Effects of these warm days (and nights) are showing up in a number of ways. Range grass is short, dry and brittle and the snowdrifts in the highest parts of mountain are quickly disappearing.
It often looks like you could run the entire flow of Clear Creek through an eight-inch culvert. The same is true for Rock Creek and every fork of the Powder River.
Irrigators on streams flowing from the mountains are being restricted as water for rights with later dates are being shut down.
Talk to any of the longtime residents and they will tell you the average daytime summer temperatures in this area have gone up.
Oh, yes, we always had a few days over 100 degrees, but not day after day of upper 80s and 90s.
One of the major topics of conversations around the village is the number of camper-trailers in the mountains. One of the tricks to securing a camping spot appears to involve buying cheap tents to set up and leave behind so the spot is secure for the next weekend. And people are camping in places most would never have considered in years past. Close to busy roads and on the tops of ridges.
We probably spend too much time talking about years-gone-by in Johnson County, but this week we were visiting with Kathy Duncan about how homes looked in Buffalo back then.
There was a time when nearly everyone had a garden in their backyard and most lawns were cut with reel mowers you had to push.
Many also had a small chicken house fenced in next to the alley to raise eggs and occasionally have the main course for Sunday dinner.
Those gardens were well kept and good sized for a reason. The produce not used in the summer was canned and put on shelves in the basement to be enjoyed throughout the winter.
Kathy says there is a favorite spot in Buffalo that she likes to drive by because the home seems to be almost like a Norman Rockwell painting of those earlier days.
“Jean and Alberta Escos’ home on South Tisdale is so much fun for me,” says Kathy. “And I make it a point to drive by every time I’m headed in that direction.
“They keep things so neat and the garden and yard look like a photo in one of those country living magazines.”
Jean and Alberta are special people . . . always there to help others and not expecting anything in return.
Greg Madison passed along some thoughts about people born in the 1930s and ’40s. It started the Bench Sitters on the subject. Among the comments about people born that long ago were —
— are the smallest number of children born since the early 1900s. We are the “last ones.”
— are the last generation, climbing out of the Depression, who can remember the impact of a world at war which rattled the structure of daily lives for years.
— are the last to remember ration books for everything from gas to sugar to shoes.
— are the last generation who spent childhood without television; instead, we imagined what we heard on the radio.
— had jobs or chores at home, and without TV and the internet they played outside . . . a lot.
— had no Little League or summer sports camps. Neighborhood kids played games like kick-the-can until the street lights came on as a signal to go home.
— looked forward to Saturdays for the matinee at the Bison Theater where popcorn cost a nickel and Sam Rosenthal made sure you kept your feet off the seat in front of you.
— had a telephone that hung on the wall and shared a party-line. If you wanted to call the doctor’s office you turned the crank and said “number two please” when Millie Fisher came on the line. She would usually ask . . . “is everything alright?” as she connected the line. Then Frannie Sackett would answer and tell you if Dr. W.J. or Dr. John were in the office.
— had hand-cranked calculators — the closest things to computers; we pounded away on manual typewriters and knew all about carbon paper.
— were excited about fair and rodeo week because a carnival would came to town with rides and games of ring-toss to make the quarters saved all summer quickly disappear.
— and as they grew older this generation realized they had grown up in the “best of times . . . the golden years.”
We hope this trip to the past has been a little bit of fun. The Bench Sitters will write again next week.