One of the annoying things about being old is seeing wistful Facebook posts about good old songs. Then you see that they are talking about songs from the ’60s and ’70s. The musicians and songs they post about the golden years of good old music are musicians I’ve never heard of and songs I’ve never heard.

I was launched in the big band era. Big bands were edged out by small groups or soloists playing guitars. They sang sad songs about drugs, injustice or unrequited love.

When I post on Facebook a song from 1943 that I can sing along with, I might as well be putting up a chant popularized by monks in the 15th century.

It has always been thus. You probably recall Aristophanes’ story about the old man who requested one of the good old songs called “Simonides’ Shearing of the Ram.” They had to explain to the old man that “Simonides’ Ram” was a corny old song.

You might have seen a TV program on which they promised to play the 40 worst songs from last year. Did it make you wonder how they could be sure they got the right ones?



By now you probably realize that your friends who ask about the cost of your PV panels, or when you expect to break even on your investment, are not interested in getting solar panels or saving money.

They are curious tire kickers.

These same people do not hesitate to buy $50,000 monster trucks or sailboats or convertible cars, which could break Midas just with their maintenance.

Some of us who got solar panels think the same as our friends with sailboats. We got them because it is something we wanted. Period. Later, when pressed, we might or might not come up with some economic excuse for having done so.

Why should I want to figure out the cost of solar panels I put up myself – over a period of eight years – on a frame footed on scrap lumber I got from the dump? I had the help of several good friends and I might have slipped a couple of them a dollar or two.

Figuring out the cost of such a project might be compared with preparing an itemized bill for raising an orphan child in your home, along with five kids of your own, for a given six-year period.


Anyone who asks when your solar panels will pay for themselves should be given the same answer that you give people who ask how much money you have in the bank.

“I don’t know.”


Are you ever really surprised to hear someone say something?

Today I stopped in to thank Virge for bringing me four lobsters and in the course of our conversation he said, “Oh, the old place across the road from Suter’s.”

Virge is only 82. Although we have more than a few very distant ancestors in common, he was raised in a village two miles south of here, and I was surprised that he knew of Suter, because Suter, who lived in our village, moved away in the late ’40s. We’re talking 75 years ago. Then I remembered that Virge probably rode around with his father, Old Virge, who peddled fish out of the back of his truck. I remember well seeing Old Virge with his fish truck in our dooryard. And today I was surprised to learn that Young Virge, who rode with his father, could still remember the names of his father’s fish customers in my 1947 village.


We talked of old times, as old men do. I mentioned that one of his little brothers came up to me 48 years ago when I was on my tractor mowing a hot, dusty field, and handed me a can of Coca-Cola. It is a thoughtful and unusual young boy who is able to put himself in the place of others. And Virge countered with his memory of my digging a garden for his mother with my tractor 45 years ago and not charging her.

You never know what the other guy remembers.

I am willing to bet that most of us are more likely to remember people who did good things for us many years ago than we are to remember those who trespassed against us. Many young people, and I’m talking about 75 and younger, have not yet lived long enough to realize that things their grandparents or great-grandparents did for a little kid is often clearly remembered by that little kid 80 or more years later.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.