Thursday, January 26, 2012

The General Store

     Okay, I know what picture just popped into your mind right now.  You are thinking of the Old West and the only store in town where miners and settlers went to get their monthly supplies.  You are seeing barrels of flour and pickles, big glass jars of candy and displays of prairie fabrics, farm tools and wagon wheels.  There are burlap sacks of sugar stacked next to the glass display cases of jewelry and knives.  There is an older gentleman with a white mustache and a visor on his head.  Sorry to disappoint you, but, as nice as it would be, there is not a store like this in our small town.
     The General Store in our area is invisible.  It goes out across the radio waves everyday on our local radio station.  Every weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. the station opens up the phone lines and people can call in to "buy, sell, or trade" almost anything they wish. 
     There are certain ground rules for the general store.  At the beginning of the program they make sure that you know that you cannot sell guns, ammunition or pharmaceuticals.  You also have to tell where you are calling from.   The announcers also make sure you know that you have to turn your radio volume down as they will get major feedback while you are on the phone.  If I had a nickel for the many, many times I have heard the announcer holler "Turn your radio down" to a caller who didn't comply....
     When you call, you don't need to give your name, just your phone number, the town you are calling from and what it is you want to sell, give away or want to buy. It's fun to listen for familiar voices of people you know and what they are trying to sell or find.  People also like to announce friends and relatives birthdays by way of this program.  I have heard birthdays announced for people as far away as Georgia.  'Not sure the purpose in announcing that birthday, as the one celebrating won't get to have the novelty of hearing their name announced on the airwaves!  I guess it's kind of a joke to be the one to call in and announce someones birthday, and their age.  I don't think I would think it was funny.
     The problem with the General Store is that people view it as some kind of Santa Claus.  If they tell what they are looking for, then maybe someone will have that exact item and sell it to them for next to nothing.  Here is an example that I heard one time:
     Announcer: "Caller number 25, you're on the air. Where are you calling from?"
     Caller: " I'm calling from ______________."
     Announcer: "Go ahead with your item"
     Caller: "Yeah, I'm needing a couch in like-new condition.  I'm looking for one that is medium blue with a
     small floral pattern.  It must be from a pet-free and smoke-free home. I can pay about $25."

  I'd be really surprised if they even got a call back on that one. 
     One caller broke the rules and tried selling a gun.  The announcer let him get through his whole description, price and phone number before he told him that they were not allowed to sell firearms over the radio waves.  The announcer did make sure that everyone knew what the phone number was and even repeated it several times.
     I have used the General Store a few times.  I had a very old, upright piano that I was getting rid of.  This thing was a monster and taking up too much space in my house, so I called in 2 days in a row, telling people that it was in tune, and played well, and that I was just giving it away.  I waited and waited for the phone to ring and received no calls.  Finally, on the third day, I called and announced the same piano, but was asking $25 for it.  Immediately the phone rang and I sold it on the spot.  Weird.
     In a small town area, you get those who like to debate as well. I'm sure the General Store is not supposed to be a venue for political debate, but a few years ago, during a presidential campaign, the announcer and a caller got into a very heated discussion about the positives and negatives of a certain candidate. The announcer was accused of talking down on this candidate (he had mentioned the debate from the night before in passing).   I heard the announcer apologize later, but it was rather tense for a few moments. 
     I have heard everything from tractors to prom dresses sold on the air. Sometimes there is an unspoken story with an item that is sold, like a brand new wedding dress.  It's surprising what people have to sell and what prices they ask for them.  But, we all want something for nothing, don't we? And, you'll get that in a small town.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hail to the Indians!

     Yes, it's that time of year again and the basketball season is in full swing.  The little wooden footballs that were hung on the electric poles throughout town have now been replaced with little basketballs with the names of the players on them.  Red is the color of the day as the Indians prepare for battle.  Last weeks local paper had the pictures of all the players and their positions listed in the paper along with a schedule of the games to be played.  It's an important part of small town life and it keeps the winter blues away. 
     In honor of the Clark County Indians, I am posting a picture to boost their morale.  My husband and I found a book from 1914 in the walls of our old house and this picture was inside:
     This was the Kahoka Basketball team of 1914.  The game sure has come a long way since then. Doesn't it make you grateful for the inventions of polyester, weight lifting and Nike?? 
     So, here's a shout out to the team for a great season.  Wonder if those old uniforms are still around somewhere??  Maybe we should find them for a reunion of some sort..........but you'll get that in a small town.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Destroilet

     The words of this title may baffle some, but speak that name in our family and laughter erupts. However, at one time in my life, that name was a nightmare.  The story begins in a small country town where my daddy was the parson. The town had once been a Quaker settlement.  There were many beautiful old houses and buildings in the small town.   The church building where our small congregation met was one of the oldest in town and therefore, had very old plumbing.
     Now, before we get into the full story, you have to understand something about small town plumbing.  When you have old houses, you have old plumbing.  Often a house that should be described as "2 bedrooms and a bath" is really "2 rooms and a path".  There are still homes in existence that have a well worn path from the house to the little building with a moon on the door.  Adding water and sewer pipes to an old house is a major ordeal as well as great expense to have all that work done.  I'm sure that was the reason that our little country church had to come up with a better plan.
     Small town churches operate on the same principle as big city churches, only with a minimal congregation which results in minimal offerings and not much to work with for a pastor's salary and building maintenance budget.  So, our little town church most likely heard about this solution and decided to run with it.
     A Destroilet operates on electricity and propane or gas. Maybe that gives you some clue as to what I am about to describe.  I remember it looking like a tall white trash can with a lid and seat on top.  You would sit down, do your business and then shut the lid, causing a flame to come out and destroy what was left in the bottom.  I distinctly recall a certain odor that accompanied the process.  The whole operation invoked terror in the mind of my then 5 year old brain.
     There were many Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings that prayers were sent to heaven asking that the preacher would hurry so I could "go" at home.  Often, I waited too long and got in trouble. Being the pastor's kids, we spent a lot of time there. We were always the first to arrive and the last to leave.  If Deacon Smith or Sister Jones was in a rather talkative mood after church, it could spell trouble.  As a mom of young children, I know how dealing with that would have been a burden.  The question of showing mercy or exacting  punishment would have been a quandary.  Obviously, my mom didn't suffer with that same problem.
     Among the Sunday School children there were rumors of someone who had been burned on it at one time and therefore, did not come back to church as a result.  Understanding the full function of the apparatus, I now know that it would be impossible to be burned while sitting on it, but to my young mind it seemed completely valid.  No doubt there were many crude jokes that circulated among the youth group.  I often wonder about what rumors the old ladies and the gossip chain could come up with.
     I googled the name and found out that you can still purchase toilets like this, though the Destroilet is no longer made.  A company called "Incinolet" now makes them.  The pictures make them look like they have improved upon the original design.  No doubt they are a safe and convenient way of taking care of business, but no thanks on my part.  Yes, it does save water, but I want to save my children from the trauma. 
     The old country church I speak of has now become modernized.  I am told that they now have full functioning normal plumbing.  I wonder if the old timers in the church, trying to teach gratefulness,  tell the young children "Back in my day we didn't have things as nice as you have them........".  But, you'll get that in a small town.