The Way It Used to Be

cotton field
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Down here in Dothan, Alabama we have a city park that’s been setup to give folks a feeling for how country life used-to-be.

I guess these parks are probably springing up all over the country, I’ll bet in New York they have a park that teaches you what it’s like to get mugged, or to explain to a foreign cab driver where you’d like to go. Our park is a working farm, and also has a real old-fashioned soda fountain. I have no idea what one has to do with the other.

There was a story on the Dothan news about school kids being offered an opportunity (forced) to go to the park and see how the south “used-to-be”. These kids had to pick cotton, churn butter and milk a cow. After all this “fun” they were treated to a hayride in a rickety wagon pulled by a tractor. That’ll keep these kids off the streets–how could they stand all the fun? One of the park volunteers stated this will be the only time most of these kids will see the real south, most of them have no idea about how the south used-to-be.

It always amazes me when adults decide what kids should be thinking. Even though I’ve been alive since Jesus was a boy I know most of these kids didn’t leave the park with a greater appreciation for the south. If they are like me, they left with a greater appreciation for how things are today.

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This plan to force kids to relive the experiences of the south is not new. When I was a kid I can recall riding with my mom in the country, as she parked the car on the side of the road by a cotton field. She insisted I pick cotton in the hot sun so I’d have an appreciation for how life used-to-be. Well, I got out of the car and I picked cotton, all the time wondering what I had done to be punished.

Once the hour was over and I was finally allowed back in the cool car, she regaled stories of how southerners used to earn their livings in the cotton fields and kids worked all summer in the fields to help the families.

I could tell by the look on her face that I was suppose to be intrigued by this lost southern heritage and have a newfound appreciation for things of old. All I had was an appreciation for air-conditioning.

Now that I think about it, allowing kids to have gratitude and appreciation for life today is not such a bad thing. This is probably a lesson we all need to learn. So, having kids spend a day at the park is probably a good idea, even if the outcome is different from what we expect.

I guess the next time I start yearning for a simpler time, I’ll just go out and pick a little cotton; life is bound to look a whole lot better afterwards.

Ya’ll come!

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