Growing up southeast of Brainerd on a farm surrounded by dirt roads all around, life took on a slower pace. Recently, paved roads have encroached within one mile on two sides of where the old homestead still remains, but the "washboard" gravel road thus far hasn't been covered over with asphalt in the name of progress. Agates are fewer in number than when I collected them forty plus years ago walking down the dusty road to the swimming beach 1 1/4 miles away, but the breeze rustling the trees with no noise of airplanes, cars, or trains is the same now as then. The half-mile long driveway that leads to my present home, where Dick and I have shared our life for thirty-five years, has become a bed and breakfast symbolic of the richly simple life I had as a child. Bob C., a longtime friend, shared this Dirt Roads message that encapsulates all the feelings that I have never sat down to express on paper. (My brother, Greg, has his arm around me in this 1955 photo. Dick likes think it is him instead.)
Dirt Roads by Paul Harvey
What's mainly wrong with society today is that too many dirt roads have been paved.
There's not any problem in America today… crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency… that wouldn't be remedied, if we just had more dirt roads, because dirt roads give character.
People that live at the end of dirt roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride… that it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it's worth it, if at the end is home... a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.
We wouldn't have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a dirt road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.
There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn't walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they'd be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun… and there were no drive by shootings.
Our values were better when our roads were worse. People did not worship their cars more than their kids and motorists were more courteous; they didn't tailgate by riding the bumper or else the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks. Dirt roads taught patience.
Dirt roads were environmentally-friendly… You didn't hop in your car for a quart of milk. You walked to the barn for your milk.
For your mail, you walked to the mailbox.
What if it rained and the dirt road got washed out? That was the best part… then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows, popped popcorn, pony rode on Daddy's shoulders, and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.
At the end of dirt roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.
Most paved roads lead to trouble. Dirt roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.
At the end of a dirt road, the only time we even locked our car was in August because, if we didn't, some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.
At the end of a dirt road, there was always extra springtime income from when city dudes would get stuck. You'd have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar...always you got a new friend...at the end of a dirt road.