School-Day Thoughts

How often in thought I wander,
Back to those good old days;
When we were all boys together,
And joined in all the plays.
What fun we used to have then,
With that old one-barreled gun;
Hunting for birds and rabbits,
But never getting a one.
Climbing the Bellvale mountains,
In the scorching July sun;
Gathering the ripening berries,
And having lots of fun.
Bathing in the ancient mill-pond,
 Building and sailing the raft;
Scampering through the grist-mill,
And riding on the shaft.
Building our tents in summer,
Close by the old raceway;
And planning to stay till morning,
Though we never dared to stay.
How many changes have taken place,
In the few years that have passed;
The boys we used to play with then,
 Are men, they’ve grown so fast.
I think as you read this little Star,
You will agree with me when I say;
That the happiest times of life were spent,
In Bellvale, at work or at play.

by George S. Rude (Rising Star, 1889, pg. 9)



A Boy's Best Teacher -by H. Gordon Green

Seems to me there's one reason for today's generation gap which most of us would sooner not talk about-the fact that a lad's father is no longer his teacher. Fifty years ago, when so many families lived on farms or in a small town and had to work as a team to keep warm and fed, a boy couldn't help but know his father very well. And while we used to have a saying in those days that a boy's best friend was his mother, it went without saying that a boy's best teacher was his dad.
Certainly it was an education just to be with my father as he went about the day's work. True, many of the skills he taught me are pretty useless now: things like knowing how to harness a horse that doesn't want to be harnessed, or how to milk, hoe, dig, or spread manure on a windy day. Nor is it important anymore to know how oats, peas, beans and barley grow, or what to do with a pregnant cow with a calf that wants to come into the world backward.
But there were other ones more lasting: Like the dignity of work done with your own hands-the harder it was, the greater the satisfaction when it was well done. Most important, he taught me a lesson that the computer and the Ph.D.s seem to have left out of todays schooling-the meaning of responsibility and the good solid feel of having it trusted to your own shoulders.
I wouldn't have you think, though, that my father taught me only how to work. From him I learned the names of the birds that came back to us with every fresh spring. I learned the names of the weeds and the flowers and what they were supposed to be good for. The names weren't always the ones I was to find later in text- books, and the special properties he talked about were probably little more than a country legend. But he did teach me to look and to see, to be aware of the infinite variety beneath my every step. Above all, he taught me the one thing, which, I think, lifts man closest to God: he taught me to wonder.
I remember one long ago November night when the last lamp had been blown out and everyone but him was asleep. Suddenly he rushed to the window. Then in a few minutes he had everyone up.
"Outside !" he said. "Never mind dressing. Just throw a quilt around you. Quick!"
When we got outside all we could see was frost, coating everything with white fur, and the fat, smoky moon that lighted up a million diamonds.
"Listen!" he said. Trying our best to silence chattering teeth, we strained our ears and looked skyward where he was looking. Yes, we could hear them now. Then we could see them. Wild geese flying across the moon. "Must be a thousand of them," Dad said.
Afterward, as he pointes us back to the warmth of our beds, all he said was, "I think it was worth a minute of shivering".
Rather tragic, it seems to me, that we have neither the time nor the inclination for that kind of fathering today. Tragic, too, that as the years roll by, there never seem to be any minutes in them anymore.