I grew up on a badland farm/ranch, west of Tuscola, in Taylor County Texas, at the tail end of the Depression’s effects on that part of the country. Tuscola was a very small farming community.
What I remember most about Tuscola is the feeling of community, of belonging to and being a part of something bigger than myself. Of course, I had no idea what it was. I just knew that I felt secure in the fact that everyone took care of everyone else and I felt sure that I would be taken care of too.
Within hours of someone dying or having a baby or going to the hospital, the entire county knew about it. If you had a death in the family, or serious illness, particularly of the homemaker of the family, people magically showed up at your door, as if on cue, with fully cooked meals for the family, along with offers of help.
You might say that Tuscola was one of those places where everybody knew everybody else and what they were doing. The only reason they read the newspaper was to see who got caught at it. Still, it was a wonderful, magical place and time in which to live and to grow up.
I’m not sure when that feeling of community began to gradually fade, but, World War II tore up and sidetracked so many people and so many families, that, when it was over, I guess people were so preoccupied with putting their lives back together that they forgot about the other fellow and the community. That and the burgeoning urban development that followed the war, I think, were key players in the partial demise of the community involvement spirit.
I know that I vaguely sensed an unexplained loss when, some time after the war, we moved way up north to Abilene, which was, as I remember, a long way from Tuscola and home. In reality it was only 18 miles. Becoming involved in school and other activities, the sense of loss diminished, or maybe I just buried it.
It was not until some years later that I was able to put a name to those feelings and start to realize what happened. Unfortunately we lost, as a result of the war, not only our country’s virginity, but most of that sense of community, of being a part of it all. Fortunately, it still lives, though to a lesser extent, across the country.
A lot of it still abides in Cobb County. I see evidence of it almost daily. It is particularly evident during the many holidays we observe. A host of churches, civic groups, service organizations, private businesses and others do a wonderful job of reaching out to the community and the less fortunate, during those times.
For those not part of any of these groups, but still wanting to contribute, there are literally dozens upon dozens of organizations begging for help; needing not your dollars so much as your hands-on time.
* Special Olympics, devoted to making life more enjoyable for special needs kids, is in constant need of volunteers to assist in their programs.
* The Cobb Animal Shelter is always in need of volunteers, if only for a few hours a week. They need help cleaning cages, feeding, watering and walking the animals.
* MUST Ministries is another of those organizations devoted to service to the less fortunate. They can always use help.
* Volunteer to help coach a kids’ sports team, or just help drive the kids to the games.
* Work with a Scout troop.
* Give up a couple of hours a week to read to people in facilities that care for the elderly and the infirm. Write letters for them, or just sit and talk with them.
* Spend a day at the airport, working with the USO.
* Volunteer at the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or other similar organizations.
There are all sorts of avenues available by which we can give back to the community and it is all marvelous and rewarding work.
If we don’t help when we can, there may not be anyone there when we call for help.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.