Rural Life - The Painted Bird : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have cousins who live on a 300 acre sheep farm in the remote wilds of the mountains of northern new england. Unfortunately, a bit too far for me to bug out to. But even they have modern dependencies in their lives.

I'm wondering which is the TRUER picture of the post-y-2000 rural life to come:

(a) Helen and Scott Nearing's "The Good Life", depicting a non-electrified Vermont subsistence farm


(b) Jerzy Kosinski's "The Painted Bird", depicting the author's experiences wandering as a child through the rural villages of Eastern Europe. Though it was during wartime, the issue wasn't the war. It was the UNSPEAKABLE ignorance, vice, and horrifying brutality of the rural people. (Hey rural people, don't get me wrong, remember my cousins, above, they're nice people!!)

If in a generation we could end up like the villagers depicted in "The Painted Bird", then I'm with Leska, I'm outa here (earth life).


-- Runway Cat (, December 14, 1998


RC, I read "The Painted Bird" long ago ... Yech!

If that were the case, give me the rocket bug-out any day ;-o

But seems like it'll be a local thing, as to which rural community becomes loving and welcoming, and which turn macabre. Gotta be some places where the advances and joys of present-day life are remembered.

Will little happy communes sprout? They'll have to defend themselves. Anybody see Waterworld? No thankee.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx

-- Leska (, December 14, 1998.

IF you're going to die, don't simply give up.

I've always thought that if I was going to end up in a 9-5 dayjob with PAYE tax and no chance to ever have a high-level position, then I'd kill myself. I don't think that's a very likely scenario and I'm working 10 hours a day to avoid it (in fact, I *cannot* see it happening, but that's totally beside the point).

But if I was going to kill myself, or just give up on life as you two are considering in this particular situation, I would not want to simply take fifty sleeping pills or whatever the latest trendy method is. I would go out to some dangerous-as-hell place and make some big gambles, with the assumption that if I'm dead anyway, what have I got to lose? There is a tiny chance that you might be able to win and change the situation a bit. If you are killed- oh well, you'd have given up and died anyway.

I say it's better to die on your feet than on your knees.


-- Leo (, December 14, 1998.

Rural vice - you know, I was not going to touch that subject - at least not bring it up. Yes it is high. Probably as high or higher than city slums. Of course, it takes a different direction - most city people do not have easy access to animals for perverse purposes - and you don't have nearby neighbors to call the cops when you beat the crap out of somebody or are puking drunk in the front yard. I have met 15 year old girls, quite attractive physically, who told me their lifes work was going to be "screwing every man in Kentucky". Didn't get me! And of course when you have a thousand acres in the backyard - it gets pretty easy to grow a little patch of pot - usually in the guy down the roads corn patch - he'll get in trouble if its found - not you. Stills, cutting fights, drunkeness - its all easier without nearby neighbors.

Never could figure out the myths about innocent salt-of-the-earth country folk. Never met any myself - at least not over the age of 12.

-- Paul Davis (, December 14, 1998.

I'm not sure if this is "on topic" on this (amazing) thread or not, but I'll share it anyway. Over the weekend, I was in Northwest Arkansas, looking just away from the area of Fayetteville, at seculded properties. Yes, I saw some pretty "interesting" sights, in fact the real estate agent that I was working with noted that in many cases the people might be compared with the homeless people in a city, except that they had a home (such as it was).

BTW, this real estate agent is very Y2K aware, and in fact has sold properties to Y2K worried out-of-state folks as far away as L.A.: Jeff Elliott, Lindsey & Associates, Inc., (501) 521-6611, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (And he says that he is getting quite a few calls these days about Y2K survival property, with the vast majority being from computer professionals!)

-- Jack (, December 14, 1998.

Kosinski was soundly trounced for the depiction of middle European peasants in the Painted Bird several years after it was written. He eventually admitted that he had embellished the reality a whole lot. A few years after that, it came out that his secretary had written his books. btw. The Devil Tree is a much better book imho.

Y2k related? Sure. I've been saying for a year now to friends in cities - get out. And in the next sentence I'll tell them how many years it takes to become accepted into a scattered rural community, and ways which can somewhat help the speed of acceptance. Only one person I've known via internet re y2k has actually gotten out of the city.

-- Mitchell Barnes (, December 14, 1998.

Jack - one of the biggest problems in rural areas is petty theft. Lock everything, and don't use masterlock - they are too common and many rural folk have 50 or 100 keys they will try for the common locks sold in their area. Get your locks from as far away as possible. Never turn anyone over to the law for anything short of physical assault - you will be burnt out some night. And expect trespassers constantly - one of the main reasons I don't live in the country is that the rural folk have no respect for fences whatsoever. Establish a reputation as "the crazy man who shoots at trespassers" if you want any privacy at all. As for city people who come to the country to hunt - there is just no way to keep them off the property besides patrolling the fences constantly during hunting season. A car or pickup parked on the road side means you have a hunter on your property - you can either try to run the guy out yourself (go ahead - confront a drunk with a loaded gun) or call the game warden - who is a damn busy fellow that time of year. And you will have to replace your "NO HUNTING OR TRESPASSING" signs several times during the season - the jerks shoot them up.

Bugging out to the country just makes no sense to me. The main fault I found with Lucifer's Hammer was that no one shot George. Wouldn't have thrown his weight around like that for 10 minutes where I come from with no cops. And they would shoot him in the back - and not tell anyone.

-- Paul Davis (, December 14, 1998.


I have no idea where you grew up but the rural communities in which I lived in the upper midwest had *very* little in common with anything you describe. We never locked much of anything, unless we were going to be gone over night, and some of our neighbors didn't even bother with that. Had one theft, and that turned out to be local highschool kids.

When I was living in the Arizona desert all of us who lived on the wrong side of the creek (i.e. the side away from the highway) knew how to get into each other's homes, 'cause when the rains came, and the creek rose, whoever was still home had to go around and feed, water, etc the animals of those who had been at work at the time...and in all the time we lived there, we never had anything stolen by anybody other than a houseguest from the city.

Quite frankly it sounds like you ended up making enemies of your neighbors, as none of the other reactions you describe are like anything else I've ever seen. You didn't, by chance, sit around in public discussing how 'quaint' everything was, or how far behind the local schools were, or perhaps parodying some of the local customs? that sort of thing? If you did, then you should have expected exactly the sort of treatment you got. Also, every community has a few dirtballs and social miscreants, if you hung out with those, you were simply tarred with the same brush...

which brings up the rather interesting point that folks moving to a neew community need to understand that it may NOT operate by the same standards as the community they are coming from; that the people there may NOT hold the same values, as the people you left behind; and that you will most likely NOT be in the majority on some issues...those of us who for whatever reason have ended up stuck in urban, er, environments, have discovered this the hard way, and it seems to me that urban newbies relocating in anticipation of y2k problems are about to learn the same thing for themselves.


-- Arlin H. Adams (, December 14, 1998.

Wow, the contrast between Paul and Arlin's experiences of country life really shows some kind of discrepancy, wonder if it is geographical, chronological, or just random variation.


-- runway_cat@hotmail (, December 14, 1998.

Arlin - I was born there, my father was born there, my grandfathers were born there, and all my female relatives were born there. It is not good to have more money or otherwise stand out amongst the poorer neighbors. But don't even think we were some sort of newcomers. And if anything I have minimized the problems. Now we were a very large working farm - and we had oil, gas and paint stolen constantly. My father was somewhat forgetful - so we were never sure if tools were being stolen or just left around where a machine broke down. And BTW - I lived there for 25 years from birth to marriage.

-- Paul Davis (, December 14, 1998.


growing up in the midwest I was a preacher's kid - one of 7, so being substantially wealthier than the surrounding community was NOT an experience with which I had to cope at that point. Later, living in southern Arizona, the folks in the local area had widely varying incomes, but nobody really cared - we had everybody from retirees (including the 'cat lady' - a widow with somewhere between 12 and 17 cats, no one was quite sure how many), a biker couple (husband was also a master plumber), a retired army colonel and his wife, a young family of ultra-libertarian survivalists (whose major effect was to scare the living you-know-what out of the university biology students who were hired by the dept of the interior to survey local stream bed lifeforms), several folks who worked in town and I and my then- spouse...both of whom worked "on post" (i.e. on the nearby military installation). Whatcha might call your diverse rural community...

One aside on the latter situation: we were almost all (except the cat lady) fairly well armed, and the couple of times trouble makers attempted to come into the area, they were kept under watch by openly armed people (each on our own property), until the sheriff's deputy got there...word got around...that might have had something to do with the low crime rate as well.

how interesting that our experiences were so different.


-- Arlin H. Adams (, December 14, 1998.

I live in a rural community and my experiances fall in between Arlins and Pauls. Where in my local area I am depends on which way my experiances lean. If I head South West of town, I am VERY much in Paul country. You don't go South West unless you honest-to-God are armed. North and East are safe, South varies. There is one localized area of East you do not go unless you have a gun visible, but that is kept to one town.

Rural people are NOT all touchy feely "how-ya-doin" feebs. The case comes to mind of when the Crips (yes of Crips and the Bloods) came to town. They were here about a week before about 150 town folk beat the living hell out of them while the cops stood on the sidewalk and watched. We never saw them again.

Your quickest way out of town is enter a "townie bar". There are different types of bars in any rural town, and going by my area if you open the door and see seed company hats, it is a good idea to back out unless you know at least one person in there by name.

I would say the occurances are somewhat regional. My experiances, as well as my geography puts me between Paul and Arlin. My family dates back in this area at least a 150 years by the way.

Oh, and Jack...I wouldn't take what the realtor in Northern in Arkansas said to much to heart. Southern Missouri/Northern Arkansas is an interesting place to be sure. Wanna have some fun sometime? Mention AIDS down in that'll LOVE what you hear;)


-- Rick Tansun (, December 15, 1998.

So you don't advise us Brits coming over to admire your beautiful rural heritage, you make it sound like straw dogs.

Most of rural Britain has been colonised by the middle class (or aspirants).

On balance what is the best sort of area to inhabit in the States, rural, suburbs, small/ large towns, cities?

What are the best locations.

-- Richard Dale (, December 15, 1998.

When I lived in a small town in Germany after WWII, there was no crime to speak of, and no police. As grade schoolers we were not afraid to go anywhere without adults.

Now I live in very small town in the States. We don't see the crime and perversion problems described in this thread. We have left our home unlocked numerous times without any worries. When we went on a trip out of the states, we gave our NEW neighbors our house key so they could water our house plants and take care of our animals.

-- TTF trying to forget (, December 15, 1998.

Actually Richard, you'd be fairly okay in a rural area for two reasons:

first off you'd be different. Different accent, different vocabulary, and so on - Additionally, people would make allowances for you because you were foriegners...

Secondly, you wouldn't be dumb enough to think that you understood rural society from what you'd seen on television and in the movies Btw, arent there places in your country where not only the culture but the language itself changes substantially...uhm, rural Wales, ?Manx? (I think it's called), parts of rural Scotland, etc... you have your more rural areas too.

Rick's discussion about townie bars brings to mind a ranchhand bar that was a couple of miles from my house in AZ. If you saw one or two cop cars out there, it meant that somebody'd gotten out of hand, and they had to drag a couple of guys down to the county slammer for a few days to sober up/cool off/scare them into not doing that again. If you saw an ambulance, it was 'cause some fool tourist had wandered in and tried to pass himself off as a local. I knew folks who literally lived across the highway from the place but never went in it...just a different set of territorial values, that's all.

just my 2 cents' worth, Arlin

-- Arlin H. Adams (, December 15, 1998.


Choose the rural carefully. If a town already has a good sense of community, and helps one another out in times of challenge, then youve got a good group to hang with. I just moved away from such a community of 2,000 people. They are proud of their mountain retreat, and welcome scads of tourists each weekend, which can push the short- term population count up to 5,000. I know theyll be okay, because to a person, we were all tested with an incoming forest fire on two fronts. The whole town had to evacuate. (Wrote about that earlier and never finished Part 3).

Ive travelled more than most people do in a lifetime and lived in so many different places it would make your head spin. It is really OBVIOUS when a town is a hierarchy, not a community. Theres a lot of swaggering and ego-slinging. The local town paper is a great way to get a clue. Looking at whether people cutesy up the place or just get by with functional is another way to tell. Do they choose to dwell in, and create, beauty or squalor? Honoring the artists and creative ones is another way to tell. Is there evidence of art galleries and music? A local hang-out with flowers planted outside? There are so many hidden country gems around this nation. Real charmers. Id bank on their sense of community any day.


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 15, 1998.

Hmm, hierarchy vs. community as a typology, that's something to ponder, it gives a new slant on the issue. My only rural experience is in New England, where I found the rural people to be a hell of a lot more manageable, courteous, friendly, etc. than the Southies and other tough types of Boston (no offense, I love Boston, just don't expect anybody to yield when they're making left turn (from their right lane!) across your oncoming traffic) !


-- Runway Cat (, December 15, 1998.

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