In the ancient days of my growing up years, country people were quite sophisticated in their ways of communicating. Back then, we didn’t have telephones … well, at least most country folks didn’t. Some of us didn’t even have televisions or radios, but they developed a system that worked well for them when they needed to make something known to some one. First of all, most communication for rural people then was usually face-to-face; when we met at church, school, on the road, in the fields, on the streets in town or when we visited our neighbors.
Another method of communication was via postal mail. However, fifty years ago, not many poor, country people had even a stamp to mail a letter. We didn’t communicate via mail just for casual purposes.That form of communication was reserved for emergencies, and usually emergencies only. We didn’t even send Christmas cards during those lean years.
Perhaps for women the most fun form of communication is “gossip.” And when I say “gossip,” I don’t necessarily mean negative talking. I mean, for instance, whenever we visit anyone, that is an opportunity to “catch” up on the latest news and in return, pass on to the hearers any “going-ons” they may not be aware of.
Our small transistor radio was the only medium that connected us with the outside world. I don’t recall that my parents listened to it a lot, but whenever they wanted to know what was happening in town or beyond, they tuned in.
If there was an accident, a death or some other tragedy involving someone who lived waaaaay out in the country, some benevolent soul took it upon himself or herself to some way, some how get the message to that person or family. More than “random acts of kindness,” they were actually necessary acts of kindness. In other words, it had to be done, so whoever was able to do it, just did it.
At church, announcements of events at other churches (or in the community) were made during the morning services. We didn’t have notebooks and church bulletins to write on, so that little chip in our brain’s memory section was our “computer.” It was programmed very well to store information, including places, dates and times for future use. Even if we heard announcements on the radio, we still had to remember them. Paper was a luxury that we didn’t always have to write on.
On Saturdays, country folks went to town to shop and to meet and to greet and to laugh and to talk. They congregated near the town “square” for their weekly get-together. This was a time of sweet communion for people who lived waaaaay out in the country and who didn’t come to town often. So whenever they got a chance, they had to catch up on everything they missed and share whatever they wanted. It would be at least another week before they got back to town, and for most country folks, a week is a long time to not see and talk with people that they really want to see and chat with.
We didn’t have telephones and only a few homes had TVs, but still people who didn’t have sophisticated ways to receive information still had a system that worked well for them, whether it was hollering across the field or mom sending a kid to delivering a message face-to-face to a neighbor. Everything worked out to their advantage, even without the modern communicating gadgets of today’s sophisticated world.