Ask it a question, it’ll tell you no lies! That’s because it can’t, but never mind: it’s the Magic 8-Ball, invented in 1950 and still going strong.
My cousins and I had enormously good times with their Magic 8-Ball, asking embarrassing questions about each other and getting embarrassing answers. “Is Joanne in love with that creepy guy down the street?” “It is certain.” You get the idea.
I’m more than a little surprised that no one has trotted out the Magic 8-Ball to prognosticate this year’s political contests. Think of the money they’d save, just asking the 8-Ball. “Is Joe Biden all there?” “Please concentrate and ask again.” “Do those people on CNN ever tell the truth?” “Certainly not!”
In fact, it’d be instructive to compare the Magic 8-Ball to the various TV nooze analysts, scoring them for accuracy. I dare you to do it, MSNBC. Triple-dog dare you!
When I was ten or 11 years old, somewhere around there, my mother bought my brother and me these little fedoras to wear to Sunday school.
How I loathed that hat! Most men wore them, back then. Our family doctor had one, which I tossed into the toilet when he wasn’t looking. And now I had one. A fleeting glance at the mirror convinced me that I looked like a total yink.
How many times did I leave it in the cloakroom and emerge from Sunday school without it, claiming it had mysteriously disappeared? My father always made me go back in and get it. I left it in the kids’ cloakroom, in the adults’ cloakroom. Even left it in the church’s kitchen once.
After several dozen attempts to ditch the hat, it finally dawned on my parents that I just simply couldn’t stand it. I don’t remember exactly what they did with it; it only mattered that the stupid thing was out of my life. I mean, really! Mark and I were the only kids in the whole church who had those hats, and all the other kids snickered at us when they saw us.
And no, I wouldn’t wear one today, either. And at my age, you don’t have to.
It used to be a common sight in our town–the milk machine. Stores weren’t open at night, or on Sundays; but if you ran out of milk, there was always a milk machine a few blocks away.
Now there aren’t any.
A milk machine featured in one of the best days of my boyhood. The machine was a block from our middle school, and it rested on a wooden platform.
One day, passing by, we discovered that much of the platform had rotted through and broken off. Light bulb flashes over three kids’ heads! Digging into the soft earth that used to be covered by the platform, we unearthed a treasure trove of quarters. Wow! Instant wealth! I can’t remember how much money we dug up; but after who knows how many years of people dropping quarters and seeing them vanish into the cracks between the planks, I think it was the most money I had ever had in my life, so far. Kids didn’t go walking around with $20 bills, back then. If I had 20 cents in my pocket, I was doing okay.
I don’t remember how long it took me to spend those quarters; but I’m sure I had a good time doing it.
Looking back, it seems incredible: our whole family, house and car and all, supported just on my father’s paycheck. But that was the case for every family on our street. All one-paycheck households.
It wasn’t poverty. It was middle-class. I wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China.
Ah, those summer nights! Packed off to bed but not yet sleeping, listening to the grownups’ conversation, and soft laughter, wafting up from the screened-in porch.
Not for all the money in the world…
Music Box Dancer, by Canadian composer Frank Mills, came out in 1974, worked its way around the world, and was a major U.S. hit single in 1979.
What could be more harmless, more benign, than this simple piece of music?
To me it brings back a time when everybody in my family was still here, still healthy. Around 50 you start to lose ’em, so a word to the wise: love ’em while you’ve got ’em.
It also brings back a vignette from the warehouse where my wife worked at the time: this was the tune that was playing loudly on the intercom while a couple of the lads fought each other, rolling around on the floor–with the British foreman dancing around ineffectually, pleading with them, “Steady on, lads! Steady on!”
This was many years ago, when my folks still lived in town, everyone was still alive, and we had Thanksgiving dinner over their house.
When Patty and I arrived, the family was gathered in the cellar, and on our way downstairs–my mother hadn’t seen me in a week or two–I stopped in the sitting room and picked up two throw pillows. I stuffed one under my shirt and the other into the seat of my pants.
We marched down the stairs, and when my mother looked up and first laid eyes on me… she screamed. “OMG! Oh! Oh!” She was appalled, couldn’t get the words out. How could I have gotten so corpulent, so soon?
Everybody else laughed themselves silly, and my mother was vastly relieved when I removed the two pillows.
Meanwhile, as you read this, we’re probably sitting down for dinner with my brother and sister. Pray we get home all right!
Fun times, those were. How I miss them. We are profoundly thankful for the wonderful family that God gave us.
Sorry! But I couldn’t resist this blast from the past (lots of blasts, actually)–former National League first baseman Chuck Connors as The Rifleman, a classic TV Western from way back when. I wonder what would happen if you showed this on a college campus today.
Two questions for trivia buffs:
How many shots does the rifleman get off in just this brief intro?
And what was Chuck Connors’ real name?
(P.S.–His lifetime batting average was only .238, so quitting his day job wasn’t a problem for him.)
Well, I tried to collect nooze today; but as you can see by the results, there’s not much going. The behind-closed-doors, no formal vote, no Republicans allowed, bogus Democrat pseudo “impeachment” circus is sucking all the oxygen out of the room. Do these slimy partisan hacks really, truly, believe they can actually remove a president by this technique? No defense, no cross-examination: you’d think it was a Canadian “human rights” tribunal.
Americans need to get much madder at all this than they are.
Anyway, the day being drab and rainy, Patty and I went on our annual Halloween tour, cruising all over town to look at people’s Halloween decorations. Harmless fun. My favorite was somebody’s giant ghost in ratty robes with a rotting pumpkin for a head: squirrels had added their own unique touches to it.
I enjoy a scare that turns out to be totally imaginary, nothin’ to it–as opposed to the kind of scares you get in the nooze: stuff that doesn’t just go away. I’ll trade them in for ghosts and goblins any day. The Mummy can’t hurt you, but Democrats can.
So we’re back, we had a nice time, and I’m looking forward to seeing the trick-or-treaters make their rounds on Thursday: always brings back pleasant memories.
Here it is, Sunday, and raining cats and dogs. It reminds me of a certain Sunday way back when, when it was snowing like crazy instead of raining–and my father had promised to take us to the movies to see Journey to the Center of the Earth at the good old Forum Theater. After Sunday school and Sunday dinner, of course.
But when we got there, the line stretched literally around the block, no way we were getting in. My disappointment was inexpressible. But Daddy meant to keep his promise, so he took us back for the next showing and this time we got in.
Oh, boy–dinosaurs! Well, iguanas done up as Dimetrodons: but it was good enough for me. And Pat Boone merrily singing among the giant mushrooms…
As icing on the cake, it kept snowing and there was no school the next day. Somehow sledding down the hill at Tommy’s Pond had it all over sitting in class and trying to do math problems.