Gladys has a nice thing to say about March the month when spring begins in our part of the world.
As I write, sleet, mixed with snow and rain, beats against the window. But when I open the door and look out, I smell the clean, sweet air, and I hear the brook running down the hill, and I feel spring in my heart. March is a special gift from nature to restore and nourish the land, and without it roses would never bloom so beautifully in June.We've had a cloudy, rainy, cool spring with a few days of warmth and bright sunshine. Most people have complained, but for me it was the perfect weather for the flowers. Yes, things have been slow in coming, but the daffodils lasted over a month. I've never seen so many blooms on the crabapple and they didn't fade for ages. Every single tree and flower has looked spectacular. I hope to do a picture posting of all the beauty.
In the 1970s, Southbury Connecticut has changed from Gladys' earlier writings from the 1930s and 40s and 50s. It made me sad to read
Southbury is no longer a quiet country village as it was, and those of us who watch the death of a rural area feel heartbreak. The deep woods crash, marshes are flooded, sweet-running trout streams polluted. Factories encroach. Chain stores plan to move in. A turnpike slices the wild-flower meadows.
Sometimes I think progress is man's greatest enemy. But I am thankful my own woods and swamps and streams are still safe, and nobody at the moment can drain my pond and build a development there. It belongs to the wildlife and the children.I suppose all of us who grow older in a place we've lived in a long time see changes, and think about the future of our own land. I feel very lucky because our children love this place, and indeed Margaret and her family live on acres that used to be part of it. I can't imagine them ever tearing down the house or subdividing the land. It is part of them, it is "home" to them and to their children.
It warms my heart that one of Gladys' grandchildren writes often in the Friends of Gladys Taber publication about Stillmeadow. It really seems much the same as when she lived there. She would be so very pleased.
And Southbury itself still looks very lovely in some of the pictures shown on the web page, though I'm sure much bigger and busier.
Gladys has a many page diversion from nature and spring to talk about the census. It is quite shocking to read!
The folder said, "Why Your Family?'
Well, it seems I was chosen as one of 17,000 out of 63 million to be investigated by the Census Bureau. It's strictly confidential, I was assured, for the census bureau is airtight against snoopers.
... As a writer, I have been interviewed for years by reporters, radio MCs, and various clubwomen, and I have never objected, feeling that I have no secret life. ... But suddenly I began to wonder, and I did not want to fill out all those pages [30 or 40 of them!] about my way of living. We live in a climate of fear nowadays, second only to Communist countries. Newsmen go to jail rather than divulge the source of their special information. Houses are wired, telephones tapped, and the FBI has files on millions of names, innocent or not. The Watergate incident came to my mind. ...
Then we got to page one. Now the information wanted by the bureau is about clothing and linens, auto expenses and repairs, trips and vacations, utilities, fuels, household help, repairs to appliances, TVs, etc., home repairs and improvements, insurance, and a few other items.This is really personal stuff! I was shocked that the Bureau could request (well, it really wasn't a request, was it?) to know all this. It got me wondering if they still do this. I know there is news now about a government "request" to know if a household includes anyone who is not a citizen of this country. But do they also go in for all the minutiae of lives?
Poor Gladys. 74 years old and being asked all these things!
An hour and a half later I needed an ice pack on my head. Unfortunately, I did not know how old my toaster was, when I had last bought sheets and pillowcases, how old my car was (this never came out right since I bought the last one of a model the week before the new ones appeared). I had no records of when I bought my TV set (but it was black-and-white, which she wrote down). I remembered that my electric range was a little over a year old (just old enough so the warranty had run out when the timer blew).
Trips and vacations drew a blank, as I never take them. I confessed that I have only one typewriter, non-electric. And no humidifiers. I forgot my one old electric fan. I had not bought any new clothes or rented any. And I did not know how much I had spent on food. No hospital expenses. I said I needed a new sofa because the springs were sagging in mine but I did not remember when I bought it or when it was re-covered. ...
Books are evidently of no interest to the Census Bureau, and I must have several hundred at least, overflowing the bookshelves and stacked in piles in closets. Never mind. I had not bought a new coat this year. Or new shoes.The census woman was to come back twice more, and in the meantime Gladys was supposed to fill out more pages.
I began to wonder how much 17,000 of these elegant portfolios, complete with pad and pencil and glassy pockets, must cost our rich government and how much this investigation cost and how far that money would go for food for the poverty areas.And then she ends with some rather chilling words.
I do know in this age we are not expected to have or want any privacy, but I wonder if it isn't time for a change before we all become statistics fed into a computer?
I find this whole project more and more disturbing. At what point can a citizen of our great country have any privacy? Are we by any chance tending toward an era when the government will regulate our whole lives? I wonder if I were to say, "I do not wish to be in the census, thank you. Try my neighbor down the road" - would I make the FBI files?
I am too docile ever to know.Gladys then goes on to write of her cats, past and present, and the wild ones who live in the barn. This part was hard for me to read as our Raya died in March. She made her first appearance on the blog here. And there are more pictures under the "Cats and Dogs" label on the sidebar under "Letter Topics". We had her for 18 years. She had been a big cat but in the last years she lost so much weight and by the end was only about 5 pounds. She was the most loving and interesting and difficult of all our cats. She was the greeter when anyone came to visit. She loved people. And she loved the grandchildren from the very beginning. Here she is with 7-month-old Hazel.
As for the difficult part - well, she was unstoppable. She stretched on and under every single chair. If she wanted my attention for some reason, she would just go over and begin stretching. She chewed on every plant. But, my goodness I miss her.
I used to tell her that she had to live until 2019 so I could say that Tom and I had had 50 years of cats, and she did. Tom doesn't want another cat, and I understand his reasons though I do ache for the presence of a kitty. But what I really ache for is my Raya. Gladys Taber would certainly understand.