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Column: You don’t have iPod in your SUV? Well, that’s all right

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Oct. 2, 2004.

WORTHINGTON — Lately I was reading in one of those advice columns that we do not have to accept or buy every innovation that comes along. Maybe whatever comes along is something we really do not need. Or — maybe — it is something we just don’t like. That’s all right, the column said.

You don’t have a computer, you don’t want a computer? That’s all right.

My Uncle Ed Foley lived at Melvin, Iowa. Uncle Ed never had a car. Toward the end, I suppose there were people who thought that was strange. I never thought so. I thought Uncle Ed was special. He kept a team of horses for about as long as that was allowed. After that, he walked.

Well, he could walk to nearly anything at Melvin without tiring himself, but he lived right across a street from the school, a short distance from the football field and a short distance from the old baseball park. His business — a harness shop, for about as long as that was allowed — was right in the downtown. Why would he want a car?

I would like to say Ed was early in recognizing the woe that would come from millions of gas engines pumping fumes into the air through all hours of all days through all the earth through decades. That is not true. In fact, for years after the harness shop closed, Uncle Ed drove a school bus. He knew how to drive. He just didn’t want a car.

My grandma and grandpa, Mary and Fred Bultmann, had a wind-up phonograph, but Grandpa didn’t like it and, left to himself, he never would have got it.

I think Grandpa didn’t like the phonograph because he liked to visit, and it is not possible to visit and listen to John Philip Sousa and the U.S Marine Band at the same time.

Grandpa liked to sit on a bench on the front lawn of the old Nobles County Courthouse and watch the passing scene on 10th Street. He sat with his cronies and they visited all day long. I know they never went to coffee, never went to a restaurant. They just talked. I don’t know what they talked about. I never stopped even one time to listen. They kept watch on the sun and, when the sun beamed on them, they moved their benches into the shade once again. In the winter, they would go to trials and spend days in the courtroom.

If you wonder where I am going just now, I am going into a subject by the backdoor.

I was reading about Douglas County, Oregon, which touches on the Pacific Ocean. During the Douglas County Fair this summer, “Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday, 1,300 telephone calls came into the fairgrounds switchboard. … On Wednesday, the call volume was about the same. About 1,200 calls came in during the same six-hour period. ‘That’s about 200 calls an hour. I was just blown away when I heard that,’ Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips said.”

That just about blows me away, too. This is cell phones, do you see? People outside needed to call someone on the fairgrounds. I am sure that fully as many people on the fairgrounds found it necessary to call someone who was outside. I see cell phones everywhere, everyday, of course. So do you. A man called from Hy-Vee to ask whether he should get Sunshine Krispy Saltines or Zesta Saltines. A woman called from McDonald’s to report she had her burger and she was sitting down. Well — time for confession. I don’t have a cell phone. I don’t think I will get a cell phone. The advice column I read said this is all right. There is just too much of Grandpa and Uncle Ed in me. I can’t help it. You think Grandpa would like a cell — because he could visit? Not true. I know. Grandpa wouldn’t answer the phone. Grandma did that. Visiting is sitting down with someone. Visiting is a kind of ceremony, maybe even a bit sacred sometimes. No. I come out of a heritage that just can’t want to carry a telephone.

That’s part of it. The other part is — I already know what the first call would be:

“Hi Ray! This is ol’ Jerry! I am calling for the Minnesota Police Officers Help the Starving Kids and Disabled Veterans Foundation — I know I can count on you for 20 bucks.”

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