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Redux: Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

I found this post among those relegated to the dustbin of previous posts. I enjoyed it so much that I rescued it, dusted it off, added some images and now I am presenting it to those that may have missed it back in March 0f 2010. I confess that I did not create the original, but I can say, without a tinge of blushing, that I improved it before offering it up on my blog. I explained all that in the original post, and included a disclaimer concerning my additions to the original—read on, and enjoy.

Today’s youth vs yesterday’s

A special note: All the italicized passages in this posting are my thoughts—they are separate from the original e-mail, but some of the un-italicized passages in the posting are mine—see my disclaimer below.

I received this item in an e-mail from a friend, and I felt it was well worth posting on Word Press. As always, the e-mail contained faults caused by its wandering around the internet and also as always, at least almost always—well, let’s say sometimes—the writing was seriously in need of attention.

With the most honorable intentions of making good writing better—the best, actually—I took the liberty of tidying up the e-mail. For starters, I removed an estimated total of 250 exclamation points. I did not actually count them, so my estimate may have been a tad high, but there was a huge bunch of exclamation points. It appeared that the keyboard had a mind of its own, and for whatever reason it sprinkled a plethora of exclamation points that appeared randomly throughout the e-mail.

The original teller of this tale vacillated among first, second and third person perspectives so I corrected it. The story is now told by a person aged 30 years or more and directed to persons that have accumulated fewer than thirty years of age. It is specifically directed to the youth of today.

A disclaimer: I must now, in the interests of full disclosure, admit that my efforts to improve this posting were not restricted to exclamation point removal. No, I added my own thoughts here and there—mostly there—adding or taking away as I saw fit, and I can state, unblushingly, that my contributions, whether they involved addition or subtraction, improved the missive in a literary sense and added significantly to the plentiful humor evinced in the original e-mail.

Hey, it’s an internet e-mail—it’s not copyrighted. It came to me unbidden and now it’s mine—I can massage it and manipulate it anyway I desire. I consider it comparable to a whole banana tossed from a speeding auto. It may be a bit the worse from its contact with asphalt, earth and the prickly pear bush in which it landed, but if it isn’t peeled—if its skin is unbroken—one may retrieve it, peel it and consume it with no fear of lessened gustatory effects or legal retribution. In that vein, I cheerfully yield to viewers that may wish to interpose their own thoughts.

Here I will apply a phrase often used, in some respects too often, by Sean Hannity on Fox News, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

And now on to the posting—the original e-mail was untitled, so I seized the opportunity to title it:

Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

If you are 30 or older, you should find this hilarious:

When I was a kid, adults bored me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning—uphill—barefoot—both ways, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in you know where that I would lay a bunch of stuff like that on my kids about how hard I had it then and how easy they have it now. However, now that I’m past the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t resist looking around at the youth of today. They have it so easy. Compared to my childhood years, theirs are Utopian in every respect.

I hate to say it, but you kids today? You have no idea how good you have it.

When we were kids we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves—in the card catalog.

There was no email. We had to write a letter by applying a pen or pencil to a piece of paper. We then folded the paper and secured it in a paper enclosure known as an envelope, and we sealed the envelope by licking the sticky side of its flap, and then we licked a postage stamp of the proper denomination and placed it on the envelope, and then we had to walk all the way to the sidewalk to put it in the mailbox and raise the flag, and it would take a week or more to get there and another week or more to get an answer.

Nowadays envelopes are pre-licked. In the unlikely event that you need to write a letter, you simply remove the safety strip and press the flap to seal the envelope—after first placing the letter in the envelope, of course.

Today’s postage stamps are also pre-licked. You only need to peel the stamp from its backing and affix it to the upper right corner of the envelope. We consider those advances—from licking envelopes and stamps to the present pre-licked systems—high tech.

Child Protective Services was unborn, and nobody cared if our parents beat us. In fact, the parents of our friends had permission to also kick our butts.

No place was safe.

There were no MP3s or Napsters or iTunes—if we wanted to steal music, we had to hitchhike to the nearest record store and shoplift it.

Either that or we had to wait around all day to tape it from the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw up the recording. There were no CD players—we had 8-track tape decks in our cars. We would play our favorite tape and eject it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. But hey, that’s how we rolled, baby—can you dig it?

We didn’t have fancy stuff like Call Waiting. If we were on the phone and someone else called, they heard a busy signal—that was it.

And we had no cell phones. If we left the house we could neither make a call nor receive one. We actually had to be out of touch with our friends. Oh, my, God—think of the horror of not being in touch with someone 24/7.

And today there’s texting—you kids have no idea how much you annoy us with your damn texting.

And we had no fancy Caller ID either. When the phone rang we had no idea who was calling—it could be our school, our parents, our boss, our bookie, our drug dealer or a collection agent—we had no way of knowing. We had to pick up the phone—the one tethered to the wall—and take our chances.

We had no fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high resolution 3-D graphics—we had the Atari 2600 with games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids. Our screen guy was a little square, and we actually had to use our imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens—we had only one screen—forever! And we could never win. The games just kept getting harder and faster until we died—very similar to the game of life.

We had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on television, and we were screwed when it came to channel surfing. Remote controls had not yet been invented—in the good old days we had to get off our collective butts and walk over to the TV to change the channel.

I can hear it now: No remotes? No REMOTES? Oh, no, that’s impossible.

And we had no Cartoon Network—we could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait all week for cartoons, you spoiled little rat finks.

And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove—imagine that.

And our parents told us to stay outside and play—all day long and far into the evening. No, we had no electronics to soothe and comfort us, and if we came back inside we were forced to do chores.

As for car seats—oh, please—our moms threw us into the back seat and we hung on. If we were lucky we got the old safety arm across the chest at the last second if a sudden stop was required, and if we were in the front seat and our head hit the dashboard—well, that was our fault for riding shotgun in the first place.

Do you see it?

Can you dig it?

That’s what I’m talking about—you kids today have it far too easy. You’re spoiled rotten. You guys would not last five minutes in our day or at any time before our day.

Best regards,

The Over 30 Crowd

Time is a gift given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life—Norton Juster.

 
 

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19th Street South and mumps for Christmas . . .

Christmas morning dawned clear and bright in my town in 1939. I was seven years old that year, an adventurous second-grader that had wished for a cowboy outfit from the Sears catalog, one complete with a gun belt hosting rows of silver bullets and two guns in their holsters, tied down at mid-thigh to facilitate quick draws, sheepskin chaps, a colorful bandana, genuine imitation leather cowboy boots and a genuine high-crowned western sombrero that would shield me from the heat of the western sun and serve as a tool to beat dust from my clothing after an arduous trail drive of cattle to the rail head for shipment to the hordes of people in Chicago longing for western beef and also serve as a drinking vessel for my horse as shown in Hollywood movies.

Evidently Santa was unaware of my wish, or else he mistakenly gave my cowboy outfit to some other kid. Instead I got a drum and a toy train and mumps. Yep, mumps—I awoke Christmas morning with a headache and two serious lumps, one behind each ear. I don’t remember going to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. In those days mumps, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox and a host of other childhood diseases were diagnosed by elder family members, relatives, friends and neighbors. Given the fact that I was at one time or another afflicted with most of those conditions and survived, that system apparently worked, at least in my case.

Each of my two gifts had problems. The drum arrived sans drum sticks. We searched frantically through the discarded Christmas wrappings and boxes but found no drum sticks, not even one.

I improvised with a pair of kitchen spoons, but the substitutes lacked any semblance of authenticity. When I wielded those spoons I neither felt like nor looked like Gene Krupa or Spike Jones—I felt like a dork and looked like a dork. Or perhaps I did look like Spike Jones—that’s Spike on the left, the one with the dorky hat.

Now on to my train and its deficits—it consisted of a really small locomotive with a coal tender, one passenger car, a little red caboose and a rather truncated circular track, one estimated to be no more than 18 inches in diameter. The locomotive was not powered by electricity, not the plug-in kind or the kind produced by dry-cell batteries—nope, not my train.

My train was a windup train—one held the locomotive in one hand and with one’s other hand wound up a steel spring that was inside with a key that projected from its side, similar to opening a can of sardines,  then one placed it on the tracks and released it and clickety clack, clickety clack, until the spring wound down. Clickety clack is the sound that real trains made in those days as they traversed narrowly spaced rail joints,but my train never made that sound.

Nope, no clickety clacks for my train—the key was already wound tight and could not be budged. It arrived tight and remained in that condition as long as I had the train. I was reduced to pushing it along and vocally sounding the clickety clacks. Bummer!

Nowadays train rails run seamless for a mile or more—passengers still hear an occasional clickety but the clack is still a mile away. The rhythm is gone—rather than lulling one to sleep, the anticipation of the next clickety and clack denies fulfillment to passengers longing for and reaching for the arms of Morpheus—the unrhythmic sounds of modern rails actually prevent sleep. Note: Unrhythmic may not be a real word, but it looks good and sounds good so I’ll use it.

I spent the Christmas of 1939 incarcerated in my own home, playing a drum with two kitchen spoons and pushing a toy train around a small circular track, writhing in pain produced by an extreme case of double mumps—not really—I had no pain at all, just lumps, and they vanished a few days later.

In retrospect, I suppose I should feel blessed. While I was housebound with mumps—double mumps, so to speak—I heard a phrase several times, whispered between the adults in my family, something similar to this: I hope they don’t go down on him. It sounded so sinister that I also hoped that they would not go down on me—they didn’t. Fast forwarding to today’s medical terminology, I imagine that parents probably whisper to one another that they hope the mumps will not descend—sounds a bit better, right? Right? Right!

That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking to it!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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How to pull and shuck corn and earn $4.00 . . .

Everyone knows that corn grows on stalks. The stalks grow tall, often even taller than some of our NBA players, and with good growing conditions produce numerous ears of corn. I imagine that the term ears is used because each ear grows angled upward on the perpendicular stalk at about 45 degrees, somewhat similar to our ears. Ears of corn that are removed while still green are harvested for the purpose of roasting, and are therefore referred to as roasting ears. Country folks in my era called them rosnears, a useful contraction of roasting ears that allows more words in a sentence, whether written or spoken. Many country folks still use that contraction.

An ear of corn, as removed from the stalk, is completely covered with overlapping leaves. That covering is called a corn shuck, or simply a shuck. Rosnears are roasted in their shucks. When done, the shuck is removed, butter and salt if desired are added to the ear of cornand I do desire butter and saltand the corn is eaten directly from the cob. The cob is the cylindrical core of the ear of corn, the part to which the kernels of corn are attached. The eating process is referred to as eating corn on the cob—I’ve always felt that it would more properly be called eating corn off the cob. In either case the taste is heavenly and the process is devilishly messy—one should keep a napkin close at hand while eating corn on the cob—or off the cob, as the case may be.

And just in case anyone wonders about the origin of the term rough as a cob. When dried corn is shelled from the cob, the small depressions left by the kernels being removed leaves the cob rough to the touch. Way back in the dim mists of antiquity, in a time when folks had limited access to manufactured toilet tissue, various substitutes were used—magazine pages, Sears Roebuck catalog pages, old letters and envelopes, outdated calendars, straw, oak leaves or whatever could be found in a time of need. Dried corn cobs were in plentiful supply following the corn harvest, and I am witness to the fact that rough as a cob is as accurately definitive as a definition can get.

Ah, those were the days!

Allow me to digress for a moment: I have gone into considerable detail so far in this posting. The reason is because legions of people in our country, particularly younger generations, have no idea how corn is grown, harvested, prepared and cooked, nor do they know the terminology of the various uses of corn. Their knowledge is often restricted to the purchase and ingestion of popcorn in our movie theaters. In addition to the ridiculous cost of tickets to the movies, movie goers pay ridiculous prices for the popcorn, and the beat goes on.

And trust me—not even one in a thousand of today’s youngsters know the origin of rough as a cob. Perhaps this posting will spread the word, so to speak, and let younger generations know that old times were not romantic at all times.

For purposes other than roasting ears, corn is allowed to remain on the stalk until the green stalks and shucks turn brown, and then the corn is harvested by giant machines that harvest multiple rows at the same time. It hasn’t always been that way—before the invention and use of such harvesters, each ear of corn was pulled from the stalk by hand. A sharp pull downward at the correct angle would snap the ear off at the stalk.

I can speak with authority because I’ve done it—ear by ear, stalk by stalk, row by row, hour after hour and day after day until the field was stripped. The hand pulled ears were dropped on the ground between the rows and later loaded on a skid for movement to the barn for storage. Yes, Virginia, a skid—a primitive conveyance fitted with runners similar to those of a sled. A skid was a flat wooden platform mounted on wooden runners, with sides forming a box to contain such items as corn, or any other items that needed to be transported in bulk. The skid was powered by a mule, a tall long-eared beast of burden with a sour disposition and a proclivity to bite, depending on its mood and the task with which it was confronted.

Let’s see—I’ve covered pulling corn, so now on to shucking corn. This is easily done—one needs grasp the ear near the stem with one hand, then start peeling the leaves of the shuck downwards with the other hand, and when the leaves are all pulled away from the ear, simply snap the stem to separate the shuck from the ear of corn. Got it?

And finally, on to the tale of the four dollars I earned by shucking corn. Christmas was near, and I needed money to buy presents for my mother and my sister. One of my aunts that lived on a farm nearby asked me if I wanted to earn some money. I answered in the affirmative, but made a serious mistake by not inquiring into what my efforts would earn. The job turned out to be corn shucking—removing the shucks to prepare the corn to be milled—ground—into corn meal.

Picture this: Two farm wagons were loaded with corn to be shucked, rounded in the center to a level a bit higher than the sides of the wagon box. Each wagon box measured approximately four by ten by one foot deep. A quick computation of length x width x depth shows that each wagon had forty cubic feet of corn, a total of eighty cubic feet for both wagons. I was paid a whopping total of four dollars for a full two long days work. I worked without gloves, so by the time I finished I had blisters on top of my blisters. I did not question my pay or grumble about it, at least not out loud. I reasoned rightly that I now had four dollars where before I had no dollars—I took the four ones, gave thanks to my aunt and left to find some cool water for my hands.

That’s it—I’ve covered the three subjects in the title of How to pull and shuck corn and earn $4.oo, so I’ll close this posting.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Childhood, Family, Gardening, Humor, Travel

 

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Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

A special note: All the italicized passages in this posting are my thoughts—they are separate from the original e-mail, but some of the un-italicized passages in the posting are mine—see my disclaimer below.

I received this item in an e-mail from a friend, and I felt it was well worth posting on Word Press. As always, the e-mail contained faults caused by its wandering around the internet and also as always, at least almost always—well, let’s say sometimes—the writing was seriously in need of attention.

With the most honorable intentions of making good writing better—the best, actually—I took the liberty of tidying up the e-mail. For starters, I removed an estimated total of 250 exclamation points. I did not actually count them, so my estimate may have been a tad high, but there was a huge bunch of exclamation points. It appeared that the keyboard had a mind of its own, and for whatever reason it sprinkled a plethora of exclamation points that appeared randomly throughout the e-mail.

The original teller of this tale vacillated among first, second and third person perspectives so I corrected it. The story is now told by a person aged 30 years or more and directed to persons that have accumulated fewer than thirty years of age. It is specifically directed to the youth of today.

A disclaimer: I must now, in the interests of full disclosure, admit that my efforts to improve this posting were not restricted to exclamation point removal. No, I added my own thoughts here and there—mostly there—adding or taking away as I saw fit, and I can state, unblushingly, that my contributions, whether they involved addition or subtraction, improved the missive in a literary sense and added significantly to the plentiful humor evinced in the original e-mail.

Hey, it’s an internet e-mail—it’s not copyrighted. It came to me unbidden and now it’s mine—I can massage it and manipulate it anyway I desire. I consider it comparable to a whole banana tossed from a speeding auto. It may be a bit the worse from its contact with asphalt, earth and the prickly pear bush in which it landed, but if it isn’t peeled—if its skin is unbroken—one may retrieve it, peel it and consume it with no fear of lessened gustatory effects or legal retribution. In that vein, I cheerfully yield to viewers that may wish to interpose their own thoughts.

Here I will apply a phrase often used, in some respects too often, by Sean Hannity on Fox News, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

And now on to the posting—the original e-mail was untitled, so I seized the opportunity to title it:

Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .

If you are 30 or older, you should find this hilarious:

When I was a kid, adults bored me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning—uphill—barefoot—both ways, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in you know where that I would lay a bunch of stuff like that on my kids about how hard I had it then and how easy they have it now. However, now that I’m past the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t resist looking around at the youth of today. They have it so easy. Compared to my childhood years, theirs are Utopian in every respect.

I hate to say it, but you kids today? You have no idea how good you have it.

When we were kids we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves—in the card catalog.

There was no email. We had to write a letter by applying a pen or pencil to a piece of paper. We then folded the paper and secured it in a paper enclosure known as an envelope, and we sealed the envelope by licking the sticky side of its flap, and then we licked a postage stamp of the proper denomination and placed it on the envelope, and then we had to walk all the way to the sidewalk to put it in the mailbox and raise the flag, and it would take a week or more to get there and another week or more to get an answer.

Nowadays envelopes are pre-licked. In the unlikely event that you need to write a letter, you simply remove the safety strip and press the flap to seal the envelope—after first placing the letter in the envelope, of course.

Today’s postage stamps are also pre-licked. You only need to peel the stamp from its backing and affix it to the upper right corner of the envelope. We consider those advances—from licking envelopes and stamps to the present pre-licked systems—high tech.

Child Protective Services was unborn, and nobody cared if our parents beat us. In fact, the parents of our friends had permission to also kick our butts.

No place was safe.

There were no MP3s or Napsters or iTunes—if we wanted to steal music, we had to hitchhike to the nearest record store and shoplift it.

Either that or we had to wait around all day to tape it from the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw up the recording. There were no CD players—we had 8-track tape decks in our cars. We would play our favorite tape and eject it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. But hey, that’s how we rolled, baby—can you dig it?

We didn’t have fancy stuff like Call Waiting. If we were on the phone and someone else called, they heard a busy signal—that was it.

And we had no cell phones. If we left the house we could neither make a call nor receive one. We actually had to be out of touch with our friends. Oh, my, God—think of the horror of not being in touch with someone 24/7.

And today there’s texting—you kids have no idea how much you annoy us with your damn texting.

And we had no fancy Caller ID either. When the phone rang we had no idea who was calling—it could be our school, our parents, our boss, our bookie, our drug dealer or a collection agent—we had no way of knowing. We had to pick up the phone—the one tethered to the wall—and take our chances.

We had no fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high resolution 3-D graphics—we had the Atari 2600 with games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids. Our screen guy was a little square, and we actually had to use our imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens—we had only one screen—forever! And we could never win. The games just kept getting harder and faster until we died—very similar to the game of life.

We had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on television, and we were screwed when it came to channel surfing. Remote controls had not yet been invented—in the good old days we had to get off our collective butts and walk over to the TV to change the channel.

I can hear it now: No remotes? No REMOTES? Oh, no, that’s impossible.

And we had no Cartoon Network—we could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait all week for cartoons, you spoiled little rat finks.

And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove—imagine that.

And our parents told us to stay outside and play—all day long and far into the evening. No, we had no electronics to soothe and comfort us, and if we came back inside we were forced to do chores.

As for car seats—oh, please—our moms threw us into the back seat and we hung on. If we were lucky we got the old safety arm across the chest at the last second if a sudden stop was required, and if we were in the front seat and our head hit the dashboard—well, that was our fault for riding shotgun in the first place.

Do you see it?

Can you dig it?

That’s what I’m talking about—you kids today have it far too easy. You’re spoiled rotten. You guys would not last five minutes in our day or at any time before our day.

Best regards,

The Over 30 Crowd

Time is a gift given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life—Norton Juster.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Et al . . .

A special note from the writer to the reader: Please be forewarned—I wrote this story with my tongue pouched firmly in my cheek. The dictionary defines tongue-in-cheek speech and writing as “Ironic, slyly humorous; not meant to be taken seriously.

From Wikipedia:

et al, a Latin abbreviation meaning “and others” (‘et al.’ is used as an abbreviation of `et alii’ (masculine plural) or `et aliae’ (feminine plural) or `et alia’ (neuter plural) when referring to a number of people); “the data reported by Smith et al.”

The family that I will introduce to you in this posting would not know a Latin term from a monkey’s rash, but you will soon learn that the family is closely related—to the Latin term, not to the monkey.

The aforementioned family lives and reproduces in a mountainous region somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. It is an extended long-lived family that includes members from several generations, members ranging from great grandparents to great grandchildren, all crowded under the same roof.

For many years the family enjoyed the companionship of a beloved pet, a lady pig reared from its piglet status to adult pighood. She had a sparkling personality, and readily responded to the name Al, a diminutive term for Alberta. Al’s name was diminutive but she was not—she tipped the scales at 1,000 pounds, and for many years was awarded the title of Healthiest and Heaviest Hog at the state’s annual Hog Festival—she was much larger even than Godzilla, an Alabama boar hog pictured at right (you will note that Godzilla is now deceased).

The family’s rationale for naming their pet Alberta is unknown, but it’s doubtful that it came from any sort of written material, unless from can labels or printed feed sacks—most of the family was neither inclined nor capable of deciphering literary symbols—in fact, the only printed material to be found in the home, other than can labels, seed catalogs and printed feed sacks was the Sears catalog, delivered to the family annually by a postal worker leading a mule. The mule carried the mail while the postman walked, but following the last delivery the worker was authorized to ride, if he so desired.

Note: I have walked and I have ridden mules—astride—and I would much rather walk.

One more thought concerning the name Alberta—one may reasonably surmise that the home may have housed one or more immigrants, legal or otherwise, from Italy or Spain, or perhaps from Mexico, Central America or South America, all locations with considerable numbers of Spanish-speaking people, hence the name Alberta, the feminine form of Alberto.

The Sears catalog, a thick periodical comprised of thousands of smooth and very slick pages with thousands of pictorial images, was handled so much by everyone, including the very young and the very old, that the pages were softened by its constant use, especially in the section that presented images of underwear-clad models of both sexes.

Each year, in a time-honored practice initiated immediately following the delivery of the new catalog, the previous year’s publication was exported to a small house located a few yards to the rear of the big house, to be used for a secondary purpose—although very few members of the family could read, some wag had posted a crudely lettered sign in the little house behind the house that read, “Blot, do not rub,” a reference, perhaps, to the catalog’s remarkably smooth pages.

Please forgive me. I have inadvertently digressed from my original purpose, that of telling the story of the family’s beloved pet, a tremendously talented pig named Alberta—Al for short.

Now to continue the saga of Al:

Al lived with one of the family’s grandmothers—a kindly woman, an Aunt Bea type that cheerfully welcomed all visitors that came to see her highly talented pet perform. Al was a very intelligent pig and very light on her feet— she could, on cue, perform various tricks including dancing wildly on her back legs to tunes played by one of the younger boys in the family. That worthy was a lad that never did well at his studies—fact never entered a schoolroom, but he was a music maestro with a banjo in his hands. Oh, and Al also did a remarkable imitation of the belly dance performed by Little Egypt in1893 at the Egyptian Theater on the World’s Columbian Exposition Midway in Chicago (pictured at right).

In addition to her dancing abilities, Al could also emit a staccato series of grunts and squeals that were easily identifiable as the tune of The Star Spangled Banner. People came from far and wide—over the river and through the trees, to grandma’s house they came—just to hear Al sing our national anthem. The highlight of Al’s performance was when she hit the high notes in the final stanza, the part that goes, ” . . . o’er the land of the free . . .” When she inhaled deeply and then squealed out the word free, thunderous applause erupted, with the audience according recognition and appreciation for a performance that would equal or surpass the applause for any rendition of the song at major league baseball games.

The family prospered for many years, but in time the area fell on hard times, a deep economic depression that required them to forage for sustenance over a wide range. They had a plentiful supply of poke salad, a type of green made from pokeweed, a plant that grows wild over a wide range. When properly prepared, pokeweed is a palatable and digestible green, similar to turnip greens and spinach. However, preparation must be meticulous because, if not properly prepared, the weed is poisonous—it has the ability and proclivity to kill a person soon after its ingestion. The images on the right show the living plant and a woman preparing a meal that includes poke salad—ummm, looks tasty!

Not long after the depression hit, visitors seeking entertainment from the family’s beloved pet were told that the pig was not available. On questioning Al’s whereabouts, they were first briefed about the hard times on which the family had fallen, with emphasis on its inability to adequately nourish the children, primarily because poke salad did not furnish the protein necessary for survival. So in answer to the question, the grandmother would furnish a prepared answer, one couched in the form of a poem:

“Our young’uns was hungry,

And we was too,

So we done the only thang

That we knowed to do.

We et Al!

We et everthang ‘cept her squeal, and we shore do miss ‘er!”

Please don’t laugh—this is a true story, as told to me by the banjo-playing boy from Deliverance, a great movie that starred Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty—if you can find it on VHS or DVD, check it out—it’s well worth the watch!

In an odd way this posting is related to the movie, because in one scene the script called for Ned Beatty to squeal like a pig—Ned squealed beautifully, so well that he was awarded Hollywood’s Oscar for Best Squeal of the Year. The award could better have been titled Best Squeal Ever.

And just in case that a reader of this posting—any reader—really believes this is a true story, as told to me by the young banjo picker in that movie, I stand ready to offer that reader a fantastic deal on some ocean-front property near Flagstaff, Arizona—I’m reasonably certain that we can come to an agreement on the price.

Just one more thought, a word of precaution to anyone that harbors thoughts of using the poem above for mercenary purposes—the poem that reveals the fate of the fair Alberta. The poem is my creation, given birth by me. It should be obvious to any viewer that I expended a considerable amount of my time, talent and energy in its creation, and the fruits of my labor should not be harvested by others. Beware—the poem has been properly copyrighted and made a matter of record in all the appropriate venues.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



 
 

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