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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Prairie Story 

Here's a story about visiting my Dad's parents back when I was 11 or 12. This was at the Dawn of the Age of Cable TV. We had it in California, but it had not yet reached North Dakota. We went to some town somewhere in Western North Dakota. It was flat there; standing at the edge of town your view was limited by the curve of the Earth. It was like being on a small island in the middle of the ocean. It was summer; we were so far off the beaten track that no (that would be zero) TV antennae were in range of this town. I had brought a few books with me, but for fun we mostly played cards (except on Sunday, because that's a sin) or played croquet out in the yard. All was as expected until some poor Norwegian (I'm not sure if he was a bachelor) farmer kicked the bucket. On the day of the funeral my sister and I were forbidden, on pain of pain, to leave the house, much less play croquet. Oh the torture.

"But Mom there's nothing to do!"

"That's too bad, you can't go outside."

"Look, I'm sorry that man died, but I didn't know him and I've read all my books and Grandma won't let us play cards because of the funeral and you won't let me play outside."

"That man's relatives don't want to see the Pastor's grandchildren laughing outside when they come out of the church. So read one of your books again."

I'm pretty sure that YW doesn't believe me when I tell him that when I was his age you couldn't rent a movie and watch it when ever you wanted to. The idea that you can be in a house somewhere and still not be able to watch TV is inconceiveable.

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