Sign of the times?

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SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
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Sign of the times?

Rosemary Sims's picture
Rosemary Sims
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Joined: Oct 2 2008
Posts: 81
Re: Sign of the times?

Thanks for posting that, Sam.  I like that they got the demographics almost right in the second frame, too. (Blacks are roughly 12% of  US population - where are the now 8% legal hispanics and 6+% asians?)  While I enjoyed the irony of the piece - that in 1929, it was the various European ethnic groups who probably suffered most, it was of course not so.  

Today I was in Walmart shopping the food mart and standing in front of the baking section in front of the flours/yeast (trying to get my manual bread making skills up to snuff again, loading up on esoteric yeast).  Almost exactly next to me was a guy looking for whole wheat flour.  I was shocked.  In the small coastal towns of Louisiana, "whole wheat bread" is Bunny Bread fake sponge dyed tan with darker flecks to make you think you are eating something healthy.  He wanted to try out some whole wheat stuff, but didn't want to buy the 5# size, the only he had found.  And it was his first time trying to make bread.  At first I thought he was some late middle age yuppy guy trying to brag cool to his friends later but as we talked, I realized he might have a clue. 

Turns out he is from Plaquemines Parish, just south of my former home in New Orleans.  When Katrina wiped out everything he and his wife had, including home, land, etc, they just stayed in this area which was not harmed by Katrina or Rita, exactly the reason I moved here.  So we talked about what is to come.  He told me that he has done such preparations in the past at the behest of a Morman friend of he and his wife - "stored beans in the attic, etc".  But he was full of blame, as I imagine the guys in your frames would be at their loss of identity as breadwinners.  He blamed the Jews, although a Jew himself, and gave me links, etc, to prove this.  I tried (probably without success) to deflect this and focus on what needs to be done now.  He was indeed preparing as we met, but still his heart was full of blame.

He said an interesting thing that I had not heard in this area in a long, long time:  "I can work with and be friends with a black man just as I used to with colored men in the old days, but I can't work with a "nigger" (meaning "they think they got a right to everything because you white people done me wrong in the 1800's kind of person).  "Yes" I said.  "I have a hard time working with "poor white trash as well".  CLICK  We understood each other, and we talked until the stuff in my basket was melting drippy on the floor.  He has the link to come here to learn that what has happened may not be the fault of any class, race or country, but rather that we should simply prepare for the next step in our civilization and enjoy life while we do so. 

Rosemary

 

 

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
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Re: Sign of the times?

Thanks for that interesting story, Rosemary.

I didn't expect any replies to my post - it was meant to be dry humor - although I guess it does have a bite to it.

I liked your response to the guy you were talking to in Wal-Mart. To some extent, I can't blame him for being bitter. When you've lost everything, it's hard to maintain a positive attitude about life.

... they just stayed in this area which was not harmed by Katrina or Rita, exactly the reason I moved here.

This comment of yours intrigued me. Where is "here"?

Rosemary Sims's picture
Rosemary Sims
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Posts: 81
Re: Sign of the times?

"Home" is a little village very near Jennings, a small town in far south
Louisiana.  We have only a few hundred people which doesn't even
qualify us for USPS home delivered mail so everybody's got to have a PO
box, albeit free since that is what USPS guarantees.  I was shopping at the Jennings Walmart when I met that guy. 

There are several reasons I moved here, chief among them the fact that the folks who live here, though mostly uneducated, are as self sufficient as can be found in an ordinarily evolved small, small town in the US, and the town was settled on the banks of a navigable river (read fresh water from an unpolluted stream) with a main line rail line running by it.  There are many skills in this town and much potential for a happy and productive twilight of my life in this town.  I decided to move to a small apartment house on a huge lot with an arable field next door (well, it's a rice field (crawfish!) -but you grow veggies on the levees).  The maintenance guy and I had gotten into a conversation when I first looked at this place and I learned that almost everybody in town grows some sort of animal for consumption or eggs, grows vegetables, and that they will hardly ever throw something away but rather work hours to try to fix it, and then pass it on to somebody who needs it.   Today, somebody brought me a single fine thread sewing needle (used for silk) they had found on the hall floor and asked if I sewed.  I think mine is probably one of maybe 10 computers in the whole town.  There is one small grocery store (expensive) and one restaurant (cheap), no gas station,  one room police station with one cop car (no jail), world class volunteer fire department, and the very small library (part of the superb LA/Acadia Parish system) is open only on Thursdays between 1 pm and 5 pm. The local bank ( one of 3 branches, out of Crowley) is the only truly beautiful piece of architecture here and I think the largest (but maybe the church is) has no ATM and closes at 2 pm, except on Fridays when it closes at 5. 

It takes a lot of slowing down to enjoy living in a small place like this, but the benefits are mighty.  Especially that there will never be a problem with water or cold. But I find that it does tend to get one's priorities in order, especially listening to the stories of our elders if you value them for their skills and experience and are willing to listen for a long time, and I mean without opening your mouth.

I am learning a lot from these people. Just by sitting under the canopy on a recent lovely morning with the old folks here, I learned how to maintain a yeast sponge over time (so that new yeast is not required for every new batch of bread), the basics of how they butcher different sorts of meat and fowl (everybody needs rabbits!),  and the different ways they are preserved.  Preservation of vegetables is not as important here as it is in colder climates because something can be grown here 12 months of the year. Strawberries are for early spring, tomatoes for late spring through early summer, and then again in fall "until frost comes", cabbage and broccoli are for winter, potatoes ("a weed") almost anytime, etc.

There is also very little of the "we" "they" stuff gang/feudal sort of stuff going on in this little place.  I don't smell a lot of clan stuff.   While there is a lot of gossiping here, the real derogatories only start spinning around town if some know-it-all with an education or "expert" credentials comes into town thinking they know more than the townfolks because they are "uneducated".  One I heard about ("the PhD' who introduced himself as "Dr") finally drove away shaking his head because he was "only trying trying to help those poor people" rise out of what he perceived as "poverty".  Of course what he had actually done was insult their perfectly happy way of life, hadn't he?  "He so ignorant" Miss Margie said, shaking her head sadly. "If only our Native Americans had done that as well" I thought, shaking my head too.  But had I said it out loud, she would have glanced at me briefly, probably thinking of me as snooty to talk about something I should have known she knew little about and disappointed that it had nothing at all to do with her story.  But it was only a thought in my head and so she thought I was shaking my head over the poor PhD and she continued with another story.

The people here, mostly of Cajun, Native American, Black and German ancestry, have hearts of gold and after they get to know you are not a snoot, can be so very generous.  I am sleeping on a box spring given to me by a "neighbor" across town who also helped me get it here and set everything up.  The maintenance man, who raises cows, sheep, goats, chickens of many sorts, quail and stuff I can't even remember and is building a hog wallow now, sells us eggs for $1 a dozen and sometimes brings meat over for us when he slaughters.  Acadia Parish has its own electricity co-op (home base in Lafayette) and hi-speed ISP (radio waves out of Crowley).  You can call up about your electricity account and ask for Jim or whoever, who gets on the phone and he actually remembers who you are and where you live.  When Gustav came last year, Slemco lines were the first up in our area and  I actually cried when I found that I had to have Entergy when I moved here.  It is the same with the ISP in Crowley.  They require a deposit I cannot afford at this time, but the first time I called them to schedule installation, she said "Oh! You must be right down the hall from Miss blah-blah.  I bet we can squeeze you in on blah-blah date because Jim has to fix (something on the receiving equipment).  But lemme call you back Miss Rosemary and let you know."  And she did.  And when she did,  I wept again to be back in the real world where real people relate to each other as fellow human beings.

I haven't looked into it really, languishing as I am in such a comfortable place, but there is a town just south of here (a little more vulnerable to hurricanes, flooding, clique-i-ness, etc), which maintains its own levees (meaning no  reliance on Corps of Engineers, those whose ineptitude or lack of funding flooded New Orleans - notification of formosan termite infestation in the NO levee structure had been sent to them long time ago by LSU-AG)  etc, or even reliance on Louisiana's once infamously crooked Levee Boards (now consolidated).  But this general area of LA I think is a fine place to be, whatever the political or economic climate "outside".  And if that climate is as some predict for the future, it will be a very, very nice place indeed - no huge industry near, no military installations near, nothing to interest anybody at all (well, maybe the main railway).  Just a bunch of poor folk scraping along.  There is more concrete in the parking lot of Dollar General in Jennings than in my whole town, and I am so relieved.

Culture, you say?  Well, I can visit the city for classical music, art exhibits, opera and the ballet, but this is where I want to live.  So whether shtf tomorrow or after I die, I think my last 20 years, sans conspicuous consumption, will be happy ones.  Would I move here now if I had young children?  You bet your sweet 'noonies I would! 

Hmmm...  Looks like I got in a yakking mood and told you way more than you asked!  Can you tell I really like this little town?  Now off to follow Iditarod, the heart of self sufficiency without the yuppiness.

Rosemary

 

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Sign of the times?

Rosemary,

Hmmm...  Looks like I got in a yakking mood and told you way more than you asked!

Not at all, not at all. I thoroughly enjoyed your stream of consciousness. And yes, I can tell you really like that little town. Smile

Truth be told, I envy you. I am, on the whole, content with a minimalist life style and would enjoy being part of a self-sufficient community such as you describe. However, being married and having family tied to this area through their work, I know that my wife would never countenance our pulling up stakes and moving to a small town. So, I read stories like yours as if I'm reading a novel - and I dream.................
Undecided

 

When Gustav came last year, Slemco lines were the first up in our area
and  I actually cried when I found that I had to have Entergy when I
moved here.  It is the same with the ISP in Crowley.  They require a
deposit I cannot afford at this time, but the first time I called them
to schedule installation, she said "Oh! You must be right down the hall
from Miss blah-blah.

This part of your story interested me as I don't recognize some of the names or the context. Is "Slemco" a telephone company? And why was your small community first to get service restored instead of some larger towns?

What did you mean when you said, "... I actually cried when I found that I had to have Entergy when I
moved here." What is Entergy and why were you upset?

If the ISP in Crowley is something that requires "a
deposit I cannot afford at this time,...", how are you accessing the Internet?

 

... and the town was settled on the banks of a navigable river (read fresh water from an unpolluted stream) ...

Is there any concern with flooding? That can be a problem in small towns on river banks. When I lived in Fargo, ND for 10 years back in the 1970's, there were always flooding issues every Spring.

What you have described sounds very much like what many people in these forums are striving for - except you have already achieved it - good for you!

Rosemary Sims's picture
Rosemary Sims
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 2 2008
Posts: 81
Re: Sign of the times?

You never know, Sam, there may come a time not so far away when your family may want to get out of Dodge, too.  And when that time comes, you will be able to lead them to a safe place with the knowledge you have gained here.  I mean, you can still do the occasional scouting for a safe haven, can't you?

Slemco stands for Southwest Louisiana Electric Membership Corporation (see slemco.com to see how a local electric company, as opposed to a big regional can be so very useful).  It is like a food co-op, except it's for energy.  I've come across quite a few over the years, such as Cleco, which stands for Central Louisiana Energy Co, but I think it is a for-profit as opposed to Slemco where as soon as you pay your minimal deposit, you are a member of the corporation and can actually vote for the board of directors.  From what I've heard, Slemco is rather exemplary as local or regional utilities go in that they are amazingly responsive to the needs of their members. I think anybody trying to find a safe haven should look into such things as utility providers.  If they are small and flexible and don't have stockholders, I'm willing to bet they are more amenable to alternative sources of electricity.

As I mentioned, after Gustav (hmmmm....or was it the one a few weeks before), I was hunkering down with friends in Crowley and was anxious to get home.  Everything in that town was still down.  As soon as the streets were clear enough to drive on, we rode out to my place and were absolutely astounded to see that electricity had been restored to my place (on the edge of the Slemco service area) but just across the road, it was still out because it was served by another (one of the machine-like biggie utilities, and trucks were having to drive in from other states like Illinois or Texas to help out because of sheer volume.  Utility repair folk from other states are often deployed days in advance of a hurricane and move with its projected landfall.  But they are dealing with very dense population areas and of course the usual communication snafus. And their priority seems to be commercial areas rather than homes.  Small rural utilities simply do not have to deal with the dense populations that the biggies do.  More density requires more wires or reconnections to the users.  One wire along LA Hwy 23 otoh is a snap fix with relatively few user connections and seems fairly quickly accomplished by the locals themselves.  Boss calls T-Bob and tells him to find Joe and Marie and go "fix up around the so-and-so rice fields today".  There's none of that bureaucratic planning and communication and ultra cumbersome paperwork.

That is certainly  not to say that all local utilities are great.  In New Orleans, we suffered for years with NOPSI (NO Public Service, Inc).  We t hought exactly the way I typed it here perfectly described it: "no public service")  There were many jokes about this but I never found it very funny because I was battling at the time to get back $5,000 they had overcharged me while I was a commuter.  One of the customer service people I spoke to actually told me that they "don't keep records".  When I asked to speak to the supervisor, he affirmed that any records of my account "were long gone"!  It only got worse from there, even when I got my attorney involved and then suddenly we were advised that NOPSI (which was probably cooking its books big time) had been purchased by Entergy.  Maybe Entergy's out of Houston?  But it has gobbled up a big chunk of small local utilities in the more densely populated areas.  And of course, they could find none of NOPSI's records.   But if one lives in a hugely rural area, Entergy is not interested in you and throws you as a crumb to the small locals which thankfully still exist. 

So, unfortunately, Entergy thought they could make money off the apartment house where I live because it is close to Jennings, a densely populated small town.  I think mine is the only building in my town to be serviced by Entergy rather than by Slemco.  But I may be being paranoid about that.  I don't look into it because I'm afraid it's really true and there's absolutely nothing to do about it.  (take out your phone bill or your electricity bill and just look at all the "taxation without representation" imposed by your very own public service commission).

The reason I cried when I found out I had to use Entergy is that while I can call up T-Bob at Slemco (who may actually answer the phone himself in their small Crowley sub-office), I could not even get through the stupid Entergy voice menu to get my service started since it required me to have a current account number to move forward in the menu!  Finally after two days trying everything under the sun, I got another tenant here to let me use his account # to be able to speak to a human and  get my service started.  Then I did not get a bill for about 4 months in spite of repeatedly calling and even seeing and talking to the meterman ("Well, I just don't have an order to read this meter").  And then they would charge me five bucks to pay it over the phone!  You must realize, I had never seen a bill!  So exactly how else was I going to pay it?? So I was literally forced in a way to build up a debt with them.

So that is my rant on big utility companies (don't get me started on ATT who recently gobbled up the wonderful Bellsouth and is even a worse horror story!).

The little ISP provider I mentioned has its home office in Crowley.  They used to sell walkie talkies, beepers and the like.  It is a family run operation and as I understand it, as the children grew up, they brought new interest and technology into the little company.  In the very rural areas of our country, as you may know, one lives in pain with dial-up, or some baby company like the one in Crowley tries to take advantage of the opportunity and fill the blazing but very small need of the few folks in, for instance, my town, with only probably 10 computers.  And this little business did it.  I ran across them in an even more rural area as a couple of them (one probably an officer on the board Wink)  were tacking up a plastic banner on the side of an old country store.  I leapt out of my truck and asked them if they were in my town.  They were.  They had tacked a transmitter  for hi speed on our little water tower, and the price $45 per month unlimited I find quite reasonable but it is the deposit on the Direct TV-like receiver that is beyond me.  "You would be basically renting the receiving equipment from us" he said reasonably.  And I understood it perfectly as Cox and the other cable and internet providers like that do the same thing. ::sigh::

But since I've lived in this baby town, I've been thinking more and more about these local yokel providers of vital services because I truly believe that the entire economy will become much more localized during and when shtf.  How can it not?  So here is this little local electric co-op in Crowley I can walk into and talk about things with real people.   Wow!  Radio waves!  Here is a little mom & pop I can walk into and actually talk to real people about what radio waves can do (an "old" technology).  Not, you understand that I actually will, but that I think that but for their existence, all will not be lost in the rural areas.  This is one of the reasons I do not like at all the "global" or even "national" labels or descriptions people tend to place on problems.  It makes the problems too big to solve, doesn't it? How can people actually see a problem in each of their particular local areas and even think of solutions if all problems are stated in such abstract, global terms.  I consider it our biggest problem in today's world.

Sam, from what the locals tell me, this town has not flooded in at least more that half a century.  It is to the west of the Achafalaya Basin (huge) where the marshlands on the Gulf of Mexico (which slow hurricanes) are actually growing rather than receding as they are in southeast LA (New Orleans area, where they is quickly disappearing).  The river my town rests beside  is a river that, while navigable, drains a very much smaller area than say the Mississippi (1/3 of the US) or the Achafalaya and so is not prone to flooding at all.  

Rosemary

 

 

 

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