Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the directors of the documentary Jesus Camp, produced a short video at The New York Times about the dismantling of Detroit.
One freezing evening we happened upon the young men in this film, who were illegally dismantling a former Cadillac repair shop. They worked recklessly to tear down the steel beams and copper fasteners. They were in a hurry to make it to the scrap yard before it closed at 10 p.m., sell their spoils and head to the bar.
Surprisingly, these guys, who all lacked high school diplomas, seemed to have a better understanding of their place in the global food chain than many educated American 20-somethings. The young men regularly checked the fluctuating price of metals before they determined their next scrap hunt, and they had a clear view of where these resources were going and why.
Half a dozen Russian speakers, all under thirty, packed up their car after a weekend rental of one of my neighbor’s cottages here in the Driftless Regional Resort Region. A few may have glanced at me as I scrabbled in the dirt, digging up buried money and muttering, “I am uncovering my wealth.”
My Aunt Audrey was a telephone operator in the sticks of Tennessee. We would visit relatives and I would get on the phone to act out, forgetting about Aunt Audrey or just being defiant. Until I heard a distinctive voice that I was sure was her say, “No playing on the telephone, Miss.”
Mr. C. said that even earlier, all calls had to go through the operator. So if you were trying to reach them, the operator might say things like, “You won’t be able to talk to them until Tuesday. They’ve gone to the river to see Nam Becky,” or some such.
I still am convinced telephone operators know everything.