Don’t Fart Sideways

by kfrego

The small rural communities in upstate New York were generally pretty good locations to raise children. There was a sense of camaraderie and security that couldn’t be found in larger cities and metropolitan areas. You couldn’t fart sideways without everybody in town knowing it. Neither could anyone else. People were much more tolerant of each other and everybody was a member of the community. Many wonderful memories come from these communities. The community shared telephones and local social functions.

We lived with party line telephones while growing up. Very few people in rural towns could get private telephone lines. Most lines had three or four families on them. Each phone on the line had it’s own ring sequence. You only answered the phone on your ring sequence, but you heard the ring of all the phones on your party line. When making a call it was common courtesy to make sure nobody was talking on the line before dialing. You could listen to other peoples conversations if everything was quiet in your background. People could also hear your conversations if they were nosy. With five children in the family it was seldom quiet enough for listening in on our neighbors. It was common for someone on the line to break in on your conversation and request time to make a needed call. It wasn’t the greatest system in the world, but it was adequate. If you wanted a telephone it was going to be a party line.

Most small communities had a community center or town hall for social functions. This was before town halls became dedicated buildings for town governance. In Louisville the community hall frequently held square dances on Saturday nights. Local people brought their musical instruments and provided the music and entertainment. Women would bring cookies and other snacks to enjoy while square dancing. Men brought their beer and bottles, but they were consumed outside near their cars and not inside among the children and young adults. The dances were called by many different people. The hall would be full of people of all ages. The floor would fill with square dancers for every dance. There were no fees or charges to these dances. They were a means for everyone in town to get together and socialize. No bickering, no politics, no exclusions. Just everybody having a good time. Everyone had a sense of belonging. My older sister Sharon and myself spent many wonderful Saturday nights at the square dances. We walked home with other teens our ages when the dances ended at eleven o’clock.

Everybody knew your business in a small town…………but breaches of privacy and identity theft didn’t exist.