Another year goes by, and still, we deal with pollution and worse in the world. What will the state of things be 2 or 3 generations from now (not daring to think any further). I like to watch old westerns. Have you ever noticed that when the folks in the old west had something to discard (a cigarette butt, a wanted poster, a letter from …anyone) it was just tossed into the street? A street was, by today’s standards, quite tidy (considering the horses and what they left behind), at least in the TV shows. I know that, in some places (the bigger cities, for example), there were street sweepers (people, not machines) whose job it was to sweep up the manure. It was a non-stop job. Didn’t pay well, but steady work. I would guess that the cigarette butts, dodgers, and letters from their gold seeking loved ones, off in California, Nevada, the Dakotas, Alaska, were all swept up by those whose job it was to remove such refuse. I can’t help but notice that the streets near where I live do not have a 24/7 street sweeper. Not even an 8/5 sweeper.
Thinking back to small towns, those who have sidewalks in front of their
establishments are expected to clean up the area, even if the property is
public (remember The Andy Griffith Show where Floyd is often found
sweeping in front of the barber shop, as is the person with the mercantile,
etc.). When was the last time you were in a town or village and saw such
activity going on? I can count on no hands how many I’ve seen folks thusly engaged in
the past, ah, my whole life. Yes, at times I’ve seen a street sweeper (large
vehicle with worn out brushes turning and allegedly sweeping the refuse into an
on-board bin) . . . and I’ve seen the trail, after they recently passed by, evident by the
thin line of dirt and small items – cigarette butts, bottle caps, candy
wrappers – that weren’t big enough to get swept up in the activity.
When folks pine for the good ol’ days, maybe part of that is
remembering times when the air smelled cleaner and the streets were swept
(though some of the residue from the sweepers trying to keep up with the horses
may not be as sweet-smelling). Maybe someday, instead of no longer “needing”
the song I have selected for today, it will be more true to life than not. I
hope that won’t be the case.
This piece (yup, by Tom Paxton), “Whose Garden was This?,”
was written for the promotion of the first Earth Day (1970). I’m honored to say
I was in that crowd, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and
heard its debut. It was expanded some over the years (see second link), but the message remains
the same: If we don’t do something, then it will be our epitaph. Sadly, he is
still feeling it necessary to perform this frequently.
The buttons here are from that first Earth Day promotion and have remained in my collection. Perhaps, someday, they will no longer be true, and then valued only for their antique status.
“Whose Garden?” – 2016 (with an addition to the 2nd
Your turn. Any songs about the earth, the gardens, the skies . . . you know, the things we (hopefully) value?