Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Folks, the 70's and today

Comment script is OFF. I sure miss the days when we didn't have to use squiggly words to make a comment.

It is good to see that you folks still check in. I keep jotting down ideas for posts... then misplace them. I do remember one though that I have spent a quite a bit of time ruminating over.

An old acquaintance who came to Garberville with the back-to-the-landers asked me if they were as unwelcome when they came to town as the people that are filling our streets now. I found this to be a really tough question. I keep coming back to my old mantra that you can't judge back then by who we are now. I think that this is a great opportunity to point out what I mean by that. Most of us remember the 70s when the back-to-the-landers showed up. It was best described as culture shock more than anything. The back to the landers had to adjust to us a little, and we had to adjust to them a little.

One of the biggest things that I noticed back in the 70's is the thought that if someone found something on the street they would take it, because if they didn't take it someone else would. Up until that point it was pretty much understood that, all you needed to know is that; If it wasn't yours you didn't touch it. We started having to lock doors and take the keys out of our cars. The culture that the back-to-the landers came from, it was understood that things had to be kept locked, so they saw us as foolish for not knowing that.

I think that it is important to point out, as I always do, that all people are different, and not all people took things that didn't belong to them. But they all looked alike to us, and some were thieves. I'm not saying that we were perfect, but at least we knew who our thieves were. If something came up missing, we knew who took it and went to get it back.

One of the other differences that I noticed was the grinding filth on the new people. We never came to town without taking a bath and putting clean clothes on. The only exception would be the people coming home from work that stopped at one of the honky-tonk bars, or to pick up some food at the grocery store on their way home. I once asked one of the new people how they could stand being so filthy all the time. He replied in a voice of incredulity... "How can you think that this is dirt? The land around here is so clean. The air is clean and everything is so clean. Filth is only in the cities". So, that was their answer to why they didn't think of themselves as dirty.

An old friend of mine, by the name of Fred Wolf, once said to me. "You'd better make friends with these people, no matter what you think of them, they're buying land and they are here to stay. Someday they might be running you off." Fred was a remarkably perceptive fellow. I always thought hard about what he said. I did try to meet the new people half-way and accept at least some of their cultural differences. Some I probably will never accept, and I'm sure that some have some problems with me. But, for the most part, I think that the old-timers and the new people have formed a new society that that works quite well. I know that some of them that showed up looking like dirt-balls look pretty spiffy now. I'm not sure why they cleaned up but I sure appreciate it.

But, the question was how do the new people of today compare to the new people that came in the 70s. They don't... there is absolutely no comparison. The new people of today are just as filthy as the new people of the 70's, some of them are thieves. Shoplifting is rampant. Our store has security systems that record their crimes, we usually find them down at the park at the North end of town. They always justify the reason that they stole stuff by saying that they weren't hurting anyone personally, they were just taking from the greedy corporations. I can tell you that it feels pretty personal when we have to pay for it. Believe me when I say that the that corporations are glad to sell us more. So the thieves are doing more to help the greedy corporations than hurt them.

The people that came in the 70's would seem to start a complete new life. They dressed up in country clothes, bought themselves "mountain boots". They would walk in mud all day long and then they would walk right into a store with them. I once did an informal survey back then. When someone would walk in a store and track mud everywhere, I would ask them where they were from, most of them were from a city and didn't know that they should clean their feet before coming inside. The country folk are getting worse about that, and the city folk are getting better. Believe me you notice when you have to clean up after them to keep your store clean. We want the business, and we pretty much accept the mud. But really folks......

Some of the 70's folks were kind of comical, they were obviously from the city but they would play country dress-up; boots, 14 inch hunting knife on hip, jeans and a holey shirt, a beard was mandatory. We used to call them "Later-day Daniel Boones." They adopted new names, which was also curiosity to us. The local people honored their names and their families, to change your name would be an insult to your family.

Today's new people are today's carpetbaggers. Most are blatantly here to trim marijuana. They are not buying land. They have no interest in being part of the community. They will be gone as soon as people stop handing them money and bags of weed. Sheriff Downey asked me the other day if I thought that the people hanging of all over town were hurting my business. I replied "Yes, Definitely. I can give you a list of people that have told me that they won't come to Garberville anymore, specifically because of the pan-handlers and bums that litter our sidewalks". He then went on to ask me, "Well how bad is business off?" I had to tell him that we are doing better than ever, the same industry that brings the bums to our streets is the same industry that brings Garberville prosperity.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but some of my best friends are now among the new people that moved here in the 70's. The biggest similarity between today's new people and the new people of the 70s is that they are new, and culturally different from what we are used to. We adjust, we have no choice.


Anonymous said...

"later-day Daniel Boone's."
That's not what I called em'.


Jack Stegeman said...

Good article, Ernie. Your depth of thought and mode of expression amaze me.............

Kym said...

Ernie, You manage to put into words and try to answer questions while I'm still attempting to solidify a question. Thank you.