Tag Archives: my childhood

Memory Lane: ‘Gadabout Gaddis’

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Remember this guy–Gadabout Gaddis, “the Flying Fisherman”? Well, I guess you’d have to be pretty old to remember him: late-night television, in the 1960s.

This was back when my brother and I got a black-and-white TV set for our room. Kowabunga! Wow! We could lie in bed and watch TV! A major step toward adulthood!

The wonderful thing about Gadabout Gaddis was that he was better than a bedtime story. It’s not that his show was boring. “Calming” would be a better word for it. Heck, we loved to go fishing. So here was a show all about fishing. What’s not to like? And if you were still awake after Gadabout’s half an hour of baiting hooks and reeling in trout, you might be lucky enough to catch I Search for Adventure with Col. John D. Craig, which was every bit as soothing. Somehow the “adventures” he showed–I think they might’ve been various tourists’ amateur films–were not exactly hair-raising. None of that stuff about being chased up the side of the Great Pyramid by murderous tomb-robbers. By then I was lucky if I was was still awake enough to turn the TV off. My brother, Mark, three years younger, had already gadded off to Dreamland.

There’s something to be said for TV that sands away the troubles of the day and packs you off to peaceful sleep.

P.S.–A friend of hours insisted Gadabout had divers underwater to put the fish on the hook for him; he never wound up with an empty creel. But then a fishing show hosted by a guy who didn’t catch anything–I don’t know if that would work. It might, though. Certainly a lot of people could identify with that.

 


‘I’m Not Writing Anything Today’ (2013)

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Just like the one Grandma had

This piece properly belongs with the Thanksgiving season; but I had a desire to pay a little tribute to my grandma, my mother’s mother.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/11/28/im-not-writing-anything-today/

I was only eleven when she died. Hers was the first funeral I ever went to. She went to bed one night and quietly passed away: no doctors, no hospital, no fuss. She’d raised six daughters in her time, plucked innumerable chickens (they had a chicken coop in the back yard: no one in this town has chickens today), and canned everything that Grandpa grew.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on her lap, fascinated, while she showed me how her sewing machine worked.

Yes, I still miss her.


My First Day of School

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Last night on Youtube we watched some people reminiscing about their first day of school. Well, that brings back memories!

We lived right next door to the school. My mother took me there the first day. And then, to my horror, she left me there. What was she thinking?

My first day in class I found both boring and stressful. Then I found out I couldn’t leave until they said so. What? You mean I’m stuck here?

The principal, my first two years, was Mr. Popke, an angel who loved children. He made the place bearable. He was succeeded by a smarmy character who excelled in tricking little kids into admitting to mischief they hadn’t actually done. He was succeeded by an angry crone who communicated by shrieking at you. It went downhill from there.

As for the teachers, my mother, father, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all way more interesting than any teachers. What did I ever learn in school that they couldn’t have taught me? Some of the teachers I had–well, the less said about them, the better. I was a homeschooling fan before I ever heard of homeschooling. There is very much to be said for children being taught by adults who know and love them.

Later on in grade school, I had the devil’s own time trying to learn how to add up a column of numbers. “Carrying” really stumped me. The teacher couldn’t solve it. My father sat down with me one evening after supper and taught me how to do it in twenty minutes.

And this was long before public education came to be all about sex, socialism, and detesting your country. It wasn’t toxic then. Just boring. I could have learned all the material a lot faster than I did, but the teaching was geared to accommodate the slower learners.

This was before the teachers’ unions sent delegations to places like Venezuela to praise the dictator and his socialist policies and then, upon their return, teach such piffle to the kiddies.

Public schooling is an idea whose time has come and gone. Long gone.


Memory Lane: Your Own Toy Organ

A line from an ancient commercial floated through my mind: Whee, whee, whee, whee, whee! It’s Emenee! Holy cow, what made me remember that? Emenee toy organs, vintage 1960s.

Suddenly everybody had one. We had one in our house, my aunts had one in theirs, and Uncle Bernie in his. Emenee made all kinds of musical instruments for kids, but was best known for the organs. The one in the video, the guy bought from Goodwill for a mere $12. Old as the hills, and still works.

When Patty and I were first married, we used to go to Walden Books in the Menlo Park Mall in search of scary novels. Right outside the bookstore was a display of organs suitable for the home. Whenever you went, you could count on somebody sitting at the biggest organ, playing “Blue Spanish Eyes.”

Were more people making more music, back then? I think they were. And nothing was digital yet, the personal computer was decades away. But you could have your own organ.


‘My Grandfather’s House is… Gone’ (2015)

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Why do we do this to ourselves–tear down the places of our lives, family places, and replace them with soul-less, lifeless, meaningless nail salons, trendy restaurants that won’t stay in business for six months, and condos that people will live in for just a year or two before they move on?

https://leeduigon.com/2015/05/19/my-grandfathers-house-is-gone/

It’s bound to make money for somebody. I suppose.

Virtually all the places of my childhood are gone, wiped out, not even left as history. Places we loved in our first years of marriage, they’re gone, too.

I can’t imagine how this can possibly be good for us.


The Invention of… Eyeglasses

Image result for images of 1352 painting showing monks wearing eyeglasses

From 1352–first painting of a monk using eyeglasses to read and write

I’ve worn glasses since I was a little boy, and I’d be lost without them. I didn’t know I was near-sighted: I didn’t know I should’ve been able to read the blackboard in school. They thought I was a bit stupid–until I had an eye test. Once I got my first pair of glasses, my grades improved, big-time. I’ll never forget riding home from the optician’s and being able to see everything that I couldn’t see on my way there.

But where did glasses come from? When were they invented? For how long did people like me have to muddle along without them?

Romans used glass globes filled with water to magnify print. The first glass “reading stones” were invented, by somebody, we don’t know who, around the year 1000 (http://www.glasseshistory.com/). In the 13th century, Venetian glass blowers started manufacturing them; and in 1284 the first paired reading stones in frames came into use for monks and craftsmen.

The first recognizable eyeglasses, in frames, appeared in a painting by Tommaso da Modena in 1352, when the artist depicted monks wearing them so they could study manuscripts. From then on, various inventors improved eyeglasses to benefit all kinds of vision problems.

Eyeglasses are one of the all-time great inventions. Imagine how much progress could not have been made without them!


Memory Lane: Red Salamanders

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Isn’t this just beautiful? The red salander, Pseudotriton ruber ruber–when I was a boy, you could find them in my neighborhood. That was before the political party that claims to be “for” the environment paved everything over.

My friends and I collected salamanders. The most common were the little redbacks. They were just about everywhere. But every now and then you’d find a red salamander–bright red, speckled with black, with a salmon-pink underbelly. Like living jewels.

I still look for salamanders, occasionally, but the only ones left are redbacks. There are no more gorgeous red salamanders around here. They had to go, to make way for nail salons and trendy restaurants. And now, high rise tenements. Makes our town more urban, dontcha know.

In the restitution of all things we shall see Creation as the Lord Our God created it. And I’m sure He won’t forget to include these salamanders.


Memory Lane: Knightly Model Kits

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Behold the Blue Knight of Milan, a plastic model from the 1950s. This one looks a lot better than mine did when I finished it; but all that detailed painting was beyond my little-boy skills. My knight was lucky he could stand up without leaning on a lamppost.

Model kits were big in our house. And my mother was big on knights in shining armor, King Arthur, Sir Lancelot–for which I give thanks to this day: that was good for me!

So I had the Blue Knight of Milan  (I had no idea where Milan was), with his battle-axe; and my brother had the Silver Knight of I don’t remember where–was it Oklahoma?–and the Silver Knight had a nice big sword.

And I got to thinking, “Gee, I’ll bet we could really cut things with that sword!” So I tried to.

Imagine my horror when the plastic sword wouldn’t cut the little string of yarn–but the yarn sawed right through the sword. I had to glue it back together: the old “they’ll never notice!” theory. My brother did notice and he was not amused–although he did understand the need for scientific investigations such as that. He just didn’t understand why it had to be his knight who was the subject of said investigation.

I’ll bet you can still get one of these old model kits on eBay. I wonder if kids today can enjoy such things. Assembling a model takes patience and attention. And it’s quiet. Can we still do patience and attention and quiet?


‘TV Heroes: Robin Hood’ (2017)

Image result for images of richard greene as robin hood

“Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen…”

How many of you used to sing that? How many of you are old enough to remember The Adventures of Robin Hood on TV? I’m here to tell you it was very big in the Bronze Age.

https://leeduigon.com/2017/01/28/tv-heroes-robin-hood/

I don’t watch TV anymore, I don’t know if there are any shows like this. It’s mostly superheroes and animation, right? Have kids today even heard of Robin Hood?

Great theme song, though…


Memory Lane: Build Your Own Birds

Don’t be fooled by these unprepossessing little pieces of plastic. Sure, it looks like the easiest model in the world to assemble. But wait, there’s more!

This is the parakeet from Bachmann Birds of the World, vintage 1959. And if you can do a good job of following the instructions for hand-painting it… voila! See the source image

I kept my finished model parakeet at Grammy’s house–mine was painted blue and white instead of green and yellow–and it never failed to turn heads, sitting on its perch in the living room. It was very realistic!

I kept my scarlet tanager at home. There were many birds in this series, but I didn’t get into collecting them. I sorta wish I had, though.

Toys for kids, featuring the development of manual skills, learning to follow directions, and patience in working toward a goal–yeah, tell me you can get that with “Zombie Apocalypse.”

 


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