Category Archives: parental attention

A little church humor

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When you usually think about church you may not include funny

memories.  I can remember being a single mother in Lancaster,

Ohio at the Presbyterian Church with two little ones in tow. I would

use a little ‘bribery:’ “We will go out to eat at (choose one of the

following choices) Bob Evans, Frisch’s or Jolly Pirate if you only

behave today.”  I would also include some behavior allowances for

crayons and scribbling on church bulletins and donation envelopes.

 

I have fond memories of my being at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

in Bay Village, as a teenager. I remember our minister, Reverend Lynch,

would include the comic strip, Peanuts’ philosophy. There is a book,

“The Gospel According to Peanuts.”  I also liked his use of humor when

he would refer to other comic strip characters like the Wizard of Id,

Dagwood and Blondie.

 

Hope these chuckles bring some smiles and I hope that you will also

throw in any humorous memories of church in the comments part

of this post.

 

“This Sunday in a Midwest city, a young child was ‘acting up’ during

the morning worship service. The parents did their best to maintain

some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle.

Finally, the father picked the little cherub up and marched sternly

down the aisle on his way out.

Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called out

loudly to the congregation,

“Pray for me!”

 

I would like you to visualize this cute picture of carolers, one upon

the other’s shoulders, almost like the Bremen Town Musicians.

They each have their mouths wide open and above them, upon a

balcony, is a family of music ‘listeners.’

Here is the ‘punchline:’

“The Hickory Knoll Church carolers were always ready to make

necessary adjustments.”

 

“Six year old Angie and her four year old brother were sitting

together in church. Joel giggled loudly, sang a song with lots of

enthusiasm and talked out loud,

“Who’s going to stop me?”

His big sister had had enough. Angie pointed to the back of the

church,

“See those two men standing by the door?

They will!

They are the ‘hushers!'”

 

This last one reminds me a little of my waffles post.

“A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin and David.

The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.

Their mother saw the opportunity to give a lesson on morals.

“If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have

the first pancake. I can wait.'”

Kevin turned to his younger brother and said,

“David, you be Jesus.”

 

Hope you have a relaxing, fun-filled and spiritual day.

Beginning a Week of Book Banning Awareness

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From September 21st through the 27th, the American Libraries Association has

declared this “Banned Books Week.” They wish to encourage our freedom to read.

The ALA’s slogan for this week is, “Discover What You’re Missing.” I think it is so

important to remind people of how recently we had books destroyed, censored

and banned in our country.

In my opinion, books on any subject are meant to expand our world views. They

open our eyes where we may hold insulated views. Some have been protected,

kept safe and ‘closed off,’ from what is being presented in their community or

‘tribe’ (or family.)There are some who home school, some who don’t believe

in public news, some who wish that all offensive subjects not be mentioned to

or around their children. I respect their freedom to do so and they have valid

concerns. But they must also be careful for ‘what they wish for.’ After having

a protected Catholic roommate my sophomore year in college go, ‘haywire,’

with her sudden freedom. Also, knowing a relative who sent her 3 daughters to

a Christian college, only to have one get married to a Catholic, a Jewish man

and another to live with a man out of wedlock, I think one must be careful

about what kind of life you are presenting to your children and family.

By the way, just so you don’t misunderstand, I felt all three of these choices

were find and acceptable choices. It is just the fact the parents had tried to

prevent this ‘kind of thing,’ from happening, that I mention it at all.

Creating awareness of censorship and banning books may seem ‘foreign’ to

ones in their twenties who may live in a city where this has not recently

happened. Historically, it is no so far in the distant past, as one may think. It

is also part of many cultures’ and countries’ current practices. Awareness of

the dangers in such behavior, burning books, taking black markers and

removing words, opinions, and whole passages of different perspectives is

so important for everyone to recognize.

The definition of ‘ban’ that applies to this practice is defined as to prohibit

especially by legal means or social pressure some form of information.

Censure or condemning through public opinion.

The definition of ‘censor’ is to examine in order to suppress or delete

harmful or dangerous material.

The major problem in both banning and censoring is “Who is doing this?”

Who has the authority to choose what we are able to read, write or talk

about?

The subjects of McCarthyism, Apartheid, Racial Issues and Governmental

Control are the ones that “leap to mind’ and produce a cold hand upon my

heart.

Do I think the military servicemen should have had their letters censored,

for fear of accidentally getting into the hands of our enemies? I would not

wish to make a decision that might cause death or infiltration of the enemy

in times of war.

Do I think that some subjects are ‘gross’ and upsetting to my mind? Yes,

but again, I would not wish to impose my thoughts upon others. I don’t

feel this would be fair or just behavior.

While teaching my first year of middle school, in 1979, I was in a small

town where the principal and the superintendent were from cities. They

said it was important to not feel that parents should dictate how their

students be taught. They made me feel comfortable about approaching

them with topics. Sixth grade Language Arts, along with English, Spelling

and Current Events were part of my instruction responsibilities. We had

team teaching, where the students moved from classroom to classroom.

Once I found out I was expecting my second child (my first miscarriage

had been the year before) I asked when it would be appropriate to tell

the students. We were going to be riding in a bus, in the winter months

to a swimming pool, I would be helping the kids to learn floating and

Life Saving techniques. I would be wearing a maternity bathing suit by

then. They suggested telling the parents in November and I listened to

their more experienced advice. We also were having Sex Ed discussions

in the Science classes. I was a little embarrassed as students would see

my belly expanding, but it turned out they loved getting in a line after

lunch in December to feel the baby move. Then, I would have them put

their heads down, as they rested and listened to the chapter book, “The

Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

What books do I think of that have been banned? Without referring to

a list, I imagined “Clockwork Orange,” from my high school readings.

I pictured and remembered that the word, ‘nigger,’ was considered very

controversial and some schools and libraries during the Civil Rights

Movement, mistakenly removed the book, “Huckleberry Finn,” from

their book shelves. The third immediate ‘banned’ book I could think of,

was “The Scarlet Letter.”

Why ban “Clockwork Orange?” Graphic language,  the governmental

control and the futuristic idea of mind control over a criminal. The main

character is injected, I believe if my memory serves me well, with something

that causes him to have pictures of violence and he suffers excruciating pain

from this. Why should we accept this book and not ban it? This is an intriguing

start to a whole new genre of books, which opened our minds to possibilities

and also, made us aware of the dangers of choosing how a criminal should be

punished. Do we have the right to do this? It can also be argued, do we have

the right to kill a man because he killed or committed dangerous acts. Our

legal world, with a ‘jury of our peers,’ makes those kind of powerful judgments.

Why ban “Huckleberry Finn?” I think fear of repercussions and misunderstandings

during a very dangerous, emotional period of our times. We can look at this

rationally, knowing the language was supposed to depict what was acceptable

during Mark Twain’s time. Why accept the book? Because it is an outstanding

story that does cross racial barriers and shows a black man and a young boy in

a fantastic piece of American literature. Their unique friendship and reliance

on each other shows a trust unexpected between two such characters, prior

to Mark Twain’s writing this book.

Why would “The Scarlet Letter,” which has a 19th century woman wearing a

red “A” across her chest be considered censorable? I think some would say

go ahead and promote this book. It holds their own judgments of the situation

on adultery. I am not sure if it is on the banned books list, which I had decided

when I set out to write this, that I would not ‘peek’ at the list until I finished my

opinions or had a chance to ‘editorialize.’ I think it may have been on the list

but would take it off, due to my determination that usually the WOMAN is

given the scarlet letter, not the man who was part of the couple engaged in

adultery. This is an antiquated viewpoint, but sadly this is still held in some

form or other, which is not the time nor place to talk about why this still goes

on.

 

The Office of Intellectual Freedom gets reports and complaints. They usually

get the most “challenges” to freedom from the public wishing to ban books

after the Top 10 Book List is published.

Here are the Top 5 out of a list of Top 10 the OIF received after the 2013 Top Ten

List was published:

1. “Captain Underpants,” by Dav Pilkey.

The complaints were: Offensive language and unsuitable for age group.

2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

The complaints were: Offensive language, sexually explicit, violence and unsuitable for age group.

3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ,” by Sherman Alexie.

The complaints were: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.

The complaints were: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoints, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.

The complaints were: Religious viewpoints and unsuitable for age group.

Hmm…I would have added violence possibly.

Overall, there are large numbers given on the official website of the Office of Intellectual Freedom

of the population that wish to restrict our reading materials.

 

 

The funny thing that someone in my life mentioned about censorship, I am

not quite sure who, but he asked this thought-provoking question:

What book has many adult themes within its pages, including adultery,

fornication and murdering one’s family members, but is considered

‘acceptable’ by those who wish to forbid and censor books?

(The Bible, he answered.)

What books came to mind, when I first started this post, that may be on past

banned books lists?

 

Nelson Mandela’s quotation seems apropos:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,

but to live in a way that respects and enhances

the freedom of others.”

 

“Pet Peeves”

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How aggravating!

How annoying!

Nuisances.

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

I have some gripes to express. Hope you will tell me what your

main ‘beefs’ with other people are!

 

1. “Repetitive complainers.”

You give advice to help them.

You try a different piece of advice

the next time.

You feel like you are ‘spinning wheels.’

Finally, when none of the thoughtful

approaches you have given to these,

‘whiners,’ you give up.

You hope they find someone else to

listen to them:

“Just because I am nice, doesn’t mean I want

to listen to you!”

 

2. “Sloppy parkers.”

Everywhere you go, there are ones

who feel their prize possession requires

two spots. Why not add to our relief and

your longer life, by parking far out in

the boondocks? Walking is so good for you

and your ‘car is safe’ out there!

The other ones, who go hand in hand with

these special car owners, are the ones who

bump your car with their door.

“My car is ‘special’ to me, so please use your

manners!”

 

3. Potluck ‘no shows.’

When the list is passed around, they add their

choice of homemade dish or dishes. They are

sometimes able to give a very good excuse for

not following through, lack of participation.

But, there are a few who ‘slide’ into line, get

a plate and you absolutely know they could

not even bring $2 hot dog buns or $1 pop.

Everyone has one ‘free pass’ I feel at our work

potlucks, but I know of a few who have NEVER

brought something to share.

“Come on, don’t you feel a little guilty about

not bringing anything?”

 

Family potlucks are different, I like to bring

extras, to cover those who have run out of time

or are short on money. Again, it is okay to bring

crackers or fresh produce out of one’s garden. . .

“Love means not having to bring anything but

oneself.”

 

4. “Borrowers.”

I have several in my work and apt. buildings.

Sometimes, it is no big deal, a quarter for laundry,

an egg or a cup of sugar. A little something, over

and over again,  does add up, though.

I have given once a week 25 cents to someone at work,

in a month it is a dollar…

If I need to borrow, I always come back the next day

and return the money. Mainly, due to my age and

forgetfulness, I do this.

The next time I shop, returning the egg is at the top

of my list of ‘things to do,’ sometimes adding a couple

of cookies or whatever I have noted they like.

Those borrowers are~

“Nickel and diming my good nature away!”

Please give back!

 

5. “Ride Takers.”

I like to help out, I honestly do. But there is someone

who actually had me take them through the drive-thru

and did not offer to buy a pop or iced tea on a long, hot

day!

When I have sometimes chosen to slow down and roll

down the window, seeing someone I know walking, that

is my choice. But there are now 2 people who linger at

our lockers, waiting outside having a cigarette or just

standing by my car, to get their rides.

Recently I have developed a thicker skin and have said,

“I have somewhere else I have to go, after work, which is

going to take me a different direction.”

Offer something to repay kindnesses.

 

6. “People who don’t know how to whisper.”

If you ever see the Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James

Gandolfini, someone put this right into the script!

That movie, “Enough Said,” includes few of my little

‘pet peeves’ that others do, that get on my nerves.

In the movie, it is actually a date at a movie theater,

where James’ character is not able to whisper but

uses a normal talking voice. If I really liked (or loved)

someone who did this, knowing they were not able

to do the quiet voice, I would just have to watch DVD’s

and use the ‘pause’ button, often! I cannot stand it

when there are people talking loudly for more than

a minute or two, at the library. I try to not glower or

give them my ‘mother’ or ‘teacher’ stare.

Try to refrain talking, if you have been told you have

a loud whisper.

 

7. “Frequent Guests/Rare, if ever, Hosts.”

Now, I may be’ treading on thin ice’ on this subject.

I know that I tend to have people come over and I

do enjoy their company. I loved this much more

when I lived in a nice, big house!

There was a certain friend who had been to my apt. about

3-4 x monthly, which means at least 40 times in one year,

making the total of over 80 times in two years. She thinks

she is saving me from driving her direction, a few miles

away. Once she comes over, she is hard to get back out of

my place. Worse still, is sometimes when we have made plans

to go somewhere, I will try to meet her at the door. She had

started to come early, though. Then I have her sitting in my

apartment watching me put on my makeup.

I guess this sounds funny or petty. I have picked her up at her

mobile home, which I can see from my car, that she has a nice

place, pretty curtains and some landscaping. I have NEVER

been asked in, before or after our times out. I have hinted by

saying, “If you let me come over for coffee sometime, I will

have a better idea of what kind of gift I may buy for your

birthday or Christmas.”

By sitting in my apartment, I have given her a sandwich,

cookies, chips, coffee, tea, pop, a few glasses of wine and

even, accidentally her spying my Godiva bag of chocolates

on a shelf when I opened the cabinet to get something else

to give her, I have felt ‘forced’ to share my chocolates!

This is ‘horrible’ to admit, but I have started saying,

“Let’s drive separately, I will meet you at the movies (or

wherever we have determined we should go together.)”

Take turns with your friends.

 

8. “One’s Situation is Always Worse Than Yours.”

I don’t think that I dwell on my misfortunes, in fact it

is only when a circumstance resembling my own comes

out in a conversation, will I mention how I have handled

my personal challenges in life.

This example is more easily described as, “Debby Downers,”

or “My Life Sucks More Than Anything You Say Is Going On

With Yours.” My daughter calls them, “Negative Nancy’s.”

While in high school, my Mom noticed this about a good

friend of mine, she even felt that it was her place to tell this

teenager that she needed to be able to ‘rise’ above some of

her circumstances and really, try to find some kind of ‘silver

lining’ in her life. Mom also started a little bit of silly passive

aggressive behavior, I am sure it went unnoticed by my girl-

friend. When the friend would call, she always asked, “Is

Robin there?” My Mom would say, “Yes.” There would be

dead silence. My Mom would wait it out. My friend would

finally ask, “Can I talk to her?” Mom, (English and Spanish

high school teacher) would say, “I suppose.” Tick. Tick. Tick.

Finally she would say, “May I speak with Robin?”

As my Mom was generous, she would often ask this friend,

who really was sometimes annoying (even) to me, “Would you

like something to drink?” The answer, invariably was, “Yes.”

My Mom would list a few choices, if it were the weekend, they

included juice, milk, iced tea or pop. This friend seriously

would say, “I don’t care.” My Mom would sit down and not

pursue the matter again, until the next time she came over.

I did not get to the point of giving her up, until we were in our

fifties. I was so understanding of her divorces, I was so helpful

with painting designs on her walls and her granddaughter’s

dresser. I understood that she has fibromyalgia, I volunteered

to weed armpit-high weeds, cleaning her basement and her

kitchen for her son’s high school graduation party. I served

the food, having brought two side dishes and a graduation card

with enclosure of money. Even when I worked two jobs, I was

able to spend time with her, since I did feel that she had few

people who cared about her. Her own sister would not invite

her to holidays. Her father would come down and take her out

to eat and then drive back to Cleveland. (Her mother passed

away when we were adults and parents of our own children.

I attended her mother’s funeral and she attended my Dad’s.)

Then, one holiday she showed up with her son and his girlfriend

uninvited for a Thanksgiving meal. I opened the door and then

closed it partway saying, “Maybe I should check with my parents,

this is possibly my Dad’s last holiday with his grandkids.”

I kept them waiting on the front doorstep. My Mom offered to go

and tell her, “No, this is beyond rude.” My oldest daughter said

she would go to the door and say, “Sorry this isn’t a good time.”

Finally, my ex-husband went to the door and I heard him say,

“Holidays are not times to show up unexpectedly. Thanks for the

kind thoughts about my father-in-law’s cancer. (She did not say

a word about him at this time.) Happy Thanksgiving.”

(Myex’s Christian upbringing came to the forefront, for which I am

ever grateful.)

When he came back to the living room, having heard his deep voice

carried into the living room, my Dad said, “Who was that woman?

Are solicitors allowed to come on holidays?” We all chuckled and let

the funny Cracker Barrel fish sing its silly tune, which we tended to

have for his last Christmas, too. (“Take me to the river…”)

 

9. Last but not least- –

“People Who Root for the Opposition.”

Those who have lived more than 20 years in a state,

who may have been avid fans of another state’s team,

note that sometimes you may have more fun, if you

decide to ‘switch alliances.’

I have a friend who lived in Michigan for all of three

years of her life. Karen will not wear any Ohio team

shirt days, she is always there with her blue and gold.

I totally understand people who were dislodged from

their homes or who grew up for years in a location but I

will say this, my parents grew up as Cincinnati Fans.

They both attended U. of C. liked Cincy Bengals and

Cincy. Reds, too.

They moved to Cleveland, immediately purchasing

all the Cleveland gear needed to support their new

home town. I am not sure whether anyone will find

this amusing, but I think that being in Ohio Wesleyan’s

back yard, I bought an OWU shirt, black and red. I

still wear my BGSU t-shirt and zip-up orange jacket. Just

while visiting Bowling Green or up in Cleveland.

While walking around Delaware, Ohio, I enjoy supporting

the university and being a ‘townie!’

I just have to wonder, when everyone at work is wearing

scarlet and gray, why not indulge in a purchase of an OSU

t-shirt? Why not wear the blue and maize at home, in front

of your television? But I don’t think this is a big pet peeve,

after all, we have lots of fun talking about Cleveland,

since you lived there, too. WE enjoy talking about the good

old Terminal Tower, Ghoulardi, The Ghoul, Big Chuck and

Houlihan… Why not get a Cleveland Browns’ shirt or a

Cleveland Indians’ t-shirt?

“Commit to your Home Town or Home State.”

Now, that I have taken too much of your time up in my list

of ‘pet peeves,’

What’s one of your ‘beefs?”

Who gets your ‘goat?’

Who gives you ‘grief?’

Come on now…

“Let’s Dish!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errands

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This is a nostalgic post about the many days I spent with my mother doing

errands with her. I was blessed to be the only girl, my brothers were not

interested in tagging along with us.  Ever!

My father was put in charge of the ‘boys,’ while we sometimes dressed up

and went to the downtown Sandusky shops. Then, when I reached third grade,

we sometimes ventured off to downtown Cleveland. The big stores, like The

May Company, Halle’s, and Higbees department stores. Each had their own

luncheon menus, nice dining rooms and calm, quiet atmospheres.  It was so

indulgent of Mom to treat us to a nice meal out.

There were other errands, like to the individual stores, where you would go

into, just to make one or two purchases.  Not like today, the one stop shopping

experience! Nor were we yet, going to malls to search for necessary items.

In the paint store, we would look and look through colors of paint chips.

Sometimes those strips were available, but not sure when the time frame

was that they arrived at the paint store.

We also would go in antique stores and look all around, sometimes only to

purchase one vase or gift for my aunt, one of mother’s friends or for one of

the book shelves or display shelves in our home. I liked when we looked at

odd things, like tiles that were taken out of an older home, headboards or

frames for paintings. I had only two things I collected which were place card

holders and birds of all kinds. I normally would just look, unless my birthday

or Christmas were approaching. I was not one who would ask for anything,

though. Somehow, I just liked to look at all the pretty and interesting things.

 

At the fabric store, where all sewing items were sold, we would spend hours

pouring over the patterns for ‘back to school’ clothes, for her and for me. She

and I wore matching clothes to church sometimes, but while we were in two

different school districts, it never worried or embarrassed me to know that

my Mom may be wearing the same fabric and pattern, only a whole different

size! My favorites of all the parts of the store, were the turning racks of cards

with buttons on them. I also liked choosing rick rack for the edges of skirts.

One wonderful and sensory memory, was the smell of the fabrics! While men

may be excited about the scent of the ‘new car smell,’ I still love the smell of

textiles! The final nice memory, which really came flooding back to my mind,

today while quietly visualizing my experiences of errands is using the sense of

hearing. This is a sound which came resonating and reverberating back to me:

“Thump, Thump, Thump!”

The big bolt of cloth being unwound from its cardboard base.

Followed by the unmistakable sound of the fabric shears slicing through the fabric,

going along the weave, or the ‘bias’ of the fabric.

Then, the sales clerk, folding the fabric up, tabulating the items that went along with

it, buttons, thread, lace or rick rack, and the patterns. (Sometimes a zipper was also

purchased.)

Carefully gathered, placed into the bag. Sometimes it was a paper bag with handles, in

later years, it was a plastic bag.

If we were running to the grocery store, on a whole different day, we may not get so

dressed up. This may just be pants or shorts for me, a nice clean top inspected by my

Mom. My mother wore dresses through until the 70’s, for her wardrobe for ‘going out’

in. Then, there were pant suits, matching items.

Mom’s choice of makeup meant, a mirror came out, a lipstick was smoothed over her

lips, her face powder was applied, and then rouge.

She has still ‘Bette Davis’ eyes, which don’t need any mascara and she hardly ever chose

to wear eye shadow, either!

 

When you think of ‘errands’ you ran, with one or both of your parents, what senses seem

to be important to your memories?

What is a memory that is so fresh that you can remember many details to it?

Summer, 1924: Whimsical Children’s Poems

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The book that I referenced for Father’s Day, 2014, included a poem

about an inquisitive boy who became a father. The gist of the poem

was about curiosity and the wonders of the child, who grew up into

his role of Father.

This book that I love to look at, has a deep azure blue cover, with gold

lettering and pictures, engraved on the binding and above the title of

the book. I wrote about these details before. . . so I will introduce once

again, a ‘found’ book from the discarded pile of the library.

The book’s title is, “Fancy’s Hour,” written by Norman C. Schlichter,

published in 1924.

 

I have never told you about the Dedication Page, which I feel is so

charming:

 

“TO ALL CHILDREN

Sure Guides

in

The Kingdom of Fancy”

 

Here are two late Summer poems to rejoice and enjoy childhood memories.

The first one is about another name for “Pinwheels.”

 

“Whirligigs

 

Whirligigs, whirligigs,

Turning in the sun,

Light of foot, happy-eyed

After you, we run.

 

Whirligigs, whirligigs,

Laughing in the wind,

Tight we hold the little sticks

Unto which you’re pinned.

 

Whirligigs, whirligigs,

We and you are one.

All you have to do is turn,

We need only run.”

 

This reminded me of how when little toddlers have colorful

pull toys, like that one that ‘popped’ little balls up into a clear

ball, those ducks with rubber feet that flapped, ‘slap, ‘slap’

upon the sidewalk, and the joy of sparklers, too! I think that

as adults we forget how we liked to hear repetitive verses.

That sing song sound of words, makes it wonderful to chant!

 

“Song for Sleep Ears

 

Where runs the river,

Where rolls the sea,

There go the lovely boats

In which I’d like to be.

 

Some with gentle winds are sailing

Some with storms are rocking,

Some in bays are lying still,

Like an idle stocking.

 

Some with masts, and some with none;

Empty, full they’re going

Where the sea waves roll and toss,

Where are rivers flowing.

 

Cozy beds in every boat

For little ones like me;

Light I’d sleep upon the river,

Deep upon the sea.”

 

After a busy day of running around, finally children lie down to hear books,

stories of poems like this one. I used to read, “Wynken, Blynken and Nod”

to my children. I also enjoyed, “The Owl and the Pussycat,” to relax them,

telling them to close their eyes and listen to the rhythm of the words.

I enjoyed, last of all, this reminder of boats. I liked to sing the bedtime

song, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

It takes a special kind of author to create and choose to write poetry for

specifically children in mind. It is a challenge and requires a unique ‘ear’

and talent for what would capture their minds with magical words.

Little ones enjoy the words, as they sink into their pillows into dream land.

 

Famous T. V. Dads

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Famous television fathers were quite conventional, sometimes filling

current stereotypes, but they usually seemed above normal in their

tolerance and patience. We were talking at Friday’s midpoint mark, in

the breakroom about how we may have formed misconceptions about

the way dads should act from watching these early family shows. After

all, most of us did not have traditional fathers, who would go to work in

suits and ties, come in cheerful, pull out a newspaper and quietly unwind.

I am sure my father wished he could have been ‘so lucky!’

My family consisted of two bread-winners and the three of us children,

were often in the winter months the last ones picked up at our baby-

sitter’s house. I remember looking out of Mrs. Boos’ picture window

into the darkness, wondering which day it was that Mom was doing her

oracle debates, drama or Spanish club meetings? I would sigh with an

almost exasperated ‘whoosh!’ when I finally saw her station wagon’s

headlights in the driveway. Mrs. Boos had two sons who played with my

brothers, occasionally I would join in or get a chance to sit on Diana’s

bed, her teenaged daughter and look at pictures of the Beatles or the

Dave Clark Five, or sometimes there would be magazines full of fashion

and hairstyles. My Mom was pleased when Diana went to Kent State

University and invited me to spend “Siblings Weekend,” as Diana’s baby

‘sister,’ Robin.

When we got home, my Dad, usually, would be home shortly, pulling off

his tie, after he took off his jacket, asking what he needed to do to ‘pitch

in.’ Spoiled me, made me think all fathers were like this. Today, Saturday,

June 14th, 2014, they had on the CBS Morning Show, a segment on the

percentage of fathers in the fifties, sixties and seventies that helped out

in child-rearing responsibilities. Sadly, they still said in the more recent

years the percentage of household responsibilities, even with working

moms being in the majority, it is still not a 50/50 deal.

Anyway, Melvin’s Mom and Dad were more like my parents, sharing the

chores and also, enjoying family times together. He admitted most of

his African American friends had either a limited amount of fatherly

involvement or none.

Tammy said that her mother had stayed home, whenever she would ask

for help inside the house, her father was quick to remind her, “You don’t

work.” She was dismayed at this behavior, remembering, even as a young

girl in her imagination, “I won’t stand for this in my adult life!” (Tammy

and Mike have been friends since childhood, “fence post buddies,” but have

never tied the knot.) She certainly is open that she doesn’t even have a

joint account with Mike, they just split the bills and love each other. She

is an independent woman, almost the ‘polar opposite’ from the parents

she dearly loves.

Trevinal said his parents are more together now, but in his childhood his

father sounded like my first husband, wished for dinner on the table,

kids cleaned up and early to bed, and lots of time watching his favorite

sports shows on television. There is a whole different love that he and his

wife share, more understanding and encouragement. He is so ‘blessed,’

he says to have someone who believed in his ability to think. The family

cannot believe that he is in Nursing School, working fulltime to pay his

bills and rising far above the expectations of Special Education. He feels

that by meeting the ‘right’ woman to share his life is a ‘daily blessing.’

His being in his thirties, reminds me of my own son, and I also remind

him of my belief in his ability to be a good father, when the time comes.

Here are the above persons’ and other coworkers, along with family

members who have cited some excellent, funny and different television

situational comedies for “Best Examples of Television Fathers:”

1.  My favorite father of all time, is from the show, “My Three Sons.” This

show allowed a non-traditional father, in amongst the ‘drones’ that I

found on other television shows. The combined household of widower,

played by Fred McMurray, his brother, who was the boys’ Uncle Charlie,

and the three rowdy boys always made me admire the patience, fortitude

and compassion showing what I considered “true family values.”

 

That is not to say, I didn’t laugh at the antics of Dick Van Dyke, Danny Thomas,

John Forsythe  (“Bachelor Father”) or Brian Keith (“Family Affair.”) I also liked

“The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” an almost first time reality show, since the family

was played by actual family members. I liked the sense of humor and the handsome

boys in this one! (Diana, my babysitter’s daughter, also had a few articles in her

teen magazines which featured the Nelson boys, especially the “cute” Ricky!

 

2.  Hugh Beaumont, who played the Dad on “Leave It to Beaver,” was the one

that my coworker, Mark, listed as his favorite. The different ways that influenced

his choice was first he liked that Beaver’s mother wore an apron, like his mother

did, daily. Also, that the father character hardly ever yelled, even under stressful

times.

3.  Tammy said the whole family in her household liked, “The Danny Thomas

Show.” I still like that Marlo Thomas was an independent woman, not hurrying

into marriage until she fell in love, in real life, with the talk show host, Phil

Donahue. I also personally enjoyed the fact she is a columnist in my “AARP

Magazine.” Tammy said she liked Danny Thomas, since he presented a few

shows, mentioning different cultures. I would have to check this out, but do

support and believe in St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Marlo has said that she

got her Dad’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which carries her through

tough times.

4.  Trevinal still remembers almost every show that “Family Matters” had

on television. He has found this to calm him, looking at Urkel’s silly dress

code, high water pants and his often expressed question, “Did I do that?”

The sense of humor and the family were something he admired and felt

that Urkel’s character was one that gave him confidence when he made

mistakes, throughout many of his years,  in life.

Trevinal’s words are very powerful, expressing this to me:

“Whenever Urkel goofed up, people would roll their eyes, sometimes

bellow at him, but always forgive him. That is how I wish to be when I

am a father.”

Reginald VelJohnson, who played the father in “Family Matters,” is

in one of my youngest daughter’s favorite shows, “Hart of Dixie.”

(Rachel Bilson and Tim Matheson play doctors on that country

setting show.)

Trevinal also noted that Urkel was a neighbor,  the family next door’s kid,

but he became part of the family and included, whether wanted there or not,

anyway.

5.  Keith told me, laughing, while lifting a box in the aerosol room, in what we

call the “Bomb Shelter,” that his favorite father character was Archie Bunker.

That show was called, “All in the Family,” where all sorts of issues popped up,

Archie sticking his neck out, saying all kinds of bigoted or prejudiced comments,

but usually backing down on them. Meeting people of all ethnicities, while they

were in an urban setting, with his wife being accepting, his daughter also very

open minded and often, Rob Reiner, playing “Meathead,” took the brunt of

Archie’s anger. I asked why he thought of this character? He told me, a little

bit sheepishly, that his own father was ‘backwards’ and ‘ignorant’ like Archie

had been. This made him become aware that there were other perspectives

on people. I appreciated Keith’s candor. He also added his parents were from

Kentucky! He added this with a laugh, like that explained everything!

He also said he respected the actor, Carroll O’Connor,  who had gone on to

play a cop, with a black partner, in the show, “The Heat of the Night.”

6.  My son, James, joked that he liked Homer Simpson, for the same reason

that Keith liked Archie Bunker. He said they were the ‘opposite of everything

he hoped for in a father.’ He also said that making mistakes for Homer, making

poor judgments, did make him feel more comfortable in his own parenting

skills.

7.  My oldest daughter said she liked Patrick Duffy, in the show, “Step by Step.”

She had a crush on him, from early days of watching, “Dallas,” and also had

a young ‘crush’ on Cody, the cousin who lives in a van in the driveway on this

sit-com. I liked it because Suzanne Somers was a hairdresser, average single

mother, who found a man with children to marry. I think the idea of stepkids,

appealed to me, also in ‘The Brady Bunch.”

When I mentioned my oldest daughter’s opinion, the men still were ‘hooting’

and ‘hollering,’ in a playful manner. They said she ‘made’ the show, “Three’s

Company,” and still looks great to this day.

8.  No one named, “Father Knows Best,” but all cited this as their 2nd and 3rd

choice of Best Television Father.

9. Charlene, whose young son, Ian, was in on my ‘Opinion Poll’ on Thursday,

had said she loved, “Wonder Years.” Since the mother character is on our

favorite soap opera, (Allie Mills), she remembered to point out she is good in

“The Bold and the Beautiful.” She also mentioned that the Dad on “Wonder

Years,” had to tackle difficult teen subject matter, since the boys grow up on

that show, from junior high through high school. I have to check out the dates,

be back to tell you the years: 1988 until 1993. The father’s character was

played by Dan Lauria. The couple who ended up taking the show into the

more mature theme included Danica McKellar and Fred Savage as “Winnie

Cooper,” and the kid next door, “Kevin Arnold.” In the Arnold family, the

mother stays home while the father worked. An interesting fact that I found

out was, Danica’s sister could have won the part of “Winnie,” the directors

say it was a ‘toss up’ between Danica and Crystal McKellar.

10. My mother loved the shows with Bill Bixby, including his role in “My

Favorite Martian” and “The Hulk.” But when I would come home from

junior high and high school, I would have the lights off, my Mom sitting

on one end of the sofa with her feet up on an ottoman, watching, “The

Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” When I overheard that song on the radio

and recently, on a commercial, I would almost “tear up.” Mom was much

more tired when I was that age, she would not volunteer to be coaches,

helpers or club counselors at Westlake High School. She would be the

chaperone, with my Dad by her side, for dances. That was as much energy

as she could ‘wrangle up,’ in her forties. I love Harry Nilsson’s song, the

memory of her sometimes lightly snoring, until the song would play

and she would sit up, watch and share those moments. My one brother

would be in track, (Spring), water boy in basketball, (Winter) or in

Cross Country, (Fall). This was ‘our time.’ The song began with these

words: “Let me tell you about my best friend,…” (The song includes

the father saying, “My pride and joy.”)

By the way, the jingles or songs for television would make an excellent

memorable post. When we were noticing the songs, we all agreed that

the piano playing and the off-key singing by Edith Bunker, played by

Jean Stapleton, was iconic: “Those Were the Days.”

That “Wonder Years” song, “I Get By With a Little Help From MyFriends,”

is legendary. We were nostalgic, reminiscent of family shows when there

weren’t as many choices on television and everyone’s family gathered together

to watch the shows. Even the commercials were memorable.

10.  The last contributor to this post on television fathers was my youngest

daughter’s suggestion of “Little House on the Prairie.” She enjoyed the setting

out West, through tough times, settling and learning how to live as a family

in a different time period had intrigued her.

She grew up watching this in reruns on Nickelodeon. This television

dramatic series ran from 1974 until 1983. (She was born in 1985.)

She reminded me that she read most of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books,

after I introduced them to her. She felt Michael Landon portrayed a

very charismatic and dynamic father. I am happy that she remembered

him in this role. (His personal life, somewhat like the much admired

Bing Crosby; left much to be desired. I feel the same about Eric Clapton,

Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Troubled, but still admired for their

personal talents and  the ‘body of their works.’)

What was your favorite television father?

Tony Came and Left Me Breathless

Standard

The 68th Tony Award Ceremony held plenty of outstanding, shining exhibits

that were thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Some name-dropping and

my overall impressions will ensue, if this is not your ‘cup of tea,’ don’t worry,

skipping this is totally understandable!

Hugh Jackman utilized comedy and hopped, literally, from one famous person

to another, on his path into the auditorium. He passed, “Sting” along the way.

He was one of a few that got singled out, in performances, since he ended up

sitting in the front row.

The scene shown from the musical, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”

was exhilarating and you would have enjoyed this trio. The man caught between

a blonde haired woman, who he would like to marry, and a brunette he enjoys her

company, standing in a hallway, leaning into one room to sing and then the other,

was quite amusing. Juggling two women, reminded me of the way Shakespeare’s

“Comedy of Errors, ” can bring the audience to roaring laughter.

From the audience, Tyne Daly, never looked more radiant. She has chin length

blonde toned white hair with her smile lighting up the room along with her golden

dress.

Set designs and costumes were all presented beautifully.

The man who played, “Genie” character in the musical, “Aladdin,” won and his

show-stopping performance on stage showed he truly earned “Best Supporting

Actor” in a musical production. He had the audience clapping to the song, giving

the rhythm and capturing the man’s enthusiastic energy.

The scene from “Cabaret,” was bawdy and well-choreographed. The image of Joel

Grey’s portrayal of the “Host” that ‘welcomes you’ to “Cabaret,” floats into my mind.

The actual line is done in German, so it is “Wilcommen…” In the reprisal of this

musical, Allan Cummings performed in the position of “Host,” on Broadway.

“Best Supporting Actress” was earned by an actress portraying a character in “The

Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo made a joke about her cultural heritage and ‘the

chance’ the director took on her being able to play an American woman in that

period. I have seen the movie and also, the play on stage. It was remade recently,

for a television version. Always a thought-provoking period piece that depicts a part

of American history.

The “Best Actress” Tony was given for the sixth time to the same woman, making

Audra McDonald a ‘record breaker.’ She was playing Billie Holliday, in “Lady Day

at Emerson’s Bar and Grille.” Her singing is effervescent and gives me chills. After

I listened to her singing, I feel she certainly deserved to take home “Tony.” I loved

the credits she gave to her family and the memorable female singers, actresses, and

poetess who came before her. This is the essence of Audra McDonald’s speech:

“Thank you to my parents who did not medicate me for being hyperactive, but

instead persuaded me to explore acting in the theatre. I give honor to the women

who I am standing on their shoulders: Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Dionne

Carrole, Ruby Dee and of course, the legend I was fortunate to portray, Billie

Holliday.”

The competition was thick for both the best actor and actress roles. The “Best

Actor in a Dramatic Play” went to Bryan Cranston. I predicted this one! So far,

this is the only one that I felt I knew ahead of time, I just ‘knew’ he would win,

if you have not seen a clip of his portrayal of LBJ in the play, “All the Way,” please

check him out! Awesome job and it is a fascinating piece of history, where he

had to take the Presidency, immediately after JFK was shot. He was the one

who should get a lot of credit, for getting the Civil Rights Bill passed, among

other great accomplishments. That Texan drawl that Bryan Cranston does

is very similar to the original.

Ru Paul, as a man, introduced “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” scene. He looks

great these days, he is one of the most famous trans-gender, cross-dressing

men in theater. Ru Paul says the play encompasses ‘love and acceptance’

for all choices in lifestyles. He has probably won a few awards in his lifetime.

This scene incorporated a pulsing, fast-paced rock ‘n roll beat, “Sugar Daddy,”

sung by Neil Patrick Harris, looking unrecognizable in his long blonde wig, his

short skirt, hose and tall pump shoes. N.P. Harris engaged actively with the

front row audience, taking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off and leaning into

Sting and then, bouncing on his lap!

Kenneth Brannaugh, the fine British Shakespearean actor, announced the

nominees for “Best Playwrights.” I liked Kenneth Brannaugh in the movie

leading role in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The dramatic play, “All the Way,” won for “Best Playwright.” The actual

play writer was not there to accept the award, so the two producers, including

Robert Shanken accepted it. He reminded the audience of the tense political

atmosphere in 1964. He called passing Civil Rights bill,” seemingly impossible”

and  gave his own personal summary of the way he felt about class structure:

“Those people who have more money take, at the expense of those who have

nothing and feel good about it.”

There was humor shown in the two plays that showed scenes from, “Casa

Valentina,” and “Mothers and Sons.”

Wayne Brady, comedian and also, improvisational artist, introduced, “Violet,”

with a riveting and rhythmic song, “As I Travel On.” It had the pulse and

emotions of the “Gone, gone, gone” song and the “Cups” song sung by Anna

Kendricks. This had a really ‘current’ sound to it, which would carry over

well on the radio. This led into a revival and rousing gospel song. The story

line is intriguing about a young woman, Violet, who has a disfigured face,

due to an accident, seeking a ‘miracle’ to help her with her face and life.

The scene from “Wicked,” which has the two sisters, Glinda the Good Witch

and the Wicked Witch singing a duet was quite touching. I had seen some

clips of the musical but truly had never heard the entire song before. It

is the ending song, “Because I Knew You,” which includes the line,

“I have been changed for the better”…. then after it has been sung several

verses later…”I have been changed for good.”

I read that huge volume called, “Wicked,” which I passed on to my oldest

daughter and she still takes it out and reads a chapter or two. It is longer

than almost any book that I have read, including, Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace.”

Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there is a LOT of story about the two

sisters, years in the making, until the happily ever after conclusion that has

this lovely song, with two excellent women singing it. The musical, “Wicked,”

celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Carole King came out and joined the singer, Jessie Mueller, who portrays her

younger self. I am very pleased to tell you that Carole King impressed me with

her “natural woman” look; her curly, blondish-white hair, her medium build

in a white silk blouse with black trim and black slacks. No plastic surgery, not

even sure her hair has dye in it. She looked amazing for her age! The musical

play, “Beautiful” incorporates Carole King’s life and her music.

She mentioned before her performance, that she did not go to the opening

nor was she ‘too crazy’ about seeing someone portray her.  She says the story

has heartbreak in it, which she was uncertain she wanted to ‘relive this.’She

finally did go to the theater and expressed gratitude for the way the play was

written, her character was portrayed and the presentation of the songs, too.

She highly recommends the musical, of course!

The best performance of the night, for me, was Carole King with Jessica

Mueller singing, “I Feel the Earth Move…(under my feet)” The audience all

stood up, clapped to the rhythm and several famous people were singing

along, their lips moving and showing smiling faces, too. Loved this so much!

(I still have my “Tapestry” music engraved in my head, too!)

A clever and playful rap from the revival of “The Music Man,” was first

introduced by Hugh Jackman. He could do it all from memory, he said and

it is to a fast beat, too. Then, out came LL Cool J and “T. I.” to join him,

turning it easily into a very groovy rap song. This was another timeless

musical, many high schools, across the country, Hugh Jackman reminded

us, put this play on their stages. It is the song about “River City.”

The song that Sting sang, “The Last Ship,” was eerie and haunting, with an

Irish melody. It is telling a mournful tale that includes these snippets of

words, “dark, unholy sight,’ ‘halo of light,’ ‘Calgary Hill,’ and ‘May angels

protect me when the last ship sails.’ Also, describing the ship, ‘mountains

of steel makes its way to the sea.’

This was one of my top three favorite performances. Sting’s ship song was my

second favorite and my third would have to be the rap between LL Cool J,

Hugh Jackman and “T. I.” playing “The Music Man.”

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama awarded it first Tony for an Arts educator.

This seemed appropriate since many of the acceptance speeches recalled the

teachers in drama, arts and music that had led them to seek their calling in

musical or dramatic theatre. One who had done this, Neil Patrick Harris said,

“When most people in my high school thought that sports were the way to

become popular, I had a special theater teacher, in New Mexico. For her, I

will always owe an extreme debt for her love of teaching and her love of drama.”

(He listed her name, if you look up speeches, I am sure you will find it out.)

Rosie O’ Donnell was recognized for her philanthropic donations to the Arts.

Best choreography went to “After Midnight.”

Best Orchestration went to “Bridges of Madison County.”

I enjoyed the scene with fighting from “Rocky” and the way, the actor yelled

out for “Adriane!” It was a very pleasant evening with the best times being when

I knew the songs and recognized the famous people in the audience.

Did anyone see the Tony’s Award Show?

What were some of your favorite moments?