Total Pageviews

Monday, January 10, 2011


       The automobile has changed the map of America, not simply the roads and byways but the way we live.
Back in the days of horses and mules we didn't venture far from home. We knew all our neighbors that were in either riding distance or walking distance. The culture of life centered around first, the home, the town, the religion. The needs of the time we basic. food shelter and companionship. Life was harsh, battling the elements was the primary focus. We amused ourselves with song, we sang, we played spoons or instruments, we wrote poetry or read the bible. Traveling salesmen came on horse drawn wagons occasionally and we a novelty. Growing crops and making our own homes from wood felled from local trees, cooking on campfires, being warmed by the animals that gave us our food and clothing. Watching the weather and seasons change was an added amusement as well as concern. Sanitation was a  hole in the ground.

       The industrial age advanced. Tools were no longer fashioned at home from wood and stone. The iron age gave us tools that lasted longer and did a better job. They weathered better and were easily repaired. Their durability reduced the need to constantly fashion tools. The beginning of free time. A minute more to look at the sky or linger over breakfast. More tools were being fashioned using the new iron. Sewing needles made securing pelts better than tying. The wheel moved us out of the local walking areas letting us venture into the new world.

       Soon towns and cities grew and the collective imagination of a community fostered new and wonderful expanses on the same theme, adding a new spice to a pie, trying a new way to improve the wagon, neighbors helping neighbors, fellowship and commerce.

       At the turn of the twentieth century, here in America and across the pond, the engine was being attached to the wheel, further exploration beyond the backyard, further free time, faster progress.

       Then progress took a dramatic turn, the assembly line was introduced by Henry Ford.

More, faster. Here a few men, women had not earned the right to paid wages as yet, labored doing the same thing over and over again, monotony and routine was born, the same muscles exerted over and over, the same muscles not used.

The roads began to expand, the automobile began to belch and roar as it rolled the roads, the new sounds of  human nature. Man stamping his mark on the air and ears of every creature.

More and more the auto freed time for individuals. "Easy" money was being made as labors left the farm to work building machines. Populations began to meld, more people on the move meant more people meeting, discovering new cultures blending ideas further enhancing the basic meat and potato recipe and shirt and dress design. The collective improvement of the basic, embroider a dress, add a button, add a zipper, add a snap, add a flap. The interaction of generations improving the basics, the toilet no longer a hole in the ground. Slowly improving, yet more quickly advancing with the invention of the auto, more ideas melding more rapidly.

Road travel became the hobby of the rich, investigating and discovering the wonders and beauties of the countryside. More autos, for more free time, more assembly lines, more of the same. School books suddenly became simpler, teaching less, learning less. Doing more of the same. Playing more.

Roads and more roads dot the landscape. The dots being connected into lines and dashes, the countryside being erased, the mountains melted, the water evaporated, the roads stretching and groaning, the countryside shrinking. More cars, more travel, more exploration, more distance, and what to find, more walmart, more tacobell, more, macdonalds, more pizzahut. Every town, every road, every countryside looks the same assembly line stamp of America, losing it's uniqueness and local flavor. The towns are gone plowed through for a road, a highway, a byway an expressway leading to the same destination of the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment