“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peters shares his thoughts with us tonight:

Did you ever watch the world pass you by and you have no idea what anyone is talking about? That’s the situation I am in now, basic things like my 40th. reunion for the Lowell High School are understandable but there is no explanation for the excitement generated on the email pages of all things. I like to answer my own email, but I cannot answer forty emails in one night. And what connection does it have to Facebook? Some kind of connection because my comments end up on Facebook, but it is a far cry from questions of my youth, like when we watched the town of Manson, Iowa tear down a tree and we tried to figure out how many toothpicks would emanate from that battered tree. After all, that is all a battered tree could be manufactured into, we boys reasoned.

I enjoyed my childhood and I have every intention of going to the reunion because it will be a good chance to make fun of ourselves. I remember being about four, seeing a fire down the street in Manson, and coming to that conclusion that we had only one tool that would be of use in fighting a fire. I will not tell you what tool that was, but we knew we could help. No one asked us to, however.

Then there was the time I caught a bee in a jar trap. I believed that I was perfectly safe, which was not true. Or the postman who brought over Clove and Black Jack gum every day. You would not see children accepting gum from a stranger now. Or how the gumball machines used to cost a penny for multiple pieces of gum.. Or when my grandfather used to bring us into his gas station and buy us Red Man Peanuts and ten cent pop out of the pop machine at his garage. He had a fine collection of cars at his house but they were all stolen when he went to the hospital.

My life was interesting. Like living in Harvey (you can read South Chicago there, we were the next town over), and going to the YMCA to swim in the pool with a wide assortment of different races and cultures. When I moved to Lowell, I could not believe that there was one race in my high school class. We were all Caucasian. It was a shock. As a parent, I was so relieved that my children were sharing their school years with different races, especially Asians in Lowell’s case. I am totally pleased with the way Lowell embraced all sorts of people over the many years of its existence. Without the Greek influx I would not have my wife or my kids.

. Paul Marion has this new software program, also about Lowell, that is hooked into Facebook. When I wrote a private email to Paul asking him about the program, my comments were immediately printed in Facebook, so I quit. I do not know what these computer programs are trying to do. If they are trying to bring us closer together, it is not working in my case. Computers make me nervous. They are machines that think. That is scary. At the very least, computers, or iPhones, or a Kindle Fire, occupy people’s time inordinately, causing them to occupy their time by sitting in front of the television playing games on their toys. I do not even watch television. I really find it difficult to focus on TV and my computer at the same time. My wife has no problem with it. Neither do my kids.

So I am immersed in a technological world, over which I have no control. When I come up with a landscaping problem, I work out the problem with the help of Google. I also look up solutions in my library. I have to have an edge based on books, not just computers. I guess that makes me terribly out of touch and old-fashioned. But I am comfortable with that.