How We Live Now in America:
Some Unprophesied Fruits of the Machine Age
Around our house in upstate New York are lawn and flower gardens and a kitchen garden, but beyond this small area of cultivation the forest has taken over. Yet this was a farm for more than a hundred years, supporting four generations, and when Roxborough’s population was at its peak, in the middle of the 19th century, it was one of hundreds of farms in the town. Today there aren’t half a dozen men in the whole of Roxborough who get the major part of their livelihood from farming. We have our kitchen gardens, and some of us have hens, and here and there a family keeps a cow, but most of what we eat comes from the counters and shelves of supermarkets. Our clothing is selected from mail order catalogues or bought in city stores, and the spinning wheels and looms and hatchels of our ancestors are bait for antique dealers. The fuel we burn is delivered in trucks and wood for the fireplace is hard to come by and almost as dear as in the cities.
These are signs of a two-way revolution. The farming is now done elsewhere, and done with fewer and fewer men and more and more machines, under conditions that often approximate the conditions of the mass production industries. We live in the country, but we live on the produce of California and Texas and Florida and New Jersey, just as we would if we lived in Troy or Albany or New York City. And by and large we make our living out of industry, most of us directly, by working in the factories of the Capital District, most of the others indirectly, by catering to the summer people or serving the needs of the commuters. The small town has been absorbed by the great society.
About the Author