Mason County News
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009 • Posted August 12, 2009

Living In the Past

I have perhaps said in earlier columns that an older person when writing about memories is apt to carry you down the same trails he has travelled previously. Repeating memories from days long past has always seemed to be a prerogative of the elderly even though it is oft times a source of irritation when imposed upon the young.

Memories for the older folk are some of our most precious possessions and many of them, I am sure, we would love to live over again. But how many of us would subscribe to the desire in the song George Burns sings “I Wish I Was Eighteen Again”? To be eighteen again is a tantalizing thought especially when reminiscing on the good times of lives which extend from the horse and buggy to the days of space travel, television and computers.

My two grandfathers lived with us or next door to us from 1917 to 1935 and at one time we had two grandfathers living in the house with us. I am bringing these two old gentlemen into the picture to show the years I lived with and near old folks. Because of this nearness we kids heard the stories that they loved to tell over, and over and over. In our early years we were always saying “Yeh, you’ve told us that story a dozen times”, but Mama would shame us for being rude so in most cases we just listened and kept our mouths shut.

However, as we grew older and became smart-alecks we were apt to say “This is where we came in”, and then we would walk out of hearing distance.

Now you may be wondering “Just where is old Bill going with all of this grandpa palaver” and I am here to tell you that you are now in the position of those smart-aleck kids and I am now in the grandpa situation (actually a great-grandpa eleven times over). Being in this position I am sure I will forget that I have told a particular story before and like my granddads I will no doubt tell it again and again.

As you read these articles should you find that I am repeating myself and that I have already told some story once, then please don’t be a smart-aleck and walk out on me, just be nice and read the darned thing again. My greatest hope here is that the older folk, like myself, will have forgotten that they may have read it once before and perhaps find that they like it better the “second time around.” As a matter of fact I am currently running some of my earlier articles at those times I am short on something new and to tell you the truth I enjoy reading those stories again.

Now I will tell you a story (I think for the first time) about a conversation between Shagnasty and myself.

One day Shag told me “You know Bode, I enjoy reading your columns” and I immediately said “I do too.”

“That sounds terribly vain, do you mean to tell me that you enjoy rereading something that you have already written?” he asked.

“I most certainly do” I answered, “Hells fire Shag I wrote the stuff so long ago that by the time it comes out in the paper I have plumb forgotten about writing it. I am always anxious to read MOSTLY MEMORIES to find out what that guy Bodenhamer has written and quite often I say to myself “Some how or another that story seems vaguely familiar.”

“Just how far ahead are you in your writing?” he asked.

“Well, right now it is September the 8th and anything I wrote today would probably be scheduled for late November or early December in the Standard. However, if something timely comes along I will put it in the Herald. Then too I use the Herald to run articles that I wrote one or two years ago and have finally decided to release them. You can’t imagine the amount of stuff I have written that will never make it to the paper.

“Just how long do you think you are going to be able to keep this writing career going?” he asked.

“That’s a darn good question” I answered. “I have already lasted two years longer than I expected. There are day and weeks when I think this is the end - like right now - I haven’t written anything in a month. There are times when I feel that I have had the lick - that I have finished the course. Then some little bit of feed back will come along and generate another column and it in turn may spawn another. It is amazing how it works out and I certainly hope it continues because I enjoy having something to do besides playing old folk games.

“Well hang in there Bode” said Shag, “I’m pulling for you. And as for your re-runs - let’um come. Hell, I’m just as old as you and I have no doubt that I have forgotten all that you have written in the past.”


The content of this volume is only a portion of the memories, short stories and articles that are products of 80 years of recollections and imagination together with the thinking inspired by reading the thoughts of others.

The fact that the publication of these articles has brought enjoyment to many readers gives me a sense of satisfaction which more than compensates for the time and effort expended. Older people relate to these memories of the past, while to the young much of the earlier portions of my memoirs could be seen as a mini-course in history not included in their school curriculum. In saying this I have reference to children of today and even their parents who have never heard of a wagon yard which, in the glory days of the wagon, was like a modern day comfort station and motel to many of the weary travelers in horse and mule drawn vehicles.It was in the early days of my youth that “the glory days” of the wagon and the wagon yard were pushed into oblivion by the motorized vehicle

There are many of we old timers still living who remember the iron wheel wagon and it’s rough ride over those early rock infested roads. Even with a spring type seat the ride was still rough and about the only time the ride was not rough was when it was loaded with cotton on the way to a gin.................................





Read ye now my old friend Shagnasty’s letter as he joins ranks with me on matters concerning the current-day dress codes, some of which are a far cry from those in the days of yore when we rode the trails together.

Dear Bode:

Some months ago you wrote a column you called “The Hackdrivers Ball” wherein you looked with disfavor upon the arrogant disregard currently displayed by many in their choice of every day clothing but more particularly that worn when attending formal as well nationally televised functions.

Times do change and I guess that you may be right in suggesting that many of we oldsters are just living too long. Because of our longevity it is hard for us to accept the fact that the “slouchy” hack-driver dress code of days past is now looked upon as acceptable attire for most any occasion.

I don’t know how it is there in Brady and Mason now but when I look around down here in my country it especially pains me when I see our kids of today wearing this same type of clothing to church and Sunday school.

From an old fashioned viewpoint this youthful disregard for a more appropriate dress code bears witness to a lack of parental pride in appearances. It could also indicate a definite shortage of self-esteem as well as a disregard for what others might think of their appearance, particularly in a place of worship.

To many of the older set it would appear that today’s parents should have more pride in themselves and their children. While it can be said that pride does, in a sense, indicate a bit of arrogance in oneself it does, at the same time, show to others that one has a deep feeling of self respect and self-esteem.

Now Bode, you well know that back in our day when Sunday came we put on our best “bib and tucker” which was our Sunday “go to meeting“ clothing. Oh, we kids didn’t especially care for this clean attire look. We hated to take those wash tub baths, wear ties and polish and shine our shoes but our parents looked upon these things as a matter of family pride and in time kids accepted the family Sunday dress code. However, in those days if a child did wear work clothes to Sunday activities it was understood that this was his best and were therefore acceptable.

I am told that parents of today feel that they must embrace their children’s attitude toward the clothing they wear lest they become offended and refuse to attend the church functions altogether.

My father would turn over in his grave if he heard such talk. He didn’t believe in mollycoddling a child and from what I have observed in the days since my childhood his method of discipline was far better than that currently practiced by many of today’s parents.

In making this statement I am not trying to say that those who mollycoddle are entirely wrong. I am suggesting however that there are much better ways of obtaining childhood discipline that will be more respected by the older folk who still look with favor upon the old rule that when an order is given the child should obey.

I am also suggesting that the dress code once held in high esteem by our elders has been pushed through so many devaluation programs that an old slouchy sweatshirt now looks as good as a clean pressed dress shirt and is O.K. for Sunday attire.

And to those who would say “who cares what the elderly think about what my child wears to church functions” I would ask “Does God care?”. And, “are you showing proper respect for the Lord by not wearing your Sunday Go To Meeting Best in his house?”

So Bode, you can see that you and I think a lot alike and if you run this letter in your column, and I am sure you will since you seem to be running short on material, you might entitle it “Grandpa, you are living in the past.”

As ever, Shag

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