Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Use your head for some thing else besides a hat rack!


I am not used to the cold. Of course I am sitting outside typing in 50 degree weather.

My friend brought home a sweat suit on sale for $3. It's miles too big for me, but I have a string holding up the pants and when my hands are cold, the sleeves are plenty long to pull down over my hands. Of course this hampers typing, something I am terrible at anyhow. Having my "N" be sticky and refuse to print much of the time, is also frustrating.

I am quickly discovering how many words, minus their "N" turn into new words, so my spell heckler glides right over them.

I type on a shaky portable table, what we used to call TV trays in the 60's. I use my feet to hold the uncertain table in place. I think TV trays were invented sometime after TV's became ubiquitous inmost all American homes. The idea was you could make these new-fangled frozen dinners, which were also called TV-Dinners, serve them on your TV-trays and the family could all eat in front of the TV.

Many of the TV-trays were actually metal, shaped like a tray, with a lip around the edge, thus you could pop it onto the flimsy folding legs. The TV-trays could then be folded up and stored away between uses.

Growing up, we always sat at our dining table every day for breakfast, 7 days a week and ditto for evening dinner. Tardiness was not allowed and neither were excuses. We said grace and all began eating at the same time. My mother cooked one meal for all and no one was allowed any deviation from the served meal. We had to eat what was on our plates and not dare to grumble about it. We went out to eat ONCE a month, on communion Sunday, after church, and it was considered a huge treat. The only time I recall eating in front of the TV was if we were terribly sick and home from school. If we could struggle out of bed, in our pajamas, robe and slippers and creep into the den, we were allowed to make our sick bed on the sofa, which converted to a twin bed anyhow.

The black and white TV, which had a rounded screen, only got one station clearly and two others kind of fuzzy. You could set the volume and it STAYED at that volume, even if you shifted channels and even when the commercials came on. You had to get up and walk across the room to change channels or to change the volume, which we rarely needed to change since it stayed at the preset volume. What ever happened to THOSE days?
Now you have TV's that control the volume for you, the commercials are super loud, if you change channels, the next channel might be substantially louder or softer. It seems playing with the volume buttons now requires more work than changing the channels. For some silly reason today's TV's show you a visual aid when changing the volume up or down (is that in case you are deaf?)

Back in the dark ages, we used metal V-shaped antennas to tune in the stations and they were called rabbit ears. Sometimes we adorned them with bits of aluminum or tin foil, to attempt better reception. The well to do folks had big fancy antennas on their roofs that were typically rectangles with perpendicular bits of metal to pick up reception. My family was never that well off to afford such a luxury.

In the summer, the ONE fan we owned was carefully removed from the attic and placed in a window. It was expected to cool the whole house and we weren't allowed to complain about the heat one bit. If the sun was out, the TV was off and that was pretty much a strict house rule. Mama thought children should be out playing in the sunshine, not cooped up inside staring at the idiot box.

Thus, we knew all our neighbors, their names, how many and what type of pets they had, and all the names of their pets. Dogs were allowed to roam freely, but typically followed "their children" around. Your dog better be well behaved or you would hear about it from the neighbors. We taught our dog numerous tricks and he learned a great trick on his own. It's a shame we didn't have video cameras then, as filming him would have been such fun. The trick he taught himself was to say "hare-woe" when ever we came home, as he bowed down to greet us. It was his way of saying "hello" and we were extremely proud to own such an intelligent dog.

Besides the usual tricks, he learned to lay on his back with all four feet in the air and close his eyes, hang his long pink tongue out the side of his mouth, and play dead on command. We would say "Doggy's dead! Doggy's dead! Poor wittle doggy!" Throughout all this he was lay motionless, being completely dead like. Next we would pretend to cry about our poor wittle doggy being dead and he would immediately leap to his feet and greet us. We would joyfully recite "He's alive! He's alive!" As children, we often said things twice. Later in life, I met a man who was often drunk, who said things three times. Having a conversation with him was a case of deja vu as he repeated himself three times, sometimes four, if he lost count in his inebriated conversation.

In spite of the fact that our TV only got three channels, our mother carefully monitored what we were allowed to watch and when. Typically our homework had to be done before we could go anywhere near the TV and we might be assigned a list of chores before turning it on anyhow. We weren't even allowed to turn it on to see what was playing. We had to check the newspaper TV listings and consult with our mom about a proposed show we might want to watch and she would decide if we could watch it or not.

She often thought of other things we could do, such as chores, or go outside to play, or play or game or read a book. She never liked to hear any of us say "We are bored" and if we did she quickly admonished us to "Go read a book!"

If we did some thing particularly foolish or stupid, she was also fond of saying "Use your head for some thing else besides a hat rack!"

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