Nicknames

“Hi Dot.  It’s been too long.  Stop by again–sometime.”  Mom’s given name was Dorothy.  Her friends called her “Dot” or “Dottie” before me and my siblings came along.  Nicknames, that were logical extensions of Dorothy.  It seemed weird at the time.

My given name was William, or William, middle name Arthur.  Nobody called me William or Willie–there was the normal Billy, when I was younger, and then Bill.  My closest friends called me “Wild Bill,” after I reached adulthood.  My middle name was left untouched.

Public school kids were cruel.  Nicknames intended as put downs, emphasized worst qualities.  “Four eyes,” for glasses wearers; “gimpy,” or “gimp,” named anyone with hitches in their get-a-longs.

In our little town, several residents had unusual nicknames.  There was “Peachy” Leach, “Push” Banks, “Silver” Scroggins, “Punk” Dowland; sometimes Floyd Rands was called “Slats.”  Never figured the last one out–unless it related to the “Abby And Slats” cartoon.

In high school, I was saddled with “Ice Blue,” because of excess perspiration.  I was also nicknamed “shaky” because of excessive nervousness.  Neither nickname stuck with me–thank goodness.

Why couldn’t I have had one of the cool nicknames–like, Scooter, Skip, Buzz, Zip, Biff?  All of which signified action–toughness.  It was just as well, none fit my personality.  None except “Wild Bill.”  I’ll leave everyone to figure that one out.

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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?

 

November Saturday

Coffee’s  gone cold.  It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning.   Because of that–and expecting to get treats when they come in–the dogs keep going in and out the back door.

The Holidays are rapidly approaching.  My annual Thanksgiving trek northward begins this next week.  Where has this year gone?  Although, last week seemed to drag on and on.

“Nothing but the dead and dying in my little town,” Said the Paul Simon lyrics.  I grew up in a tiny Midwestern town.  It has decreased in importance as the years have gone by.  Descendants of the people, I knew growing up, still live there.

A white, two-story, frame house still stands.  It used to be grandma’s house.  My sister and brother-in-law are the present occupants.  They’ve kept up many of the old traditions–gardening, canning vegetables, raising chickens.

My hometown may not, now, look like much, but it holds many good memories.

LIFE AFTER FIRST BREATH

The future is

Not always kind

We’re the same inside

Why should it matter

Where one came from?

If we ain’t got it

You don’t need it!

Proclaimed the sign

At the neighborhood

General store

Captured fireflies

Flashed in mason jars

With holes in the lids

Screen doors slammed

On wide front porches

Bridged the gap

Between young and old

Successes, failures

Life and death