either.

We didn’t have Home Economics and heaven forbid that girls would take “Shop” in the 1940’s.

4-H helped me with basic cooking and sewing, but it would have been helpful if I had learned which end of a hammer pounded a nail. (Really, I’m not quite that bad.)

Do you think cursive writing will ever be taught again? A friend of mine recently wrote to her grandson that just joined a branch of the U. S. Service. She printed it so he could read it. He phoned her to say he couldn’t read the letter she had “written” to him previously, so obliging grandmother that she is, she printed the next one!

Digital watches have ended the need to “tell time.” I didn’t realize that timepieces with “hands” indicating the time are confusing to persons that have grown up with nothing but the digital versions.

I think I could still drive a “stick shift.” After all, that is how I learned to drive. Frankly, I still enjoy the fact that my vehicle today is automatic. So simple. I don’t have one of those fancy back up cameras, but I think they would be a big help.

My grandsons have decreed I have to back into the parking space where I live. I tried to tell them I couldn’t do it at my advanced age. They didn’t pay any attention to me, telling me I had to back out half of every time I parked anyway. They seem to think it is safer if I drive out rather than back out – duh! Son Mark tells me to do a “three point backup.” It seems Driving Instructor Dale Hall taught that skill. Most “kids” of my generation learned to drive in a pasture or quiet country roads. It takes me a country mile to recreate that backup today.

Helping in the fields basically ended for this farm wife when hand clutches were replaced with all of the new ways of gear sifting. That took place in John Deere tractors right after the 1948 “A” that was our first model. Of course our “A” hung around for many, many years. I could actually back that one up very well and hook it up to a hay rack or wagon. It is the newer ones that confounded me.

The saying is that “everything old becomes new again . . .”

When that happens, I hope I can pick and choose.

Phyllis Buell, September Journeys