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Clyde, Time was: We lost the keys to security

Time was, we didn’t lock our doors. We trusted people.

We had keys, but we even left them in the locks so we would know where to find them.

A skeleton key fit any lock. The jailer had great big keys on a ring. In the museum, there is the key basket for all the rooms at the old Mansion House that stood on the Square. Wayfarers could unload their wagons under the double portico, true colonial.

Nov. 8 1907: “The Mansion House, Salisbury’s most historic building, is in ashes today.”

Mrs. Ruffin was able to recover $35 hidden under her mattress.

Today we have plastic and cards, key punch pads that don’t half work and intercoms to “let you in”, with no one there to day “Hello, may I help you?”

The worst are endless recorded messages with a recorded voice saying, “The mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages at this time.” All we hear is: “What are you doing here?” and “What do you want?”

Trust went away with the keys, and it doesn’t return when you find the lost keys. You never trust them again.

People told us the truth and we believed it. Both of these are lost. Preachers, teachers and candlestick makers were without sin. We watched “Truth or Consequences.” Walter Cronkite was the voice of God. Whatever he said, nobody objected. Of course, that was before fake news.

Where did we begin to doubt? When did we begin? Trust in the media is at an all time low. Reporting the news in 1888 were four newspapers: The Watchman, the Truth-Index, the Press and the Herald. The Truth printed a story about a wedding that was completely fabricated and had to apologize in a later edition.

The proponent of “colored” women’s rights Sojouner Truth (1797-1883), who changed her name, said “truth is powerful and it prevails.”

Repeat after me, the Boy Scouts oath … Trustworthy. We could all use more of that fruit, but you must earn it. Truth is, over the door of the Post, the quote “The truth shall make you free” is actually half a verse from the Bible: “And ye shall know the truth and the Truth shall make you free” John 8:32. How do we know, if we are unwilling to learn except on the internet?

Superman was for “truth, justice, and the American way.”

We had a key to get in anytime, day or night. We didn’t need a curfew, the word meaning the signal given to bank the hearth fire and time to go to bed. Covrir “to cover” and feu “fire,” by middle English definition. Look at the police blotter to see what time most crimes are committed.

Time was, we went to bed at night. We believed we were safe and sound at home. Like Grandpa always said, anything after 2 a.m. was “up to no good.”

Add to that the old saying, nothing is forever except death, taxes, climate change and falsehoods. Not a lot you can do to change them. Well, maybe getting rid of Facebook and Twitter would encourage positive, open, face-to-face, conversation, hopefully polite.

“Truth,” Longfellow penned, “when by night the frogs are croaking, kindle but a torch’s fire. Ha! How soon they all are silent! Thus truth silences the liar.” Take that to the courtroom.

Why are criminals so quick to plead not guilty? Truth needs no locks and keys. Truth knows no limit, torture or serum. It crosses all barriers, age, ethnicity,  and if all else fails, in vino veritas.

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.



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