No. 251



There is no way I can tell you the joy that comes to me from hearing from you readers all across the country. The other day I counted up and have heard from readers in 32 different states. Thank you so very much! Keep em coming and also take a moment to let your publisher and editor know that you read and enjoy my column. They wont know unless you tell them.

And speaking of editors, Ive gotten to know some really fine men and women in this position over the past several years and during our visit today I would like to tell you about one of them. Jim Hamilton is the Publisher/Editor of The Buffalo Reflex, a 130 year old weekly newspaper in Dallas County, Missouri. Jim is truly a gifted writer and he has published a number of his columns in a book titled, River Of Used To Be.

After several phone calls I finally convinced him to send me a copy and it was a pure delight to read. As you may know, Buffalo is in the Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri and many of his columns deal with a time when life was much simpler and people took time to visit each other, take walks in the fields and woods and do those things that many people still do in the smaller communities all across America. The Ozark Mountain people also have a special spirit of independence and a rich and diverse culture.

Each chapter in the book was one of Jims columns and it was so moving and interesting that I could hardly put it down. It was interesting not only because of what he had to say, but he also has that unique gift of expressing his thoughts that is really a God given talent. When I finished the book and looked at the somewhat drab two-color cover, I had the thought; if ever there was a case of diamonds in a paper bag -- this was it.

At this point I want to focus on one chapter titled, Sidewalks and Porches because it truly epitomizes the River Of Used To Be. In the early days before everybody had a car, in most communities, you would find sidewalks and practically every house had a front porch. The residents would sit out in the swing and chat with friends and neighbors as they walked by. They all knew each other and they connected in a way that is seldom seen today. They knew the needs, problems and what was going on in their life. But more importantly they cared and when a child got sick or in trouble, a neighbor was there to help them.

As I was walking the other morning in the older part of our community I got to thinking about Jims book and began looking for sidewalks and front porches. I found many of both but one sidewalk in particular had a giant oak tree growing right through the middle of it, which told me it had been there a long, long time. Then later as I drove out to the newer, more upscale part of town there were no sidewalks, only driveways and garage doors. The front porches, for the most part, were gone too.

These days when a man or his wife approaches the house they activate the garage door opener, go inside and the door closes behind them. If they go outside, its usually to a back yard with a privacy fence. Like I say, we dont connect like we use to. Here is an idea that may be worth thinking about. Why not build sidewalks in the new subdivisions and call them WALKING TRAILS. If you would like to have a copy of River Of Used To Be contact Jim Hamilton at P.O. Box 770, Buffalo, MO 65622. The cost is very reasonable and as always, I have no financial interest in endorsing this book. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)