Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Memories of the past, hopes for the future  3/29/2000

This concludes the reflections and recollections of former White Countian Jim Hanks, who now lives at 2741 N. Salisbury, West Lafayette, IN 47906. His e-mail address is [email protected]

This material first appeared in the Lafayette Journal and Courier as part of a series entitled Millennium Mosaic.

At 76, I hate myself for the inadequate self control that coaxes me to vent my pettiness too often. Why do I fret so as the lines at the West Lafayette post office seemingly get longer and longer? I have time.... And why do I scoff at an unknown automobile engineer who designed my car's assembly so that up to two hours are required to replace a headlight? I feel it's a personal failing because I can't muster the same enthusiasm for contemporary worship at my church as some of my younger friends. Is my reaction conviction or merely old age? And as I fume, I also ponder: Am I now part of the solution or the problem? Am I doing as much as I should to strengthen not only my church but this good community's other character-building institutions? Why do I seem powerless to refrain from editorializing on every subject?

And the next century? I believe we are now only in the early stages of what is often called the Information Age; today's computers may historically be likened to the early fumblings of Henry Ford's assembly line. I regret the continuation of the trend toward "temps" in the workforce. Maybe it's primarily a generational reaction, but I deplore the drift away from lifetime careers. Newsweek magazine probably had it right by detecting more of a "me first" doctrine prevailing among the employed. Indeed, if the Great Depression produced a generation of frugal worrywarts, like me, the long job boom of the 1990s has produced a brazen self-confidence about how people connect to their jobs....

And this, more as a benediction than a prediction: I hope we have about hit bottom in intolerance, and there will occur an elevation in society's moral code, a muzzling of cynicism and a corresponding return to and solid strengthening of the solid structure of religious institutions.
Erma Bombeck, who must be credited with providing this century with a generous helping of common sense, when asked how she might have done things differently in her life, replied, "I would have talked less and listened more.... I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth...and, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it."

As age 76 looms shortly ahead, I strain to understand fully what the Apostle Paul meant about "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." May we all replicate the daily prayer of the late George DeLong, banker and Rotarian: Give me my share of the world's burdens to bear, along with Thy Grace with which to bear them.
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