The recent fire in an Amish establishment brought back memories of how it was a long time ago. The Amish don’t believe in insurance, but they do believe in helping each other. I noticed a bundle of buggies there the next day and within another day or two you could not tell there ever was a fire. The men worked, the ladies cooked, the children ran errands and thing got done. It was much like it used to be when my father was a youngster. There was no Social Security; you retired if you could when you were unable to work at all. If you had been able to keep some type of income for your old age, fine; if not, either your children other family members hopefully would take care of you or your out on your own. They did not have unemployment insurance of any kind. Again, you went on the dole or got a new job fast. Family was deep and close; going on the dole was something neither the family nor person cared to happen. But if needed it was usually there.
If you got hurt on the job in most instances you were once again on your own or your families own. If the bread winner died or was incapacitated again you looked for help, but not from the government. Franklin Roosevelt brought a lot of what we look at today and feel it has always been there but it hasn’t. No Medicare or Medicaid. No unemployment. In reality, not much of anything. Today these things are taken for granted and at times, as is the case in most thing we are involved in, are misused. They were originally enacted to help the country and its population to manage to live a good life, one that was going to have something at least from the federal government to retire on.
Some larger industries and businesses did have a retirement plan of sorts. They would give you so much a month for your remaining days if you worked for them say 50 years or so. There was no guarantee that if the industry or business went out of business that your retirement would continue. This was the Social Security of my day. I feel that many business entities today do not have anything like a retirement for their employees. They have 401-K’s and other ways to make money for retirement but seldom do they themselves guarantee what you will or will not get. When I started my work life it was with Sears & Roebuck and at that time they were huge in retailing. One of the custodians retired soon after I was hired on from college and he told me he got a monthly check from Sears that was the interest on his $350,000 in retirement account. And at the time that seemed to me to be a fortune, not so today.
Some accounts in federally regulated banks are insured by the government and the banks today. Earlier on they were not; if the bank went belly up so did your money. Your checking and savings and much else went along with the bankrupt bank. You usually would still owe someone your home mortgage or loan you had taken out from the bank but you still had that obligation. In reality, we today have so many more ways for us to exist than in my father’s youth it is quite amazing. Churches and other charity organizations were the only things many could count on other than their neighbor’s consideration and help.
Many farmers would help out if a neighbor was hurt or had an accident. They still do this today and I personally feel that is what makes us what we are. Others would come to help if you had a barn burn. Everyone would come out, much like the Amish of today, and within a few days at most you were back in business. Everyone felt good about it and knew that if they needed help it would be forthcoming. Today, we look to insurance and other means to do what was ours earlier on. We seem to have lost the closeness of family and friends and let it go to someone on the outside. In fact I personally feel that the lost of the cohesion of the family is what is the great problem we are facing today.
The family was the basis for life way back when. You just did not do anything that would hurt the family. If you needed help the family was there and you knew it. My grandfather and grandmother basically were living on the boys when they got to the age of being unable to work. Grandpa Ward worked well into his 80s, falling out of the barn at 82. He took a couple of days off and then back to work. Grandpa passed away at 96 and my father at 92; both sides of grandparents lived well into their 80s. Family was the one thing that I feel held society together back then and we are missing that today. We talk about the good old days and many laugh at us for doing so. But let me tell you, in many instances it was indeed the good old days and we today could use a dose of what those intrepid individuals had.