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by Frank Shortt
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The first invention that had an effect on me was when I encountered radio. It brought the Grand Ole Opry in, not with the greatest clarity, but, nonetheless, we could hear Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, and other well-known musicians of that time in the 1940's. What thrilled me most was when we were able to tune in the Cowboy shows on Saturday and Sunday night. There was Gunsmoke, with William Conrad as Matt Dillon, Have Gun Will Travel with Mr. John Dehner, Lone Ranger, with Brace Beemer, The Six Shooter, with Jimmy Stewart as Britt Ponsett, and a host of others such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Rex Allen.
Then, along came Television! The Shortt children aggravated Mr. Howard Pruitt to no end as we glared at the screen, even to the end as it signed off. Sometimes we even went so far as spending the night with the Pruitt family and having breakfast with them! (We felt like family to them!) We also spent many hours in the little country store of Mr. Irby Altizer as Jimmy Wakely Theater showed on Saturdays and Boston Blackie showed on Saturday night! Poor Mr. Altizer couldn't even sell us a coke and peanuts as we had no money whatsoever!
One invention that had a great effect on me, as well as my brother Wendell, was the gasoline driven portable chain saw. Heretofore, we were able to saw mining timbers for the local miners with a two-man crosscut saw (Boys in this instant). We could usually saw about a hundred timbers each day, at 10cents each, and this would buy our shoes and clothing for the next school year. Sometimes there would be enough left over for a movie or two at the Raven Theater at Raven, Virgiaia. Alas, one morning we began hearing a buzz of which we had never had on our property! We thought, "what in the world could that be?" Was it some strange, huge insect that was let loose on our area? We soon gained the courage to go and check it out! As we approached the area of the noise, there stood John Rose, a relative by marriage, with a contraption, that could cut in half an hour, what it had taken Wendell and I a whole day to cut down the tree, saw the timbers in length, split the larger ones, and stack them in neat stacks ready for the miners to use. This was happening on my dad's property! Boy, were we taken aback! No more shoes, no more clothing, no more movies at Raven! What were we to do?
Boys are resourceful, we began digging ginseng, may-apple, yellow root, (Golden Seal) and any other herb that we thought would bring in a few cents! Too bad the man who bought all the herbs in our region was not as truthful with us as he could have been! We might have made enough to go to the movies a couple of times!
Ah, the computer! When I first encountered one I had heard so many wild and fantastic things about this invention that I was almost fearful to touch one! I just knew, if I hit the wrong button, the whole house would crumple down around me. We had a computer, but no one to really teach us the ways and means of operating one. At first, all I could do was to use it for a word processor. I became pretty astute with that phase, and desired to be able to go on to research, email, and all the other things a person can do with this marvelous invention! Today, by the grace of God, I have progressed greatly in the use of it.
The thing that we all have not quite grasped is that inventions were made for man, not man was made for the invention! There are those who have taken each thing offered to the unth degree! Wonderfully-minded men have become slaves to video games! Some have used the computer to gamble, depriving their families of needed food, clothing, and all other necessities we think we need! Some are slaves to sports! Some to outrageous movies on television! It is easy for any of us to be lured into spending too much time at any invention. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all just be moderate in our actions and our thinking toward all the things that have been afforded for our convenience?