The quietness of long past

by Peter Twitchell

Growing up in Bethel was a great time in the old days when Bethel was quiet. We woke up to birds like robins singing, welcoming the new day. The sun was warm chasing away the night chill. The old timers were chopping wood to fire up the woodstove and boil water to put 3 handfuls of Hills Brothers coffee grounds to brew and after a few minutes saying grace to thank God Creator for his gift of life and all his blessings like the fish in the summer.
There was no television or video games to distract the kids. No cell phones to divide families’ attention to morning instruction on values like being mindful of others, being good and well-behaved and helpful to those around you.
Our lives were simple, fulfilled and happy. There was joy and laughter at our tables. We gave our families and children the attention lacking in the high tech world today. We were healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Sunday was a day of rest. The kids had their breakfast of cooked oats, boiled eggs, and milk, and a slice of assaliaq Grandma passed out to them. A special treat fresh out of the pan or cold from the day before.
After a day of playing and working at fishcamp it as time to get a good night’s rest. Us kids were told to be quiet at night and so we didn’t talk or make any noise. We were healthy back then.
Yesterday we drove up to Eagle River. I could imagine what Eagle River was like 200 hundred years ago. I could imagine it was quiet back then. As we sat down to eat it was anything but quiet.
It wasn’t like when I was growing up or when our Elders were growing up. We were instructed to eat quietly as kids.
There were about a hundred fifty people gathered at the restaurant, and it was noisy. If our ancestors could just imagine those 150 adults talking at the top of their voices and listen to that noise for a full hour they would probably liken it to the sound of a raging river or loud thunder.
We were sitting at a restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth 40 years ago and Paul Gregory turned to me and said, “We’re going to get deaf, sounds like a thousand geese.”