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IntroductionPosted Wednesday, June 25, 2008, at 6:15 PM
This is the Corbin home on Cato Slough, where a family of eight children were born and raised. I stayed here until I was eighteen years old.
I was born in South Bollinger County Mo. in 1914, and after reading some history, I discovered that my birth was not the only notable event to occur that year, as Joe DiMaggio, Joe Lewis, Danny Thomas, Jane Wyman, and Dorothy Lamour were also born in 1914. The Panama Canal was opened that year; Edgar Rice Burroughs published "Tarzan Of The Apes," and the first red and green traffic light was put in operation in 1914.
World War 1 had its beginning in 1914, and I was old enough to remember seeing the soldier boys march down the cobble-stone streets of Cape Girardeau after helping to win that war, so I have lived through two World Wars, and witnessed the transition from the horse and buggy to the automobile and space travel, all the way to putting a man on the moon, and landing a craft on the planet Mars.
I heard the first feeble voice of radio, and watched as it spread instant communication to all parts of the world and outer space. I witnessed the arrival of the miracle, "Television", and watched with awe its first pictures, which were just about like looking through a dirty window to the outside on a cloudy day, where children were playing in a snowstorm.
I watched the flickering pictures of the silent movies, where captions were flashed on the screen to outline the dialogue of the actors.
When I was growing up out on the farm, our family income was about $300.00 to $500.00 per year. We had no electricity, so our only lights were the kerosene lamp or lantern, which gave off just a little more light than a glass jar filled with fireflies. We had no refrigeration, so any food left from the noon-day meal was simply covered with a table cloth, and come supper time, a few more beans were added to the pot and supper was ready. I guess salmonella had not been invented at that time.
We carried our water from a pitcher pump in the back yard. We didn't have a bathtub and didn't take a bath very often. Our washing machine was Mom and her corrigated wash board, and our clothes dryer was that slender wire, stretched between two posts in the back yard. The only time we had frozen food was when the fire went out in the "King Heater" in January.
In driver's education the first thing we learned was "Gee and Haw." Any discussion concerning the "Race Issue" meant a couple were arguing about who had the fastest horse. When anyone mentioned "The Pill," we knew they were referring to "Carter's little liver pills." Having a weapon in school meant that some boy was carrying a slingshot in his hip pocket.
We didn't have a lot of modern conveniences back then. We did everything the hard way, but we still found time to visit our neighbor and help any of them that were in need. Today we are producing many things to make life easier, things that will last for fifty years but will become obsolete in six months. We have so many time-saving devices that we have to spend most of our time taking care of them, and we need someone to help us carry them around.
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Paul Corbin is a 100-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archaeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.
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