By Joe Mayfield
As I recall growing up in the 1950's and the enjoyment of learning to rabbit hunt, and watching the dogs to determine if they are on a cold trail, or if the rabbit has been through the area within the last hour. What a shame, times have changed, young boys of today do not know of this excitement, instead they set in front of a television and watch cartoons or MTV. When I now look back, remembering how my Grandfather, Obie Lee Mayfield, passed onto me the skills of how to properly place a steel trap so that the animal will not get away, and the proper way to skin a hide so that it would not have a hole cut into it, decreasing the value when selling the hide.
It is a shame that today's young people do not know how to turn on the TV if they are unable to find the remote, and it's a shame that they do not have someone to teach them the basic living skills, or the satisfaction you receive from a hard days work.
I know how lucky I was to have someone in my life to pass onto me how to take care of my equipment, in order for it to last.
My Grandfather, (Pa), came from a family of eight boys, and times were hard in the late 1800's. Pa was born Dec. 25th 1888 to Mrs. Mary Compton Mayfield, and Mr. Leroy Hamilton Mayfield, his father passing away in 1900 when he was only 12 years old. Pa would always ask me "when was the last time you cleaned your gun", or "how long since you sharpened your knife". At night as we would set around the stove, I would watch Pa put saddle soap onto his leggings, (the leather leggings he is wearing in the photograph above.)
As I recall, there was not many things made from plastic in the 1950's, except the old radio that we would listen to the Grand Ole Opera on, but today almost everything is either plastic or made from plastic, automobiles, furniture, flat ware, if they become broken, just buy another one. It's hard to take pride in things that are merely disposable, how can you feel comfortable with an item you know may break each time you use it?
We are in the year 2004 of our Lord, and when it starts to snow, the public seems to lose control, the first thing they think of is "get to the grocery store", why do they not keep food in their home, why do they not set a good example for our youth, and teach them the importance of a well stocked household? Country people know these things, that's why young people that grow up in the country seem to always know what's important for their family's, and they have a stronger sense of family, and a greater love for the land and how to take care of it.
When I was 16 years old, my friend Jerry Jones, (Jonesie), and I would get up at 3:30 A.M. after spending the night with his Grandparents to go squirrel hunting on the mountain just behind their home, and we would usually be successful, and his Grandmother would make us squirrel and dumplings for supper. Once you've started your day off that way, it just seemed that you would have a better day at school. I wonder if any of the young boys today ever learn of this joy, of putting "meat on the table", or do they sleep as late as they can, and just make it to school before the bell rings?
What a shame that young people today do not have the opportunity to enjoy living close to the land, or learning to live off of the land. How can we show them the joys to be had, and how do we teach them that the TV is not their friend? I feel that sports is one answer, learning to compete, doing one's best, but let us not forget our history, and the things our Mother's and Father's went through so that we could have a better life than they.
I'm thankful to be from the "country", it has helped me in my everyday life, and it has helped me with my values. As with so many other country people, I want to keep the legacy alive, of those that have gone before us.
Published in US Legacies June 2004
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