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Sounds You Don't Hear Anymore

ford_15_model_t.jpg Remember the “ding-dong” sound as you ran over the little hose at the gas station? How about the cash register ch-ching, the bells on the ice cream man’s cart, the clickety-click of the telephone dial as it returned to zero, or the clacking of typewriters in offices and schoolrooms? All of these familiar noises have disappeared with new inventions and different ways of life. Some people even remember (way before my time!) the sounds of newsboys hawking the evening paper, the clunk of the storage box lid after the milkman delivered the milk, the whirring of the electric trolley motors, and the lady at the phone company saying, “Operator…What number, play-ees?” A few even recall hearing “ahh-ooo-gah” on the old Model-T Fords.

I listened with amusement as the radio talk show host discussed these snippets of the past with his callers. They mentioned 78-rpm records, 33 1/3 LP’s, and eight-track tapes. For most, it was a nostalgic excursion into an era that will never again exist. Then, I began to think of other sounds that nobody hears much of anymore.

“No, you can’t have that!” Remember that sound? It used to come from cruel Mom’s and Dad’s who, a) were trying to teach sound economics to their children, or, b) didn’t have the money to buy the toy or whatever it was kids wanted. That sound disappeared when the credit card came in.

“Whack!” That was the sound of the “board of education applied to the seat of knowledge” as my Dad used to say. It was heard frequently in most households for thousands of years, and with excellent results, until somebody started labeling it “child abuse.” It’s been replaced by “Please don’t do that, sweetie. It’s not nice. Mommy and Daddy will have to schedule another appointment with your therapist if you don’t stop.”

“Creak, creak, creak.” Wooden rocking chairs and swings on front porches all over America emitted these cozy sounds in a peaceful and safe setting. Front doors were left unlocked, children roamed the neighborhood and the worst case of violence was a schoolyard fight. In their place, we now hear the cold clicking of dead-bolt locks, guard dogs barking and security alarms piercing the night.

“Is everyone ready for church yet? We’re leaving in fifteen minutes!” This sound motivated a lot of sleepy, sluggish children to rush around finding their shoes and brushing their teeth. No one even questioned whether he or she was going to Sunday School. That sound has given way to the roar of lawn mowers, the rattle of leaf rakes, or phone callers asking “When is tee time?”, or “Are you coming over to watch the game?”

“Let’s bow our heads.” When the family gathered around the table at supper time (another lost sound) Dad always took the lead in saying grace for the food. Sometimes the entrée would cool a bit when he waxed long and eloquent. Compare that to many homes today where the food barely hits the table before it’s scarfed up, swallowed whole and nobody has even turned down the news announcer blaring away on the TV set.

There are even more lost sounds:

Intercessory prayers slipping beneath the closet door into the living room.

Old hymns wafting out of the parlor window into the neighborhood.

Dad’s voice cracking as he read aloud a moving portion of the scripture.

“Swish, swish” of frilly dresses on Easter Sunday.

America would be infinitely better off had these sounds not vanished. The sounds of prayer, singing and worship need to be reintroduced to our culture. The church must never lose the “sound as of a rushing mighty wind,” the blessed sound of the gospel as it is preached, or beautiful stanzas of new conversions taking place. These are sounds that built us in the first place and will keep us within reach of our Father’s arms.

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