Turn Down Day

As a teen, the sixties rock band–The Cyrkle wasn’t a favorite.  They were contemporaries of the Beatles–never as popular.

“Turn Down Day” struck a chord as an anthem to nonconformity. Perhaps an ode to late night revelers that slept till noon the next day?  “Red Rubber Ball,” shall I compare thee to the bright summer sun?  No way–it wasn’t my groove.

I like to think remembering details from childhood is more a sign of my OCD tendencies, than senility.  There were several “hometowns” during these early years, as my father changed careers.

There were kids that stood out from the crowd–remembered because they seemed world-wise beyond their years; were bullies or neighborhood troublemakers.  Johnny Farkas, from Miss Kramer’s, Garfield School first grade class, in Canton, Ohio–why did I remember your name?

In Greenville, it was the Graves brothers.  During the early fifties, they terrorized my older brother with tales of Russian invasions.  They took advantage, hogtied him to a tree, with the warning, “When the noon fire siren blew, the Russians were coming to get him.”

The McNamara brothers lived next door in southwest Canton, Ohio.  They had things we didn’t have–a television, and BB guns.  The father, apparently had, had some run ins with the law.

In tiny Medora, IL there was a family at the end of the block with a brood of feral, firebrand children.  The youngest boy was three, roamed the neighborhood in his diaper–if he wore clothes at all.  He could typically be found on their front porch smoking smelly cigars.

Why did some of these little geniuses have all the answers about birds-and-bees?  Not that the information given was accurate.  Repeating their risqué jokes risked being overheard, and subsequent punishment.  Were you one of those guys–Johnny Farkas?

 

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.