October Fest was lively at The Creek. Live German musicians, beer, brats, kraut and more beer. Lots of fun for the filled to capacity clubhouse.
October was a busy month filled with activities, doctor appointments, hypnotic performance, Trick or Treating and the chicken dance in church. Yup. There was a viral post on Face Book of a woman hugging a chicken; a refreshing break from the dung slinging presidential politics. Our clever spiritual leader capitalized on the affectionate exchange between fowl and female; including the presence of a soft stuffed Henrietta the Hen to pass through the congregants to hold and hug. Naturally this led to the chicken dance.
Today, an email was forwarded to me that generated a lot of nostalgic flash backs for me. Unfortunately there is not a detectable link to share or credit to the unknown origination. It begins, in part by identifying the ‘Silent Generation,’ born in the 1930s and early 1940s. “We are the smallest number of children born since the early 1900s. We are the last ones.” Post WWI changes were first hand experiences for this group.
“The last of us (Silent Generation) was born in 1945, more than 99.9% of us are either retired or dead; all of us believe we grew up in the best of times!” I’m quoting and did not do any fact checking on that statistic. The ‘Silent Generation’ knows both time of apocalyptic war as well as a time when the world was secure and getting better…not worse.
My year of birth is 1950. I didn’t live through ration books or making fake butter but I do recall my grandmother and mom pouring fat and grease into tin cans. Saving tin foil for re-use, bread ties, bread bags and milk delivered on the front porch were routine occurrences – some habits that continued for years by the two generations before me.
The essay continues to mention how kids played outside. Growing up in the 50s, we played outside for hours on end. Jumping rope endlessly to sing-song stories about teddy bears turning around, doctor making house-calls and skipping to MaLou with Darling. We drew hop scotch diagrams with rocks; played soft ball with whoever we could convince to; hide n seek; ride bikes; roller skate; swing; read a book on a blanket in the grass under the shade of the large maple tree. After supper we caught and released (most of the time) lightening bugs.
At days end we would close the front door and lock it. If it happened to be a really hot day/night we might have left the door open along with all the windows. Our air conditioning consisted of cross breezes throughout the house and maybe a window fan. In winter months, we each took turns shoveling coal into the furnace and hoped that the fire would not extinguish itself before morning – it usually did.
Technically, I’m a Baby Boomer. I remember the dive under the desk drills at school; praying every morning Mass and every night at bedtime that the Russians would not bomb us. The bomb threat although abstract generated a sense of constant fear and danger. Bomb shelters were being built and marketed; I didn’t know anyone who actually owned one. My fear coupled with the influential indoctrination taught by the nuns kept me on the straight and arrow path of living without sin.
Like the Silent Generation, I remember the iron curtain, the cold war, Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the desk and people confined to iron lungs because of polio. I remember my first of the series of polio shots, thinking it was a good thing that my siblings and I wouldn’t get polio and be crippled or die from the mysterious virus.
I remember sitting on the porch swing watching cars go by; wondering if our dad would ever come home. Half of me wanted him to while the other half was frightened that if he did he would still be mean to Mom and us. Spoiler alert…he did return to the area 40 years later. Then died.
My world view was homogenized and quite narrow. The village was populated by predominately Catholic, French-Canadian descendants of the founding fathers. I was taught to believe that unless a soul/person was baptized Catholic, upon death their soul was destined to burn in Hell. It was really all I knew.
My mom was active in politics in as much as her state job depended on which party was in office. I remember knocking on doors with her. I wore a red, white and blue beanie declaring that “I Like Ike,” while handing out little buttons with the same slogan. Post card sized material for Ike and Adalai – Eisenhower and Stevenson. Eisenhower even visited our little town. School kids lined the streets as he drove by in an open car, waving and smiling.
High-school awakened my true sense of curiosity, questioning, doubting and change. Many of my class-mates were not Catholic. In short order, my world view opened up to include and become friends from a larger gene pool and of different religions. They were good, decent, kind people. I had been duped! I’m not sure how long it took me to trust “authority figures” again.
The community high-school served two towns. My eighth grade class graduated maybe 33 kids; my freshman class was over 300! There may have been a handful of “colored” kids in the school. One of them was my lab partner in Biology. Mildred was very nice and probably smarter than I; together we managed to earn a respectable grade. I invited her to my house to study a couple of times.
As the civil rights movements began, my world was still mostly white. It was strange to think and realize that segregation was still practiced in the southern states. I feel confident that had I been a little older I would have found a way to participate in the peace marches and human rights movements.
This election year has been the strangest one I recall. I do remember a few times casting my vote for the candidate I thought to be the lesser of two evils. Before I could vote, I recall the Kennedy/Nixon debates – the first to be televised. The pride I felt in the fact that we had the first Catholic POTUS! Then the loss of the Kennedy baby…and then the assassination of the young, Catholic President. Johnson being sworn in and the start of the Vietnam conflict. The increasing rise of lives lost.
In eight days, we will know who won this incredible mud-slinging fest. Things will change one way or another.
My patio needs to be painted. I plan to incorporated peace and other signs of unity on the floor; peace will always prevail in me and under my roof! That much I know.