Wednesday, March 18, 2009


And I thought that the 80's was the "me" generation. In my perspective, it has now run rampant into the 21st century.

Nowadays, everyone has those two white wires festooned on the front of their necks indicating that they have no good reason to speak to you. None. And if you speak to them, chances are good that you won't get through because they are listening to the latest songs by Miley, Madonna or Mozart. Either way, you're not getting through. And if the volumes are up at a certain level, they'll still ignore you when you speak to them when they're in their 60's because they will be deaf. That's right, deaf.

So is Bob gone off his rocker by attacking the good people at Apple? No.

As you know, it is my habit to wax sometimes rhapsodic about my days in Smock, when no one had a computer, an I-Pod, an ELECTRONIC picture frame, or hardly a television. Sure, you can go back to my older posts and read Outside Influences and Bob Rides the Bus and you'll find mention of this, but I want to go into a bit greater detail here.

In Smock, even today, we speak to one another. Whether it is across the porch railing, the clothesline, the hedge fence, or even through the rather thin wooden walls of the outhouse (which is pretty extinct by now). We spoke of politics or how NASA is goofing up the weather (not global warming) by shooting those rockets into space that are somehow messing with the clouds. We spoke of ourselves and yes, we often spoke of others, not necessarily in glowing terms. But we SPOKE. I remember that many of us used that bus ride to New Salem or Haddonville or Uniontown to catch up on talk. With not even a 6-transistor Philco radio in sight. We did not have computers which would hog our attention away from the dinner table or even the church. There isn't a Sunday where I attend church that someone isn't texting someone else at any given time in the Mass.

So what truly is it that we lose here? Our ability to communicate with others. Is that important? ASK YOUR PARENTS that question. The reason that they're celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary is because they talk to each other. Oh, you may not see it; it may be confined to the bedroom or to other secret places like the basement where YOU won't hear. Or maybe it's in Croatian or Slovak or Polish so you can hear but you don't understand. But they talked.

Today's electronic world is a good one. One that enables people like me to freely express my opinion in a medium that sends not just the printed word but pictures too over what appears to be vapor to another computer so that you can read this. Some have actually complained about my musings but it's their right, even though they may be wrong.

I think that a pair of ear plugs is pretty obvious. It's like closing all others off. Like closing the door to your bedroom. But now, they're closing the door on a lot of polite society who don't wish to do anything more than to talk about the WEATHER. But that's boring. Unfortunately, our teenagers today have the attention span of a may fly. Is it our fault? Maybe.

The Mormons aren't all crazy. And believe me, they will say the same thing about us non-LDS folk too. One of the things I learned about this group of people is that they dedicate an evening each week to ......wait for it........EACH OTHER. Family Home Evening. One of the most sensible things that has ever been thought up by ANYONE. Imagine if you will, telling young Nichole or Josh that he or she has to lose the I-Pod or the computer or the God of today's society, the cell phone, for a couple hours a week. I'm afraid that many would simply rather choose death.

Sure, talk about Smock all you like. We may be backward a bit, or maybe we're a bunch of Hunkys, or hillbillies, but we talk to each other and the divorce rate was almost non-existent. So if you take a ride through my little town even today and you see John Hovanic out in his yard trimming his hedges or fruit trees, stop by and witness something amazing.

He will actually talk to you. And if its August, he'll offer you something from his garden. Tell him I said "Hello" because John doesn't text. Or e-mail.

And the only wires he may have hanging over his shoulder will be used to tie up tomato plants.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The "Hunky" Gene

When I was a kid in Smock, the "town" kids in Uniontown used to call us "Hunkys". Wikipedia defines "hunky" as a derogatory term for immigrants of Hungarian, Slovak, or generally middle-European people. BUT, it also defines the term as "beefcake" or a person who is a "hunk". Nice. And the term is LOCAL. It is used primarily in Western Pennsylvania or Western New York.

So what is the "hunky" culture? It is a way of life developed by our ancestors to express freedom of religion and the regaining of their personal freedoms which were taken away in the "old country". And we could not accurately describe the "hunky" culture without mentioning food. (See "The Food Article" elsewhere in this blog.)

Hunkys settled into mostly industrial areas because they weren't afraid of work. Hard, back breaking work found in places like coal mines and steel mills. And the dedication of those Hunky workers was phenomenal. I actually know of a coal miner who stood in cold water at work for so long that he had to have both legs amputated below the knees because of the destruction of his blood vessels. He was fitted with two artificial limbs and promptlywent back to work in the mine. That's Hunky style, my friend. A little crazy, but there was no welfare or pity for these men and women.

Sometime in the 1960's, I started to hear the term "Hunky style" used to describe polkas that were....well....hunky style. You'll just have to go to YouTube and find some and take a listen.

Hunky men loved many things. Guns, beer, Hunky food, trucks, deer hunting and Hunky music, just to name a few. The Hunky women loved pretty much the same stuff. And Hunky people in general loved (here, you should fill in the blank) and most everything and everyone.

OK, before some narrow-minded self important outsider starts to slam me for Hunky exploitation, let me continue my comments on this subject.

Hunky people loved God. They were in church every Sunday. And they were generous to a fault. I grew up thinking that it was mandatory to take food to a family who was either poor or recently lost a loved one.

Sure we ate and grew some pretty impressive hunky bodies. But we took those bodies out on the dance floor at every wedding. After all, when a girl from Smock was married, you invited practically the entire town. And if you didn't dance, then shame on you.

We grew "organic" gardens long before the term was invented. We baked pies from wild apples and blackberries and used recipes passed down from grandma. And if you happened to be at a home when dinnertime drew near, you stayed. In fact, you were almost MADE to stay.

There was a bond and a brotherhood in our little Hunky town that could never be broken. Sure, people would talk about their neighbors, but show me a town where that doesn't happen. At least in Smock, the worst person would still be looked after by the rest of the town if they happened to fall on hard times.

I found a great dictionary of our West Pennsylvania "language" called CoalSpeak. You can find it here..

So to all of those Hunkys out there, may I suggest that after reading this, we take a look at that old lunch bucket that Dad took to the mine every day or go out to the butka and slice off a piece of kolatchi and grab a Rolling Rock and turn on the polkas. After all, that's what we do.

An' I'll see yinz guys later. That comes from one Hunky to another.