A Hill People Story for Sunday Night
In one passage, he notes one of his own fuel saving habits: "Put in more personal terms, I'm probably keeping an extra $100 in my pocket each year by coasting when possible, and accelerating only when necessary."
That brought back to my own mind some fine, fine memories, along with some extensions into seemingly unrelated topics of current interest. To me, it all has a unifying theme and character; but I don't think it will to very many others. Nevertheless, I'll tell you a little story from my own time and the place whence comes my sometimes unpopular perspective.
I grew up in an old family. My father was born before the turn of the 20th Century (or just after, depending upon whose account is to be believed), and my mother was born at the end of the second decade of that magnificently complicated hundred-year stretch.
Both came from the hill country, and neither ever trusted the wealthy people. Didn't trust fancy technology all that much, either.
They hated FDR, too. Just the flip side of Hoover, selling snake oil to the desperately poor instead of the wickedly rich. The older I get, the smarter those two old folks are. That's a little strange, considering they've both been cold in their graves for many years.
My father's people came from Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Dutch, in fact, but my grandfather broke away to make some actual money; he settled in Kentucky in the early 1800s. The census records show that, unlike just about everyone else in the county, he had no Negroes in his possession. He did, however, have no fewer than five unrelated girls between the ages of 13 and 20 in his household. We Germans are always supposed to be on the sociable side, or so I've been told.
My mother's folks came just about from the very soil of Kentucky: French and English trappers in the lower Ohio Valley. Just don't mention the Indian women some of them hitched up with, though; that was almost a worse secret than the European Jews in my father's bloodline.
When I was growing up, I did more than my share of time in hill country, and every last time we'd be at the top of a big rise, the manual transmission would get popped into neutral, and we'd coast down the road. Most of the time, my mother or father would say something like, "Time t' cheat ol' John D. for a while." This was, of course, a reference to John D. Rockefeller and the monopoly power he'd once had over the gasoline markets. My father even recounted watching as a youth as some towns fell to John D.'s gasoline station spatial monopolies created through predatory pricing.
Understand that, down in the hill country of Kentucky, West Virginia, and southeastern Ohio, it's not just that some of the hills go on for a long way down, and it's not just that they can get steep. The excitement comes with the surprisingly abrupt turns those roads can take. That, and the perilously icy conditions that prevail in the later Autumn, all through the Winter, and into the early Spring.
Although the seemingly uncontrolled descents into the valleys never bothered me at all, there was the occasional passenger who would get fussy when we were cheating ol' John D. and my dad would suddenly, in a small voice, say, "Shit."
It always worked out for the best, though.
Until I finally got an automatic transmission car, I would cheat ol' John D. whenever I could, except for when I had old junkers with bad (or, in one case, pretty much no) brakes.
To this very day, I still have my routines, but they're not so much with automobiles; instead, I have a Linux (SUSE) partition and a DOS (Novell 7.0) partition on my hard drive. Whenever I boot to one of those systems instead of Windows, I tell my cat, "We're gonna cheat ol' Bill G. for a while."
My cat understands. Sometimes, he even asks me to tell him again about the magnificent DLC/neo-Keynesian President and his Internet-inventin' Vice President who should have stopped ol' Bill G. in his tracks and thrown him in prison back in the mid-'90s but didn't, either because they really were clueless or, more likely, because they actually thought the Information Age needed its own round of Industrial Policy, complete with monopolies and oligopolies for a new American century.
Darned, but Mom and Dad were right when they said, "His mug's no better'n t'other one's butt." (They might have been right when they said Eisenhower was the last great President, too.)
I should go, now. People are suddenly standing around outside saying someone told them the sky is falling. I don't think they're really going to believe me when I tell them the inconvenient truth of this new American century.
The sky already fell.
It seems that last hairpin turn, the one into post-modernity, was a bit much.
The Dark Wraith should probably just stay inside and write code tonight.
Wrote Peter of Lone Tree:
Wrote Peter of Lone Tree:
Wrote Dark Wraith:
Wrote Phydeaux Speaks:
Wrote Phydeaux Speaks:
Wrote Moody Blue:
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