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Before Facebook and e-mail, there was a man with a glass eye

August 15, 2010|By LLOYD "PETE" WATERS

"Pony" Gay was an old man who lived on the back road of Dargan in a small trailer no bigger than a modern-day truck. He often would walk up the road and take a path through the woods to my grandmother's house, where he would stop for a visit. My grandmother Gen would offer him a cup of coffee and a slice of pie or cake.

As a young boy, I was not very fond of Pony Gay.

While he was having his coffee and dessert, I usually would hang out for a piece of homemade pie or cake myself.

Pony then would very carefully and gradually remove his glass eye and lay it on the table near my pie plate.

The first time he did it, it nearly scared me to death. I didn't even know he had a glass eye.

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He would chuckle and laugh as he sipped his coffee and watched me as I scooted from the table.

Pony performed his trick pretty regularly when he stopped to visit. Then one day, I'd had enough.

As he put his glass eye on the table, I slowly and deliberately removed it, put it in my marble sack and replaced it with my favorite "cat's eye" marble.

To his great chagrin, he immediately noticed the difference when he picked up the cat's eye marble and begin complaining to my grandmother, who made me give his glass eye back and scolded me for my little prank.

It was the last time Pony Gay ever removed his glass eye at my grandmother's house.

Growing up in those days was something very special to me.

It seemed like our technical advances back then were a little slower and life was much simpler and filled with many personal encounters, such as the man with the glass eye.

Socializing with neighbors and visits to each other's homes were things you did every day.

No shortcuts with cell phones, text messages, MySpace or Twitter to occupy your time. No Facebook accounts or e-mail addresses to remember. Just simple visits.

I still appreciate the many lessons of life that were provided to me during that time. I've been blessed to live in such a great era.

The neighborhood always was filled with various activities.

On a late-night weekend, some would gather for a simple card game and dine on homemade chicken soup.

Families also would traverse to each other's houses for the old-time butcherings in the wintertime.

People seemed like they always had a concern for the sick or those who needed help.

When one of the neighbors died, the deceased would be laid out in the finest threads in their home living room for three days and nights while awaiting burial in the local cemetery.

The entire Dargan community would bring foodstuffs to the deceased's house and visit with the close relatives while offering their condolences and sympathy.

It was a special custom of supporting each other during a very sad and difficult time.

When school was out for the summer, all of the kids back in the day would go to the school ground and would play ball until dark and we were all exhausted.

No video games, just a good old ball game filled with a lot of physical activity to occupy our youth.

Today, I rarely see anyone on that same Dargan school ground. Kids are occupied in other ways.

I can see a lot of benefits to our technical advances, but many of those other important lessons of a bygone society have all but disappeared.

The world, for sure, is a different place. Even Dargan has a Facebook account. Can you believe it?

We will most likely survive and benefit from most of these achievements. It's called progress, right?

But for me, I am already beginning to miss those days when people had time to enjoy the simple company of each other.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail

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