When I was driving to work one day last week, I got behind a local farmer who was driving his gigantic tractor, pulling his 24-row planter, down our road. It got me to thinking how much farming has changed since I was a kid growing up on a farm in the 1950s. My Dad farmed 140 acres as a tenant. He had a Farmall H, a Ford 8N, and a 4-row planter, along with various other small pieces of equipment. He planted corn and beans, but also rotated these with wheat, oats and alfalfa. We also raised hogs, chickens, beef cattle, sheep . . . and milked four dairy cows. Most farmers back in those days were like Dad. Many farmers today now farm thousands of acres, have no livestock, and own millions of dollars in equipment. Farming is now big business.
It seems BIG has become the preferred choice over SMALL in many other areas of people's lives as well. Maybe the farmers today had no choice. Maybe they had to go BIG to survive. I prefer SMALL. Since I grew up in the Darlington community, I will give you some examples, but those of you who grew up in or near the other little towns in Montgomery County can compare notes . . .
• I am glad that I got to munch on hamburgers at Raymon and Grace Brown's little restaurant in Darlington. I am not fond of dining out at fancy dives in Lafayette or Indy, sometimes waiting in line for an hour.
• I am so grateful that I attended Darlington School, where class sizes were small and the teachers knew all of the parents and kids. I would not have been happy going to a larger school, no matter how nice the building is . . . which, by the way, has nothing to do with a good education.
• I am thankful that I attended the Darlington Methodist Church with a small, but dedicated congregation. I would definitely not have wanted to attend a large mega-church with four ministers and services that resemble a grand show concert.
• I am happy that I got to spend time at Arthur Friend's little drug store, where I sipped on my cherry phosphate and enjoyed special-made sundaes, while spending time with my friends. I do not like waiting in line at the drive-up window for my mass-produced ice cream cone today.
• It was fun to go to Alvie Warren's hardware store to buy a new baseball each spring. Alvie and his son, Mutt, always kidded me and gave me lots of advice. They don't know me and they don't chat much at the large sporting goods stores today. They just want my money.
• I enjoyed watching Ma and Pa Kettle movies at the Sunshine Theater where a ticket was 25 cents and popcorn was a dime. I don't want to see a violent R-rated movie today for $9.50 and eat $6.50 popcorn.
• I knew the man who ran the grocery in Darlington. He helped me find the items on my Mom's list. I would have been lost in the giant "big-box" stores of today, where you need GPS to locate what you want.
• I drove Dad's 3-speed 1950's Dodge pickup to baseball practice. I doubt if that truck cost more than $300 . . . I wouldn't even feel comfortable driving a $65,000 four-wheel drive super truck of today. I would always worry I might wreck it, and my insurance would go up.
Well, everyone has their own opinion concerning BIG vs SMALL, or OLD vs NEW . . . I am not saying one is right and one is wrong, but life was much simpler in those days. I am glad I grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It was, generally speaking, a much happier time . . . especially for kids . . . and I am grateful to God that I grew up on a small farm in Montgomery County, Indiana. And that is where I still live today.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.