Posted in Memories of the Farm, My Vivid Memories

My Vivid Memories: Don’t Get Mad, Get Even.

There’s a layer of explanation I must add to this memory that I think will increase the sense in it.

I was the oldest grandchild born from the oldest child. That meant my mother’s siblings were hardly more than kids themselves when I was born. My interactions with my mother’s brother and sisters resembled that of a ‘baby’ sister more than a niece. My aunts married youthful men their own age too.

I love men! Yeah, I said it. I have no doubt that my uncles’ incessant teasing and practical jokes were most useful in making me the confident person that I am today. (Male role models are almost as essential to girls as they are to boys.) There were several moments when I teetered between the choice of crying and complaining or “taking stuff on the chin”. The route I chose which was not to get mad, but” get even” has made ALL the difference. As an 11-year-old, and on, it was quite a bold decision considering my adversaries were in their early twenties.

This one event, again, takes place at the farm. My mother’s ‘baby’ brother probably had been tormented by her at some point and his devilish pranks toward her children may have been part of a retribution. On the farm there were patches of burdocks. Burdock seedpods are covered in spiky barbs that easily catch on animal fur and clothing as Nature’s way of widely distributing the seeds. Those seed pods were famously directly responsible for the innovation we know as Velcro.

Burdocks with sticky barbs.

At the farm, we would grab a bunch of dried burdocks and make a handy ‘snowball’ of them for whacking each other in the back. They carried a startling weight and made ‘the receiver’ of the ‘shock’ have to strip off their overshirt and carefully pick them off. Pretty funny stuff!
My Mom’s brother realized that burdocks on clothes was annoying but burdocks in long hair was a nightmare and proceeded to hit me with them, every chance he got, in the back of the head. I wore thick long braids that became a tangled (somewhat painful) mess when that happened!
That same uncle had recently tried to fool my brother by pulling up to the electrified fencing (meant to keep the cows contained) close enough to touch the metal truck grill against it. My two and a half years younger brother would have gotten the startling (not deadly) shock when he exited if he had stepped out by grounding the electricity while still holding the metal door handle. If I hadn’t recognized the prank and grabbed him by the collar telling him to jump, not step out, that mean trick would have worked. Incidentally, those shocks from the fences packed quite a punch especially when you didn’t expect them.

Well, this gal had a score to settle. You can ‘mess with me’ but nobody was going to get away with ‘messing’ with my ‘baby’ brother. 😀

My uncle was in his early twenties when 77 Sunset Strip was a popular show. He wore his hair slicked back with Brylcreem probably because he wanted to look like those popular characters.

As luck would have it, Brylcreem came in a tube like toothpaste.

You’re probably already seeing my plan. And also, according to luck, my grandmother’s choice of toothpaste at the time was Colgate.

The color similarities of those two products were about to prove extremely handy.

This uncle had a habit of dragging out of bed before daylight and robotically eating his breakfast then rushing to the barn in a semi-coma. I never have seen since someone eat cereal with their eyes closed.

All I had had to do was exchange his tube of Brylcreem for the toothpaste that he was sure not to examine!

“AARGHH!” is all I heard before the bathroom door swung open. Still foaming at the mouth, he was ‘literally’ spitting mad. LOL
Even though I was laughing hysterically, I still believe he thinks it was all my grandmother’s fault for moving his ‘stuff’ around.

The moral bears repeating: Don’t ever get mad when you can get even.

You haven’t heard the last of my practical joke era…stay tuned.

Posted in In my humble opinion..., Unanswered Questions

Unanswered Question: President’s Day Edition: What’s wrong with playing a role?

I was surprised to find out that some people don’t believe we need to play a ‘role’ in life. In fact, some think that playing a role is directly opposed to being yourself.

Oh yes. Being (and knowing) yourself is important. We’re each gifted with different skills and temperaments, and I don’t think we can be truly happy without embracing and using them. But what about the ‘roles’ we play?

In the 1960s, I witnessed the birth of the ‘feminist movement’. Women, who had been generically excluded from many job opportunities, were legitimately upset. The societal roles of men and women had become so tightly defined that it was oppressive to all our ‘greater goods’. We were overlooking that the “best man for the job” could be a woman too. But, IMHO, there was a detrimental ‘overreaction’ that accompanied that movement toward change.

All roles were about to be reexamined and deemed too confining for ‘personal’ growth. The first to go was the oppressive role of ‘homemaker’. Women were told that they could, and should, do better. It’s almost funny that women seeking more, and broader, opportunity started turning on each other. Homemakers, those who loved their ‘roles’ as wives and mothers, became the new ‘punchline’. Women who didn’t ‘get with the new program’ were also treated like traitors.

Let’s get this straight, this was also the point where ‘being a woman’ started being more harshly defined than ever. All in the interest of liberation. LOL
You were suddenly ’empowered’ to look out for ‘only’ yourself if you didn’t have a Y chromosome. When you got up in the morning your gender supposedly defined everything you were. The ‘roles’ of mother, homemaker, and caregiver became a subliminal taboo. The feminist movement had made their ‘legitimate cause’ into a new ‘religion’ with the deity being their own definition of ‘womanhood’. Instead of looking for ‘equality of opportunities’ the mission took an ugly turn toward (a then undefined idea) what we know today as ‘equity’.

This was the biggest giant step toward destroying the nuclear family and most of the ‘players’ had no idea that they were the ‘tools’.
TV and Hollywood were happy to fan the flames! Compare the TV show “Leave it to Beaver” to “Maude”. Our culture was being nudged toward an end. {It didn’t work on me. Even as a child, Maude was always more of an embarrassing character than June Cleaver. Both were exaggerations of course.}

Where are we now? All traditional ‘roles’ are under attack. We’re even at the ridiculous place where ‘womanhood’ has no definition!
It’s also funny to me that the ‘role’ of CEO, feminist, activist, is okay for a “woman” (if you still know it’s an adult human female) but the ‘role’ of Mother is unfulfilling one’s potential, uninspired, and somewhat demeaning. [Here you might want to ponder, “Whose potential?” did the promoters of ‘mothers in the workforce’ have their ‘eye’ on.]

Our God given “right to choose” is always about what ‘role’ we’ll play. We can play many at once. Our ‘roles’ are not our immutable traits. You are a “black man”. You are a “woman”. You are “physically challenged”. But what ‘role’ you choose is where your ‘meaning’ is. By the volume of unhappiness and frustration now present in our society, it seems ‘meaning’ has gone desperately missing. It’s time to ask everyone, “What’s wrong with playing a ‘role’ in life?”

I suggest we start unapologetically reviving roles from our past and add them back to our ‘library’ of choices. Your true ‘liberation’ is all about the ‘roles’ you’re free to choose.
Abraham Lincoln said it best:

I want to leave you with more ‘food for thought’. It’s clear that the option to be a “stay at home mother” is obstructed by our current financial “needs”. If you think it was an accident that once mothers flooded the workforce looking for ‘equality’ they got ‘fenced in’ making it harder to return to being ‘homemakers’, you ought to watch the video below. The destruction of the bonds of the nuclear family is a basic tenant in Communism, as well as, making the population dependent upon government.

Posted in Weekend-Contemplating Alone

My Old School and My Nature

My elementary school has long been torn down and been replaced by a single level ‘efficient’ structure. Above is a photo of it as I remember it. Children’s ‘comings and goings’ were much more relaxed in the 1960s. Locking doors and other security protocols were not even imagined then. What a marvelous time to be a kid!

That three-story building held beautiful 8′ wide hardwood stairways worn with slight ‘dips’ from years of energized foot traffic. Eventually that school became a Middle School (Junior High) and I got to tread those stairways even longer.

The hill that Brayton School sat upon was my small city’s winter sliding spot. Families and kids who weren’t even enrolled there and from all over gathered to slide on that perfect slope with toboggans, jumpers, saucers and sleds, on weekends and evenings throughout our snowy winters. I imagine that area may be forever haunted by the laughter and squeals of carefree happy families.

When I close my eyes, I hear enchanted echoes from our activities inside that sturdy structure. Like being inside an old Cadillac- built to last with sturdy materials and a classical design- there was a rich audio experience that cannot be reproduced in modern schools or cars.

As sentimental as I am about the building, a specific experience also reverberates with me. It was something I did as a Junior High School student.

I’ll explain:
We students moved from classroom to classroom for each subject. A bell rang to end the class giving us about three and a half minutes to find our way to our next classroom before another bell rang. If you didn’t get into the next class by the second bell, you were late and subject to detention unless you had a good excuse.

I don’t, to this day, know why but I made a decision that those three and a half minutes were mine to use as I pleased as long as I wasn’t late to class. On a warm spring day, I challenged myself to run to the trees (in the photo foreground) at the bottom of the hill and back to my second-floor classroom before the second bell. My heart pounded in anticipation and when the first bell rang, I was off! It was exhilarating and ‘dangerous’. My feet had wings!
I got to the door of my class as the second bell rang and as the teacher was beginning to close the door. I slipped through that narrowing opening and made it!

I would do this several more times throughout my studentship there. Never would I be late.

Funny how I never included anyone else in my testing (challenging) of the ‘system’. A few kids caught on, but I never really brought it to anyone’s attention on purpose. The only adult who became aware of my personal ‘Olympics’ was our gym teacher. She held class at the bottom of the hill and when she saw me racing across the field one day, asked me what I was doing. Once onboard with my stunt (Why wouldn’t she be? It was great exercise.), she was a cheerleader who clapped and cheered when she’d see me coming. Of course, she must have told the other teachers. I was probably a teacher’s lounge topic a few times too. No one bothered me about it, though. I wasn’t breaking any written rule. That’s the difference between ‘good teachers’ and ‘tyrant teachers’, by the way.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more appreciative of that childhood ‘game’. It makes me proud. I believe it also explains to me that my independent, non-conformist, nature has always been there. It also suggests that pushing myself to better myself, on my own terms, was another intrinsic character trait.

I woke up this morning needing to document this in my blogging journal. I hope you enjoyed my nostalgic tale.