[In honor of the second anniversary of his Celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting a number of his own favorite articles from the past two years.]
“TELL ME AGAIN about the old days, grandmother,” said the sweet little girl sitting by the fire.
“Well,” her grandmother began, her eyes misting over with nostalgia, “we didn’t have trees or any of these modern conveniences. When we wanted wood, we had to make it ourselves. I remember the day old Mitch from down at the mill told your great-grandpappy that there was a new kind of plant that grew wood in its stem, and all you had to do was take it if you wanted it. Pappy laughed himself sick. That was how he died, in fact.
“We had to walk fifteen miles in the snow just to get to school, and then when we got there we had to turn around and walk right back, because schools hadn’t been invented yet.
“The sun didn’t start automatically every morning the way it does now. Pappy had to turn a crank, and some mornings it took forever to get it started. Those were cold mornings, but all we could do was shiver until Pappy got the sun started, because of course no one had thought of blankets in those days.
“The moon was a bit smaller then, and more rectangular. There weren’t nearly as many stars, but then we lived in a poor neighborhood. We didn’t know we were poor, though, because poverty wasn’t discovered till I was eighteen years old. I remember that day, and how cheated we all felt when we finally found out we were poor.
“We didn’t have opposable thumbs back then, either. When we wanted to pick something up, we had to use our toes, so of course we fell down a lot. We couldn’t hold cups, so we had to drink everything through a straw, even hot water, which we couldn’t make into tea or coffee because no one had thought of those things.
“People didn’t live very long in those days, either. The average lifespan was about twenty-one. I myself died when I was nineteen, but I didn’t like it and gave it up after a while. Most people died of starvation, because food hadn’t been invented yet, and the only time we ate anything was when something accidentally fell into our mouths.”
“Goodness, grandmother,” said the little girl, “aren’t you glad you lived to see our modern world, with all its wonderful inventions?”
“Well, I’m not so sure I am,” the kindly old lady replied. “We had to work hard in the old days, but that made us tough. We didn’t have time for dilly-dallying with fripperies like shoes and elbows. I forgot to mention that elbows hadn’t been invented yet, either, so we had to hold our arms straight out like this. But we didn’t complain, because complaining hadn’t been invented yet, either. No, those were the good old days.”