Monday, March 5, 2018

Jazz Age Robbed Kids of their Childhoods-a 1927 Article

* Many times during the ‘50s and ‘60s my father declared that rock and roll was destroying America’s youth.  According to this 1927 article, however, jazz and what came with it had already ruined Dad’s generation.  Read the following and see what you think:
    The jazz age has stolen about four years of childhood from every American girl and boy.  Miss George Ann Lillard of Chicago, pioneer in the girl camp movement, makes this sad assertion.  Miss Lillard knows her girls.  She has studied them for years in her summer camp in Hebron, N. H. and is here now preparing for another summer out-of-doors.
    “Ten years ago the girls who could catch the natural gypsy spirit of camp life and enter into it best(?) were girls from 12 to 16 years old,” she said.  “Now it takes much younger girls-tots from 8 to 10.  One camp out of Chicago accepts children from 2 to 6 years.
    “This shortening of childhood’s span is a step backward in civilization,”  is the way Miss Lillard sums up the tendency of the age.  “Biologically it lowers the race.”
    She cites the animal kingdom to prove her statement.  The length of time from birth to maturity is one sign of a higher form of life.  Reptiles and fish take a short time to mature.  Kittens are full grown in a few months.  But their lives end in nine years or so.  Horses take longer to reach maturity and live often to 30 years.  Man, the highest form of life, enjoys a greater span and needs more childhood to prepare him for it.
    “This sophisticated age has made little men and women of its children,” she asserts.  “The clothes of boys and girls are an indication of their thoughts and actions.  Long pants like papa’s for the boys, French frocks, hats, even purses just like mamma’s for the girls.  Children are surfeited with life … before they are old enough to start to live.
    “At their parties paid entertainers amuse them.  Their whole lives are artificial.  Formerly, little girls who wanted to act ‘grown up’ would lengthen their skirts and put up their hair.  Now they rouge and smoke cigarettes.”
    Miss Lillard described some of the innovations in the new models of little eight-year-old girls.  She found one child who was making a collection of face creams.  A tot of 10 brought to camp at least a dozen bottles of beauty lotions.  A newcomer of nine remarked about the lovely time she had on her last day at home-she had had a facial, a shampoo, water wave and a manicure.
    “Get back to the simple life if you want to cut through the artificiality of the age,” is Miss Lillard’s advice.  “Camp life is natural, simple-the kind of life one cannot lead until he has shed sophistication and artificiality.  Therefore, camp life promises a remedy for the blasé lives of today.
    “Not camp life just for children.  Adults need it just as much (not this adult!)  For their own sakes and also for the sake of their children.  Enjoyment of outdoors and appreciation of sunrises, mountains, the ocean give balance to life, as well as food to the soul.  The very best way to combat the evils(?) of this age is to become as little children and enter the kingdom of camping.  It will put health into bodies and give a sense of proportion to life.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Not Everyone Loved the Beatles

* My father would have been the perfect candidate for the presidency of the “Hate the Beatles Club.”  As he watched the “Fab Four” perform on the Ed Sullivan show, he looked at me and stated,” Those pathetic #@$%^&*% idiots should be sent back to England!  But first they should be given haircuts!”  A few minutes later, he commented, “Each time those fools shout, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah,’ I want to cover my ears  and shout, ‘no, no, no!’”
Of course, the more Dad complained about the British rockers the more I loved them.  Just a few years before they came along, any money I earned was spent for comic books; now every available dime was saved for Beatles’ records.  Being no dummy, I hid those records in my sock drawer so that the Old Man couldn’t  smash them into tiny pieces!

Dad, however, was not the only adult to despise the Beatles and/or their music:

1. “(The Beatles are) The most repulsive group of men I’ve ever seen.”

2. “They sound like a group of disorganized amateurs whose voices seem to be fighting each other rather than blending.”

3. “Guitar groups are on the way out.  The Beatles have no future in show business.”

4. “Drinking Dom Perignon ‘53 above 38 degrees is as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

5. “The Beatles must be a huge joke, a wacky gag, a gigantic put-on.  And if, as the fellow insisted on ‘What’s My Line?,’ they’re selling 20,000 Beatle wigs a day in New York at $2.98 a shake-then I guess everyone wants to share the joke, and the profits.”

6. “With their bizarre shrubbery, the Beatles are obviously a press agent’s dream combo.  Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well.  But the hirsute thickets they affect make them remarkable, and they project kittenish charm which drives the immature, shall we say, ape.”

7. “Visually they are a nightmare…Musically they are a near disaster…Their lyrics (punctuated by nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’)  are a catastrophe.”

8.“The noise (at a Beatles’ concert) was deafening throughout, and I couldn’t hear a word they sang or a note they played; (it was) just one long ear-splitting din.”

9. “What a bottomless chasm of vacuity they reveal!  Those who flock around the Beatles (are) the least fortunate of their generation: the dull, the idle, the failures.”

10. “Just thinking about the Beatles seems to induce mental disturbance.  They have a commonplace, rather dull act that hardly seems to merit mentioning, yet people hereabouts have mentioned scarcely anything else for a couple of days.”

11.  “Stiff lip, old chap; even the Beatles will pass!  The question is, what next?”

12. “Don’t let the Beatles bother you.  If you don’t think about them, they will go away, and in a few more years they will probably be bald… And teenagers, go ahead and enjoy your Beatlemania.  It won’t be fatal and will give you a lot of laughs a few years hence when you find one of their old records or come across a picture of Ringo in a crew cut.”

13. “I would consider it sacrilegious to say  anything less than that they are God awful.  They are unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as ‘anti-popes.’”

14. “The Beatles vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.”

15. One more from Dad: “I never thought I’d say this, but after listening to those clowns  Elvis doesn’t seem so bad.”

* It seems to me that criticizing the Beatles is like complaining that Babe Ruth couldn’t hit.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Mouse in the House

Usually my wife Bev is  courageous and brave.  When her mother died, when her father and stepmother were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and when her sister battled cancer,  Bev stood tall and set an example for us all.  That’s why I was so surprised a couple days ago.

I was lying on the couch in the family room, alternately reading the newspaper and dozing off, when I heard Bev in the kitchen scream: “Help!  Help me!”  Thinking perhaps a burglar had gained access to our home, I hurriedly grabbed a broom which could serve as some kind of weapon.

Upon entering the kitchen I saw my wife standing on top of a chair.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“He’s behind the toaster!” she screamed.

My first thought was that this must indeed be a small burglar.  Gathering my wits, I asked, “Who’s behind the toaster?”

“It’s a mouse!” she exclaimed.

Normally I’m your everyday coward, but in this case someone had to take charge.  Grabbing the front of the toaster, I slowly moved it away from the wall.  No mouse was present, but a few droppings definitely indicated that one had been there.  I might not be Columbo, but I do have some deductive skills.

After I searched under the stove, refrigerator, and the sink, Bev gathered enough courage to step off the chair.  She rushed into the living room and soon returned with our oldest cat, Tressel, in her arms.

Putting the cat on the counter by the toaster, she said to him:  “If you catch that mouse I’ll give you extra kitty treats.” 

Tressel did not reply, but he did sniff around the toaster and a few other appliances on the counter before hopping onto the floor and running down the hallway.

“Thanks a lot!”  Bev shouted after him.

Going into the basement, Bev returned with four mousetraps.  “Tressel won’t do the job so I’ll take care of it myself!”  she uttered.

“You can’t put those traps out; one of the cats could get a paw snapped!” I counseled her.

So for the next two hours Bev created boxes with little openings that a skinny mouse but not a fat cat could get into.  She then placed the box-covered traps strategically around the house.

Since I was already tired before this great adventure began, I turned in early.  Upon awakening at about one a.m., I noticed that my better half was not in bed.  Getting up, I discovered that she was sleeping in the guest room.  I also discovered that she had locked the door and had stuffed a towel under it.  Shrugging my shoulders, I went back to bed.

By the time I awakened the next morning, Bev was already up, preparing breakfast.  Although still wearing her nightgown, she had donned a pair of boots.

“Why are you wearing those?” I inquired.

Without missing a beat, she explained: “That mouse might still be here, and so I’m not giving him a chance to bite my toes!”

When I questioned her about sleeping in the guestroom, she explained that the towel was to keep the mouse from getting in and attacking her while she slept.  Evidently, she locked the door so that a six-foot -tall rodent couldn’t turn the handle and then stroll into the room.

After breakfast our youngest cat, Zorro, walked into the family room and proudly displayed his trophy-the dead mouse-that he held in his mouth.  I’ll give you two guesses who disposed of the carcass.  For his valiant efforts, Zorro was rewarded with several kitty treats.  Relieved, Bev returned the boots to the closet.

I am not afraid of mice.  Now spiders, that’s another matter!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill

l*Sir Winston Churchill served as the Prime Minister of England from 1940-1945 and again from 1951-1955.  His iron will, dedication, and courage set the example for the British to withstand Nazi terror during World War II.  As you will see, he left us many thought-provoking statements as well as some very humorous ones.  Read and enjoy:

1. “I could not live without Champagne.  In victory I deserve it.  In defeat I need it.”

2. “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to h*** in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

3. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

4. “I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.”

5. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

6. Photographer: “I hope, sir, that I will shoot your picture on your hundredth birthday.” Churchill: “I don’t see why not, young man.  You look reasonably fit and healthy.”

7. Woman to Churchill: “Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more, you are disgustingly drunk.”  Churchill: “My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.”

8. “He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

9. “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which we will not put.”

10. “You have enemies?  Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

11. “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

12. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.  (This sounds like a great message for both educators and politicians).

13. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”  (WWII).

14. “In those days he was wiser than he is now; he used frequently to take my advice.”

15. “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”

16. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity.  An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

17. Angry lady: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”  Churchill: “If I were your husband I’d drink it.”

18. “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

19. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

20. “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.  We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.  We shall never surrender.”  (Take that, Hitler!)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The GPS Hated Us

Many years ago, despite the growing popularity of Global Positioning Systems, Bev and I stubbornly continued to use old- fashioned maps.  However, not wanting  to be the type of older people who refuse to change with the times, we finally decided to borrow a GPS from a friend to see how it worked.

After programming the needed information into the system we began our trip to see Bev’s parents.   Unfortunately, what should have been a peaceful, carefree journey turned into a battle of wills between my wife and the “lady in the GPS.“ 

We have traveled to the in-laws’ house literally hundreds of times, so naturally Bev has certain routes that we take.  The lady in the GPS, however, had other ideas;  she demanded that we take  alternative paths.

Whenever “Sally” (what I named the voice in the GPS) wanted us to turn onto a new route, we would hear something like the following: “Ding! Ding! Ding! In thirty feet turn right.”

More times than not, however, Bev would simply ignore the command.  This sounds crazy, but I felt that Sally didn’t appreciate being ignored.

“Recalculating!” Sally almost screamed at us.  Then, as if pouting, she said nothing more until we arrived at another turnoff.  Once again we were “dinged” before the voice commanded us to turn right or left.  Usually Bev continued to ignore the device.

In a battle of wills I have to put my money on Bev.  She is kind, sympathetic, and fair, but she can be stubborn as a mule (unlike her near-perfect husband).  Perhaps Sally was stubborn, too, but actually, I didn’t know her that well.

Over the next five hours the voice in the GPS intermittently continued to ding and recalculate, while Bev continued to blissfully ignore her.  I swear that Sally was becoming shriller by the minute.

At last we began driving across a long bridge that spanned a deep ravine.  This time Sally didn’t “ding;” she just firmly stated: “Turn right.”

Once again Bev ignored the command, and for once I was glad that my wife can be so stubborn.  It’s a good thing for us that she didn‘t turn; at the time we were in the middle of the bridge!

I think the GPS hated us, and at least from Bev’s point of view, the feeling was mutual.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Observations on Aging

Now that I’m 67 there is no escaping the fact that I’m old.  Lately I’ve noticed some interesting changes in my life:

1.  I’m developing a “turkey neck.”  My grandfather had one of these, but I never thought it would happen to me.  The other day a friend complemented me on my turtle neck sweater.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing one!

2.  Even with my glasses I can’t see well at night.  Headlights, both those oncoming and behind me, partially blind me.

3.  More than ever I’m forgetting where I put things.  The other day I spent 15 minutes looking for my glasses.  The fact of the matter is that I really needed to be wearing a pair of glasses so that I could find my lost ones!

4.  If I sit or stand too long I become stiff as a board.

5.  My back goes out more often than I do.

6.  At this stage in life I much prefer a bowl of hot soup to a hot date.

7.  Hair is growing in the weirdest places, like on my back and in my ears. 

8.   An afternoon nap is becoming a priority.

9.  I personally remember owning more and more artifacts like those that are now shown  in museums.

10.  When people want to talk to me they get very close to my face and raise their voices.

11.  I find myself more often saying “back in my day.”

12.  The Lawrence Welk Show is becoming more interesting with each passing year.

13.  For some strange reason my clothes have shrunk.

14.  When it comes to clothing, comfort almost always trumps style.

15.  Just a moderate amount of exercise can make my feet hurt.

16.  I no longer have any desire to go to a bar.

17.  I don’t stay up as long as I used to do.

18.  As I age my parents continue to get smarter.

19.  One thing is constant. Although she is in her sixties, I still firmly believe that my wife is the most beautiful gal in the world.

20.  It’s no longer important to win an argument.

21.  Family and friends are much more important than wealth, power, or recognition.

22.  I now own underwear that is older than either my doctor or my dentist.

23.  Now when my wife is upstairs and calls for me to run up the steps and be romantic, I reply:  “Dear, I can either run upstairs or be romantic.  Which do you prefer?”

Monday, December 18, 2017

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Back sometime in the middle ages-about 1956 or 1957-as the Christmas season neared , my mother, in a very serious manner explained to me the importance of being good if a kid like me wanted Santa Claus to bring him/her presents.  She explained that the old fat guy with a white beard (now that description fits me!) had little helpers called elves who were, among other things, actually spies. 

Yes, evidently those tricky elves spied upon us poor kids, took copious notes, and then reported their findings to Santa.  No wonder the song says that Santa “knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake; he knows when you’ve been bad or good; so be good for goodness sake!”  No doubt officials in Washington D. C. could use those sneaky elves to supplement their  surveillance of our phone calls and e-mails, but that’s another story.

Anyway, like any other little kid, I wanted presents, so I had little choice but to go against my basic nature and try to be good.  For over a month I didn’t fight with my sisters.  Without making a fuss I ate Mom’s cornbread that was laced with pieces of fat.  I even did chores without being told to do so.  In other words, I was making some big-time sacrifices.

There was one thing that puzzled me.  I had read that Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve.  This would be a problem, for our house did not have a chimney.  Heck, until 1955 we lived in a place that didn’t have a toilet or a bathtub, but at least Mr. Claus could get into the place. Dad explained that he would leave the door unlocked so that Santa could march right in and deliver that new bicycle for which I had been begging. 

You might be wondering how Santa let each kid know if he or she had been good or not.  Evidently Santa or one of those mischievous elves sent the relative information to our local TV stations.  This led me to another question.  Our local station had a Santa, but so did each of the other stations that we could get.  Dad, in his wisdom, explained that the one and only true Santa was at the North Pole; these television guys were his assistants.  I wonder why there was never a song written about them?

So on the appointed day I rushed home from school, grabbed an apple and a cold drink, and then settled in front of the TV to watch Santa’s show.  After wasting my time for fifteen minutes or so the old jelly belly finally got down to reading the good list. 

If I made that list there would be a bicycle in my future.  If not, I’d probably have to settle for three new pairs of underwear, or worse yet, a big piece of Grandma‘s fruitcake.  With baited breath I waited for my name to be announced. Then Santa, or at least one of his assistants, let me down.  I was on the good list alright, but the dude mispronounced my last name!  Certainly if he sees me when I’m sleeping and even knows when I’m awake, he must know how to pronounce my name!

But what came next proved to me that this old man in a red suit was a complete fraud.  He proceeded to name both my sisters on this supposed good list.  Any of you men out there who have sisters know what evil creatures they can be.  Either Santa was completely crazy or my sisters had sent him a little cash under the table.

However, to my utter surprise, on Christmas morning there was my new bike standing in all its glory next to our tree.  We had left Santa cookies and milk, but lo and behold, they were gone!  So maybe this assistant Santa was either naïve or a crook, but the real Santa came through for me.

Later that day Dad pointed out tracks in the snow that he said were left by Santa’s sled, as well as tiny prints that had been made by the helper elves.  I accepted that explanation, but I do recall that the day before Christmas my friends and I had been sledding in that area and that one of my buddies had his dog with him.

So everything worked out well.  I got the bicycle, and most importantly, once again I could be my normal awful self until at least next November.

So with all things considered, I still believe in you, Santa.  By the way, in case you haven’t gotten the elves’ report or talked to my wife, take my word that I’ve been pretty good the last month or two, and I’d really like to have a new Cadillac.  I’ll leave the door unlocked.  There will be a cold beer and a warm slice of pizza on the table.

*** Peace on earth and goodwill to all men and women.  Merry Christmas!