7 Billion Humans | Empty Nests in the Aging Developed World: Earl and Versie With Two Rotary Dial Telephones | Arkansas, USA

Earl and Versie With Two Rotary Dial Telephones | Arkansas, USA

Earl and Versie Henry bought a second rotary dial telephone so they could both talk to their daughters. Earl put all of his daughters through college by making molasses. The USA is aging similarly to Italy and Japan, but the high numbers of incoming immigrants masks it. The United States would not be at replacement rate of 2.1 without immigration.

Traditionally, the Ozarks has been an isolated region—bordered by interstates but none going through it. People were untouched by outside influences (television came late to the Ozarks), so the old music culture survived. It is now dying, however, because it is not being passed on to the next generation. Hootenannies held in the past held as regular evening events are now mainly attended by older people and only occur once or twice a month. To compound the problem, the Ozarks is feeling the aftershock of Branson MO, a town of country music theaters with more seats than Broadway. Branson is the number one bus tour destination in the country, reaping 1.4 billion tourist dollars annually.

“They’ve been flying over us for years and now they’ve found us . . . every small town wants to be like Branson and rake in the tourist dollars,” says musicologist Gordon McCann, who is trying to record the best of the Ozark music culture before it disappears.

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