Friday, April 04, 2008

From Oil Lamps to the Internet, or About turning 75 by Walt Barrett

Part one.
I want to give you a little background of why I think the way I think. I always say that if you want to see the future all you have to do is look back. I’m sure that my views will not win me many friends in those circles that swirl around up there in the rarified atmosphere of the wealthy.
I was born in hard times. It was 1933 when we were pretty deep into the great depression. My first memories go back to some time in 1936, and they are vague for that year. But since 1937 I remember a great deal from then on. My parents had bought a piece of property in the country on a lake with future plans for a home they could own. They had paid fifty dollars for the land. By 1932 they had the basic shell of what I would now call a micro home constructed and it was 480 square feet with a loft that you could barely stand up in. There was a front and rear door with one window on each outside wall. Yes, I grew up in a micro home! Right about then my Dad lost his Job in the textile mill just like everyone else around here did. That’s when they had to give up their nice little apartment in the city and moved into the partially finished home in the country. There was no power, electricity, water, heat, or sewer. I lived there with them until I left for the Korean war at age 18. Now those were interesting times, and I’m sure at this point that you can see where I am going with this.
My Dad and most of his World War One buddies blamed the whole mess on the Republican President Herbert Hoover, and big business. They immediately became life long democrats. Franklin Roosevelt became the new messiah and ushered in a whole new era for better or for worse. One of the differences between then and now was that there was plenty of fuel to heat your home and plenty of gasoline and electricity too. The problem was that we could not afford any of it.
Now you might think that I would be really bitter about my past, and sometimes I get a twinge or two, but it’s mostly sadness when I think of how hard my parents worked, the sacrifices they made for me, and the many times they suffered during those hard times. Then there is my guilt for not really being old enough to be of any real help to them. I did manage to start working in a mill in 1947 though and give them all the money I made. I did learn a lot about life in those days, and how to scrape by with literally nothing.

One of the saddest things that happened to my parents during the depression was at the death of my grandmother Barrett in 1929, my Dad's older brother Arthur, A real bum if there ever was one, Collected what little insurance money there was, and took off for Staten island, New York, and started a new life for himself and his soon to be new family, leaving my Parents to pay for all the hospital bills, the funeral, and her debts. It took them until 1950 to pay them off. My parents would have rather died than leave a bill unpaid. It really altered all of our lives.
Now at this time in early 2008 things are only just a little different. We are running out of fuel and the prices are going out of site! We are in another big mess that we are going to really have to fight our way out of. We are not dirt poor like we used to be,but the numbers of poor are growing rapidly. The problems facing us now are a mighty big challenge,and ignoring them like congress has for the past thirty-five years is not going to make them go away, but let’s continue on with a little more background. In 1950 while still in high school I became obsessed with solar energy. Not many people were interested in Solar at that time, but there was a scientist in Israel that was doing a lot of work in the field. I had spent most of my time up until then freezing to death in the cold winters of New England because our home never had central heat. So I started to read everything I could get my hands on at the time. I never lost interest and have continued to learn as much as I can on the subject. In 1973 I started a very successful solar heating and hot water system manufacturing operation,and we did quite well for several years until that great American President Ronald Regan tore down the solar system from the White House, gutted the funding for the solar programs and destroyed the solar industry. The really sad part of the problem is that those sorry bastards in congress went along for the ride! They have had thirty-five years to solve the energy problem and have barely lifted a finger while many of us have been screaming from the peanut gallery! For thirty-five years they have pandered to Big Oil,Big Coal,Big Gas,and Big Nuke. They literally sold us out! I’m not making this up. All you have to do is look back at the facts and the record! Oh well, like the trite old saying goes, "It’s too late to cry over spilt milk." Next time I’ll express my ideas on how we survive this mess our government created with the help of our own wasteful practices. We have to wrap our heads around these problems now! You can't depend on the government to solve your problems. You have to solve them yourself. That's what made this country great!
To be continued


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

really good - interesting and it makes a person think about life.
thanks for sharing.