My grandmother, Mary, came to the United States from the
Netherlands as a 12 year old with her family. They settled
in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area - friends who immigrated
earlier had written about how much like 'home' it was. Fertile,
mostly flat, near a big body of water, the area attracted many
from the low-country of Holland. Her father, John,
my great-grandfather (whom I met as a girl) was a farmer.
They built a nice farm and had a good life.
There were three daughters, grandmother and her two sisters in
the family. Girls weren't considered hardy enough to be real
help on the farm, and my grandmother at age 14 became a seamstress
for a wealthy family in Denver. One of her older sisters worked
for a bookkeeper and later became a CPA as an adult in Grand Haven.
Grandmother had been raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, and
her attitude was one of encouraging, sharing and giving. I
spent most of my 'growing-up' summers with my grandparents in
Rogers City, Michigan. Granddad was a hunter and fisherman and
we spent many wonderful days together. In his later years he
worked as a timber cruiser. I wonder if they still exist?
He would walk through a stand of trees and tell the owner
how many board feet he could expect from it; along with
which trees to cut. Nothing in Presque Isle County is
far from water, or harvestable goodies of one sort or another.
It could be wild strawberries, huckleberries, mushrooms even
fish; whatever we found and brought home grandmother happily
served, canned or dried.
I know it was a different time and in some ways it was a better time.
I saw a 'special' last night on TV about how kids are being influenced
by TV, movies and music. As part of it there was a report on a study
which had tracked people from kids to adulthood, a total of 17 years.
The amount of violence and general disrespect for any authority
was frightening, especially when compared to a similar study 20
JC and I do watch/listen to TV quite a lot. We have Fox News on
during the day, in fact it is on now. I would hate to think the
amount of violence we have seen over a period of years makes us
immune to violence - or that somehow we are less civilized because
I was in high-school when my parents bought their first television
set. We did watch the Texaco Hour with Uncle Milty (who just passed
away) and things like the Ed Sullivan Show, which is being re-run on
PBS in our area. JC and I think we are very fortunate to have been
raised in a time where Elvis was the most shocking thing in the music
world. Our families were 'out-door' people who included us in their
There certainly is a coarseness and a lessening of courtesy in general
in our society. There are probably a lot of reasons, but I hear
language on TV and radio that would have made my grandmother furious.
I can recall saying the 'S' word once as a kid. After my mouth was
washed out with soap, I was told 'Holy Scissors' was acceptable.
Don't go beyond that.
You may think that's pretty silly, but I said the 'S' word outloud
in a boat off Andros Island one time on the loss of a very big bonefish.
Bonefish Simon, standing on the poling platform yelled, "JC! She said
the 'S' word! "
The Bahamian people are very religious. It simply was not acceptable.
I apologized. (And didn't do it again.)
That's a far cry from what is said on an everyday basis in some homes.
But not in ours. We do not yell at each other or swear at each other.
Most folks would think our home is pretty quiet and dull. If a
program comes on TV which is objectionable to either of us, it's
How did it get this way?
Pretty simple. Back to grandmother. She had a little saying
which somehow ended up on a tape in my head. "Wouldn't life be
nice if everyone treated their families as well as they treat
company?" It doesn't matter if we are talking about husband
and wife or the kids. And of course this is a two-way street.
Is any company in your home more important than your family?
Everyone in the family has to understand they are required to
behave in that manner. And you know what? It works!
Courtesy and kindness seem to be in short order these days.
It was much better in the days right after 9/11. But the
stress of everyday living seems to have diluted the milk
of human kindness since then.
There was even a comment on the Bulletin Board lately about the
lack of courtesy showing up. I will apologize, because it is my
fault. There have been some posts which should have either been
edited or removed. Some I left because I felt the true nature
of the person ranting came out loud and clear. Perhaps too loud
and clear. I hesitate to remove or edit posts sometimes so as
not to discourage folks from posting to the board. But,
(grandmother again), "if you have your feet under my table,
you obey house rules."
Our Bulletin Board has grown substantially over the past six
months, and no doubt there are many who are used to somewhere
else. We are aware of the problem, and I will try to do a better
job of monitoring it and keeping it the sort of Bulletin Board
we can all be proud of.
It boils down to if you post on the FAOL Bulletin Board, we all
have our feet under the same table, it just happens to be mine.
Let's see if we can all treat each other as "company."
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!