Ultimatums

They seem cruel now–but, back then they were attempts to gain control.  Different from admonitions, these were warnings; do/don’t do this, or this will happen.

“Come on, I’m going.  I’m not telling you again.  OK, you can just stay here at Aunt Edna’s.  Your Bubba bear is going to miss you.”

A few tears, later and the recalcitrant youngun’ came dragging along.  He wasn’t about to abandon his favorite teddy bear.

Behind Rose’s Market was an outhouse and a storage building.  The small town grocery store, was an after school meeting place.  Old men from town, met in the back, by the oil-burning stove, for their daily gossip fest.  Charlie Rose, the proprietor, gave a familiar warning.

“Get away from that shed–the boogeyman will get you.”

Grandparents gave an ultimatum or two.  Some of them quite macabre.

“Don’t play on the telephone.”  Or, Nelson Fenton, proprietor of the local independent telephone company, would come and, “Cut our ears off.”

Ultimatums came from everywhere, from aunts and uncles, teachers, townspeople.  They were battles of wills; attempts to maintain order.

“If you don’t stop crying and behave, I’m going to take you to the doctor and get you a shot.”

That usually did the trick.  No kid I knew liked getting shots.  Working in health care later, I discovered this approach, hindered more than it helped.

“Hit your sister again, and I’ll swat your butt.”  Direct and to the point–nothing else needed to be said.

Along the path to maturity, these ultimatums were no more cruel, than those elsewhere in the animal kingdom.  Mother cats cuffed misbehaving offspring; carried them by the scruff of their necks when necessary.  All creatures had to learn their places.  There were consequences for misbehavior.

 

 

 

Old People’s Houses

Remember going to old people’s houses when you were a kid?  They were dark and dreary, smelled musty.  There was no reading material for kids.  Worst of all, there were no toys to play with.

Lace curtains covered the windows–which were never opened.  Something to do with bad air.  Hand crocheted lace doilies covered stuffed chair arms and headrests.  They always fell down when kids got restless.  What good were doilies–anyway?  Playing with them always got you in trouble.

Old people liked to sit around and talk.  Talked about boring stuff and the good old days.  When a dollar bought something, and people knew the value of hard work.

Fidgeting didn’t work.  Neither did the sad-eyed, “can we go now, mom?”  Too much fidgeting brought the rapier-sharp “death stare” and the excuse, “you didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

Their pets were old–too.  Old dogs or cats, half-blind or deaf.  They sat on their owner’s laps and didn’t do much.  Old people seemed to know if they needed something.

The truth–old people were tired.  Tired of being sick.  Tired of being taken for granted.  Tired of disrespect.  Tired of being thought of as just being old.

 

Saturday, Weekend Review

So many memorable things, happened this past week, I shall attempt to summarize.

At the Naval Aviation Museum–conversing with a veteran fighter pilot, now confined to a wheelchair, about the PBY Catalina on display.  Also, discovered he’d served on the USS Kitty Hawk, at the same time as a good friend.

There were a few awkward moments with our houseguests–none that really mattered.

Overriding topics of discussion: misspent youth, giving in to social pressures, admitting errors in judgement.  Confession was good for the soul.

Not giving in to petty criticisms.  Realizing that offspring did things differently.  That didn’t make their methodology, wrong or right.  They worked hard to earn a living.

Balancing achievement with meaningful personal lives–they did well.

Two-hour feedings: a personal, family joke that I will share.

Happy Birthday to myself–tomorrow, the twenty-fifth of September.  I’ll be sixty-eight.  My web presence needs to be updated to reflect this change.  No hurry–I’m still sixty-seven till tomorrow.

 

 

Why So Serious?

Things have taken a serious tone as of late.  That’s not a place I like to be.  The sky’s not falling and I’m not a candidate for the Chicken Little award.

What’s happening this Wednesday morning?  The Olympics are in full swing.  Michael Phelps’ scowl made the news.  What did it mean?  The Olympic diving pool water turned a sickly shade of green.  As Kermit always said, “It wasn’t easy being green.”

It’s the start of the new school year.  Local television stations are featuring first day of school pictures–past and present.  Featured picture is from third grade.  It may not be from the first day of school, but it’s the best I can offer.

 

A Peanut’s Last Chance

It was a world away.  Fifties kids dressed in Sunday finery, arranged in polite rows; grateful for a chance to be in the audience.  In the days of black and white TV, every kid knew the curtains, behind the set, were the same color as balloons on Wonder Bread wrappers.  Then, one day, there came a mysterious phone call.

“Hello, is this the Adam residence, telephone number xxx-xxxx?  Is this the lady of the house?”

“Yes, this is Mrs. Adam.”

“Are you over twenty-one years of age?  Because, in order to be eligible, you have to be an adult of legal age.”

My mother grinned.  “That’s not a problem.  I’m the mother of four kids; the oldest is twelve.”

“That’s fantastic,” Answered Buffalo Bob.  “We’re broadcasting–you’re on the air right now.  Do your kids watch the Howdy Doody program?”

“Yes, I believe my oldest son, has.”

“This is Buffalo Bob Smith, from the Howdy Doody Show.  The reason I’m calling, we picked your name and telephone number at random.”

“Are you watching the Howdy Doody Show right now?”

“No, the television isn’t turned on,” Mom answered.

“Well, if you can answer the ‘secret word of the day;’ Clarabelle the clown held up earlier in the show, you’ll win some fabulous prizes, and a fantastic trip, to be in our television studio audience for one of our shows.”

“Mrs. Adam, can you tell us ‘secret word of the day?'”

“Was it buffalo?” Mom guessed.

“Sorry, Mrs. Adam–that’s incorrect.  Thanks for playing and keep watching.  It pays to watch and maybe we’ll call you again?”

Fate wasn’t kind to an eleven-year-old boy, that day, back in 1959; who’d never again have the chance to be in the Peanut Gallery on the Howdy Doody Show.

For we three brothers, at that time, Howdy Doody, was an unhip, didn’t want to be associated with, uncool, show for little kids.  The real kicker-we didn’t have a television.

The show disappeared somewhere in the dusty archives of early television kiddie fare.  “Quiet in the Peanut Gallery.  No comments from the Peanut Gallery.”  Those two hated, overused phrases, lived on well into adulthood.