Reflections on the Past

Posted 6/16/19

In recent weeks I have reflected on the past as I remember it over my eighty years of life. These eighty years have seen more advancement than any other era in history. I watch television programs …

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Reflections on the Past

Posted

In recent weeks I have reflected on the past as I remember it over my eighty years of life. These eighty years have seen more advancement than any other era in history. I watch television programs now that takes me to places that only books could do when I was young. The mental pictures that I made of places then have now been replaced by real scenes which accurately depicts the subjects. I have also been privileged to see many of the places in person which would have been almost impossible eighty years ago before airplanes made the world a much smaller place.

I recall that when I would read stories like Frankenstein in the forbidden land of Transylvania I would have wild imaginations of a place of horror. I now have a much different picture of the place which is quite the opposite of the former. I make frequent trips to Romania doing medical missions and have been able to see much of the country. On an excursion to Transylvania I spent the night in Hotel Transylvania and toured the castle and torture chamber that inspired the story that I read when I was young. Yes, you guessed it, my mental pictures made by reading the book and the actual pictures I made while I was there are quite different. Transylvania is quite a pleasant place to visit, excluding the torture chamber, in a peaceful environment. I mention this because I am not quite sure as to which image I want to embrace. Those childhood memories conjures up excitement and intrigue while the actual pictures of the place left not much for me to be excited about.  O.K., now I know what the real place looks like and nothing is left to the imagination, but I kinda like the old mental picture of a place of horror which was to avoided.  

Of course, the opposite can be said about any particular place. I have been to places where I thought would be a paradise which turned out to be disappointing. One place in particular was Paris, France where I have been two times, but have no desire to return. I was eager to see all the spectacular sights, and I did, which was amazing. When Notre Dame burned I could envision the cathedral as it appeared when I toured it.. I took pictures from the top of the Eiffel Tower. But the people there, to me, were disappointing.  Traveling throughout Europe I met people who were friendly and open to being helpful if needed. Many were eager to exchange a few words with English speakers. Not so in Paris. From the time I got off the train which I had boarded in Brussels, Belgium, which was a very friendly place, I was disappointed. When my bag was unloaded from the train and I reached to pick it up a porter grabbed it and refused to let me carry it although I was perfectly capable of carrying it for the short distant that I needed to go. When he started to put it down I handed him money and he demanded more before he would release it. Not a good start! It didn't get any better. In most of Europe I was a welcomed visitor.  In Paris I was an unwanted  stranger. I will hold on to my word pictures of the city, without the people, as I like them better!

A similar thing happened to me in Egypt at the pyramids, regarding a camera. I was riding a camel and the man leading it motioned to me that he would take my picture on the camel. After doing so he demanded ten more dollars before he would give my camera back although I had already paid for the ride. In Bethlehem I gave a street vender (there are hundreds) a twenty dollar bill for a ten dollar item (postcards). He handed me back a ten dollar bill and when I looked at it, it was obviously counterfeit. I just went to the next vendor, gave him the counterfeit bill, and got another item (jewelry). In Turkey I was given change for the Euro in Turkish currency which was a fraction of what I should have received had I known the difference. On the Mount of Olives, on all three of my visits there, I was cautioned to be aware of pickpockets. On one visit I saw three boys running with what appeared to be a woman's purse which I supposed to have been stolen. I have learned that this is not a perfect world. I will share my mental word pictures of the pyramids, without the camel, and the Bible camera pictures I made of the Mount of Olives, without the thieves, with the real ones, and I will have a full album. It is not a perfect world, but it is magnificent!          

Why am I relating all this information? Let's go back eighty years when I was a child growing up on a dead end road in Walker County, Alabama. That big world out there, to me, existed only in books and stories from a war being fought “across the sea.” Some of our family and friend left to go fight there, some never to return. The war was won and the surviving solders returned to continue with their lives in a country still free from oppression. A lot has changed since that time. Air travel is common place and the whole world is accessible in a relatively short period of time. Now imaginary pictures from books take a back seat to a much smaller world where digital cameras rule. Prosperity has made travel more accessible to the common person. There is little time to sit and read now and there are too many distraction to make reading practical for many, especially the young. Is this good or bad? I suppose it depends on where our interest lies. Considering the lack of interest in many of our young regarding anything that requires reading, it is of uncertain as to what the next eighty years might bring for the future of written material.

NOTE: I am still collecting information on the early schools of Walker County and I will be contacting individuals who have let me know that they can provide me with information.

Contact Wheeler Pounds at 3424 Kings Mill Rd, Oakman, AL 35579, or at wheelerpounds@gmail.com.