Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

By Fred Owens

I was going to write something about Mike Bloomberg declaring himself to be a candidate for President. I mean, he's okay with me and I have plenty to say about that whole situation, but who wants to hear it? I hear the Frog Hospital masses shouting in unison, "Fred, stop it! Write that story next week."

So, family news  instead. My niece Laura Mauve gave birth to a baby girl two days ago. The baby's name in Charli -- spelled that way. The child was born in Monaco and she already knows several words in French.

Now, for some last minute excitement -- Eugene, my esteemed son, will depart from his Los Angeles library job at 5:45 p.m. tomorrow, catching an Uber to LAX where his plane takes off at 9:55 p.m for the Red Eye flight to Boston, where his girl friend Rachel awaits him. It all looks good to me but I wish he could leave work a little early because Wednesday evening is a hard time to catch a plane. Even the Uber to the airport can take much longer than expected. And don't even think about getting through security. It could take forever. That is my official worry. I am concerned about other relatives and other journeys, but this leap to Boston is the key to it all.

Fire, Smoke and Ash

I took an old t-shirt and wiped the ashes off the windshield of my car. The ash is coming down everywhere, lightly. The air is yellowish. The breeze is not strong. The temperature is dropping and the rain is coming pretty soon. This all bodes well to prevent or slow the spread of a 5,000-acre fire that flared up last night at sunset. It's about five miles from our house right now.

Santa Barbara folks remember the Painted Cave Fire in 1990. It raced down the mountain, leapt across the freeway and burned hundreds of homes. But that was in July. And the temperature was 100 degrees that day, and the winds burst to 70 mph. Conditions on this fire today are far less severe. We have lighter winds, colder temperatures and rising humidity -- Rain is expected this evening.

It has not rained in six months. That is normal around here. Usually there is no rain from April until October. The native plants are built for this annual dry spell. But the rains are coming late this year, so you can call that climate change or just call it bad weather. And what matters most today is how hard and quick the rain comes. If it comes in easy and drizzles and drips this will subdue the flames. This is the good rain. But if it comes in hard and furious, dumping water on burned hillsides, then we could get another mudslide. That is the bad rain.

So that's how it stands. Now, for evacuation. There is an area near the flames where evacuation is mandatory. They don't literally force you to leave your home when it's mandatory, but they make it clear to stubborn residents that rescue is not an option and you are on your own. The next level of evacuation is the warning. This means pack up your car and make a plan to leave, but hang tight.

Where we live is beyond the warning zone, but close enough to go through the drill mentally. I told Laurie what I would put in my car if I had 15 minutes to leave. Obvious stuff -- prescription medicine, passport, cash, car title, birth certificate, a shoe box of photos, two photo albums, one high school year book, a laptop, an iPad, lots of socks and clean t-shirts and a warm coat. This is leaving out all the stuff I already carry in my car because of my gardening business, like a tool box, crow bar, ax, wire, duct tape, two rain coats, a spare set of clothes, jumper cables, shovel, pruning saw, tarp -- jeez I got every thing but a tarp  -- finally a Pendleton wool stadium blanket and a car pillow good for naps, and two hand towels, and a couple of paperback books. And then Laurie can stuff her car with what she wants and our Meet-Up spot is the Starbucks on the Mesa, which is two miles from here going away from the fire.

Bringing two car loads of stuff is fine, but what really matters, is an inventive make-do spirit. And cash. Cash is good if the power is down, and you can't go back to your neighborhood, but there is a motel room available, and they will give you a good deal on fire days, but they will be a lot happier if you give them two hundred-dollar bills. Which is why it's good to have the tarp -- because you might not have the cash  -- you can still improvise a shelter.

Oh, well, it would be good to bring some water, I have five 2.5 gallon containers of water stashed by the shed in the back of the house. Putting extra water in the car is a good idea. Then all you really need is a can of coffee, a small pot, some matches and some dry wood and a cup. Then you have a hot cup of coffee.  Or, if your gas tank is full you can just drive to Phoenix and get out of here altogether. A lot of people do that because of the bad air quality.

Clif bars are good for snacks. I usually carry two or three in my car, but I ate 'em. Just remember, no matter how well you prepare you will forget something and you will need to improvise. Or you can just sit in your car, roll down the window and start crying  -- sometimes people respond to that with acts of generosity.

All this fire news gets on national TV and the tourists will stop coming to Santa Barbara, which is bad because we like the tourists to come. They are good people and they spend money. But if the tourist business drops off because of all this fire hype, then it will be easier to find a parking place at the beach, so there is a good side to this too.

I am thankful for what we have today. I am thankful for what we don't have.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody in Frog Hospital country.

Let's Keep Hoppin'


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Monday, November 18, 2019

Mayor Pete for President

Mayor Pete for President
By Fred Owens

South Bend Mayor Pete Butigieg is leading the polls in Iowa. We really need a candidate from the Midwest in 2020. These old people from New England have seen better days. Warren, from Massachusetts is just another Harvard professor. We don't need the Ivy League this time. Sanders is  from Vermont. I've already seen that movie, and I get tired of seeing him wave his hand when he talks. But Jewish. We could use a Jewish President. I'll have to think about that. Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is too old and too rich. He is a Democrat with a heartbeat and therefore superior to Trump in terms of character and intelligence. And the Trumpster himself is another New Yorker. Nope. Our next President will come from the Midwest. From Indiana like Mayor Pete. He is too young at 37 so we will suffer from his lack of maturity, but I'm ready to take a chance on this new kid and I prefer him to the old fogies, who have done an outstanding job I should say and carried us this far -- but speaking as a fellow boomer, let's give the kids a chance.

Except I wish Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was doing better. Okay, for Veep? Sure. And California Senator Kamala Harris? She would destroy Trump in any debate. I would love to see that, but her prospects don't look good.  Overall, the Democratic field is strong and diverse. We can win in 2020. I sure hope so.

The Impeachment.

I got up at 6 a.m. on Friday to watch Marie Yovanovitch give her talk. She was strong and clear. I knew she would kill it and she did. And I knew this would drive Trump over the edge which is what happened, with his bizarre Tweet. As we enter the second week of the hearings, we face the serious risk of a total Oval Office meltdown. Trump is capable of truly dangerous behavior and we must be strong and wary. Hang on, brothers and sisters.

Many Democrats that I have talked to think the impeachment process is a waste of time because it will not get past the Senate and we can't get rid of Trump until the election. I hear you, but  I don't agree, because what do we do, just wait and twiddle our thumbs until November? This man is a criminal and he needs to face justice today. We don't let this one go.  That's what I think.

The Subscription Appeal

We have received $275 so far. Our goals is $900. It sure makes me feel good to get checks in the mail. You give me strength. There's a lot that I can do to help the Democrats win in 2020. The Frog Hospital News is more than a quixotic venture. We're serious as sin. The details of the appeal are at the bottom of this issue, after this family story.

We Let The Boogie Man Out of the Closet in the Basement

The Owens Family bought a house in 1946 in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This story takes place in 1956 when I was ten.

Our family was just right, the way I looked at it. Five kids was a good size. Six kids or four kids were all right. Eight kids were too many, like a zoo. Two kids, like the Giambalvos’ house, was empty and lonely.
With seven in the family – with five kids – there was always something going on. I could look around the house and find people doing things if I wanted, but it wasn’t crowded except at dinner in the kitchen.
When you came in our house, in the front door – the stairs came down in the middle of the living room with a banister. The maroon wool carpet ran up the stairs and into the small upstairs hall. I liked to race up two at a time. That’s why I know there was an odd number of risers, because I had one extra small step at the end, but usually I took the odd step at the beginning, and then I could just race. The upstairs hall had a small brass chandelier, just one bulb. It was very warm. You could see it from the bottom of the stairs. It was private and warm up there – a little bit quieter too.
The bathroom was at the top of the stairs. It had a white enamel floor in small hexagons and a large free standing enamel sink. The laundry chute was next to the toilet – we called it the “dirty clothes.” It was cool the way you just opened the “dirty clothes” and tossed things in and they just appeared like magic back in the dresser drawer.
I took baths with my little sister when I was small, and my Mom would come in to watch or help. Later I took baths by myself and locked the door. We locked the door when we went to the toilet, and with seven there was sometimes banging and “Don’t take too long.”
 I liked watching Dad shave – the lather, the razor. Dad made some interesting contortions with his face getting it all clean, and then taking out his partial denture for tooth scrubbing. We used toothpaste, but Dad had his own tooth powder. It smelled nice, but it was his, and also a little icky for me to think of using it. He had hairy armpits too. He wore his  undershirt and pajamas bottoms when he shaved.
There were two or three plastic water glasses on the sink for drinking water. We shared them. Drinking water out of those cups was special. If I was thirsty or drowsy from sleep, or even staying home because I was sick, I filled the cup, not even cold, and drank it all down.
There were four bedrooms upstairs, two on each side. Mom and Dad’s bedroom had a beautiful set of carved furniture, dark cherry like the dining room set, but even richer. A tall dresser for Dad. He had one whole drawer just for white shirts, all stacked up and folded nice from the dry cleaners. The top drawer had his socks, and a special sliding inner drawer where he kept a dozen pair of cuff links and a rosary. Then he had a tie rack in the closet and lots of ties. He taught me how to tie a tie when I was pretty young, because we dressed for church, and I wore a sport coat and tie and polished my shoes.
Mom’s dresser was wider and lower with a large ornate mirror above it. She had some lotions and perfume on the top of it. Her jewelry was in the top drawer, but I didn’t look in there more than a few times. A large extra thick rug did not quite cover the floor. It was a dark, rich Persian. The double bed was warm wood, not too elaborate. When I was small I could run into their bed during a thunderstorm. They would let me sleep between them. I woke up in my own bed. It was magic. My Dad must have carried me.
Mary was the oldest and she had her own bedroom. It was special with feminine things, souvenirs and bric-a-brac and a dainty bedside lamp. The symmetry was best for not being perfect, like in the order of children. Katy was four years younger than me. Carolyn was two years older. Tom was four years older than me, all marching and I always knew how old they were. But Mary was three years older than Tom, the oldest, a little odd in that three years difference. And her birthday was out of order too. Carolyn’s was May 2, Katy’s was May 5. Tom was June 5, and I was June 25. Symmetry. But Mary was born in November, and I never could remember when, or remember how old she was – I had to calculate, like remembering she was born in 1939 and then doing the math.
Mary had a lot of vitality and she was our leader. She was bony and strong. She had lots of friends – Jane Keenan, Carol Sue Reilly, Joyce McQueen, and others. They were all in the upper realm to me, telling their high school stories and talking about records and dresses.
Across the hall, Carolyn and Katy had the big bedroom in front. Tom and I had the small bedroom in back. It never mattered to me that Carolyn and Katy had a bigger bedroom. Why would I want to be in a girl’s room? They had decorations, which were not stupid, but just girl’s stuff. Dolls, tea sets and play jewelry. What did fascinate me was trading cards. These were like playing cards only they had a large box of them with many different kinds of pictures and decorations, like cards with horses, or cards with birds or houses. I might look through them under supervision. It was mysterious. I knew they traded them with other girls, but on what basis? And which ones were good? I didn’t know where they got them either. They were not equivalent to baseball cards – I knew that.
Carolyn was my closest sister, two years older. She had brown eyes and wore glasses and she was round – not chubby, just round. She was smart too and she could fight. She played canasta, and sometimes she would recruit me and Katy to play with her. The rules were elaborate, something about red threes, and natural canastas which gave more points. You played with two decks, you had so many cards in your hand you couldn’t even hold them. I liked the game. I didn’t exactly think Carolyn was cheating – maybe just not telling me all the rules. I usually didn’t win.
I could tease Carolyn really good, by messing with her stuff, or just saying something. It was easy to get her mad. But Katy was different. Katy was four years younger. It wasn’t her age so much as her disposition. If I teased her she started to cry. That wasn’t too much fun, but sometimes I did it just for something to do. Katy was sweet. She was the youngest, but we never called her the baby. Being four years the youngest, she had extra space, not physical space, just her own realm, somehow matching Mary’s upper realm. Carolyn and I were the ones on the middle, so we were the gang, the mob living in kid’s world.
Tom and I had twin beds in the small room. We had a nice tin lamp fixture on the wall. We shared a tall dresser. He had the top drawers and I had the bottom drawers, plus we shared a closet. I had a very small side table with drawers where I could keep models and toys. Mom put up some boys wall paper that like looked pine boards in a cabin – real outdoorsy, just for guys. Then we had matching tan bedspreads for our twin beds – nothing frilly like the girls. I could look out the window from my pillow on the bed. The second floor was up high, and I could look down on tree branches and squirrels racing through them. I could look down on the street lights, and see the beam of light streaking through the branches of the trees. I really liked it up there, looking out, and feeling so cozy in my bed.
Bedtime was 8 o’clock, and I could read in bed until 8:30. Usually I got a shout from Mom or Dad. They’d be downstairs leaning on the banister calling out, “Turn out the light.” I got up and turned out the light, but the hall light was left on and the door was open, so it wasn’t really dark. I guess my brother was doing something downstairs, because he never came in the bedroom until later and I was already asleep.
The scariest time for me was when I went to see the “War of the Worlds” when the Martians invaded the earth. The Martians had creepy, bloody red hands and they scared me to death, especially in this one scene where the man and woman are hiding out, and the creepy hand comes sneaking in to grab them. I was so scared in bed that night, and when they called to turn out the light, I almost trembled. Those creepy red hands were going to get me. I mentally prepared to turn off the light and run like lightning back to the bed and get my head way under the covers.
That worked, but I was still scared, and every night after that I was scared, but a little less. Otherwise I heard about the Boogey Man under the bed, but I discounted that story at an early age. I had a mild interest in who the Boogey Man was and what he looked like, but he didn’t scare me.
Tom was taller than me. He had a crew cut, sometimes a long crew cut that went straight up. He damaged one of his front teeth playing football and he had a silver cap on it that marked his grin. He had athlete’s foot and had to put this powder on it – that was creepy. He showed me how to clean out the dirt between my toes, that little black stuff. I liked that because it was like picking my nose.
He smelled. The girls didn’t smell at all. Mom smelled good. Dad had a fairly strong odor. Tom smelled like Dad only milder. He was quiet too and talked slowly like Dad did – at least with me. He didn’t pal with me too much, being four years older, and a lot of times I got these semi-paternal talks. Like the time Leroy Martinek and I were beating up Billy Brenner. Leroy lived out the alley and down the block, so their house was on Walnut Street. It was kind of a dirty place. Leroy was big for his age and a hoodlum.
Billy Brenner was a new kid who lived two blocks closer to school. He was fat and roly-poly and looked like a big white bunny, so we decided to beat him up, waiting for him on the sidewalk when he began walking to school. I told Tom about this because it was cool, but then I got surprised. I got a talking to instead. He told me it was wrong to beat up a kid who wasn’t doing anything, and it was dumb to get into fights anyway.
Tom hung out with some of the hoodlum kids himself – the Ridge Boys, but I got the understanding that we had standards and we didn’t do the things that they did. Mainly I knew my brother was cool, not just because he was older and got to do things, but he was just cool. Like the time guys were wearing pink shirts with black stitching – he had one.
The attic was really neat. You went into Mom and Dad’s bedroom, then into their closet, and the steep stairs went up to a closed trap door. I lived up there when I was fourteen, but when I was younger, I couldn’t go up there by myself. It was way up high and not insulated – cold in the winter, boiling hot in the summer. They kept things up there, but I didn’t get to look around by myself.
The basement was fun because we could play down there. Tom used to shoot his BB gun at a target on the wall, and the back of the wall was pockmarked with BB dents. He let me shoot it sometimes. This didn’t last too long – maybe the folks got worried. We had a ping-pong table and we played a lot in the big room. The side room was for storage – all the ice skates and roller skates in a cabinet. Lots of fishing tackle – rods and reels and nets and bait buckets. Dad got a lot of that free from the business, so he was pretty easy about me going through it.
There was one scary place in the laundry room. The door that was nailed shut, all dirty and flaky with old paint. Mom just kind of waved her hand and said, “Oh, there used to be a pantry back there.” Of course I didn’t exactly say I was scared, I was just asking. Katy was scared of it too. In 1996, after Mom died, when were cleaning the house and disposing of things, Katy and I finally went down to the basement together, and I said, “We’re going to open that door and look inside, and if the Boogey Man lives in there, we’re going to let him go.” I pried open the door with a crow bar. It was all cob-webbed inside with old mason jars. It had been used as a fruit cellar. We left the door open, like the ghost finally got let out. But after a few days, the ghost was still there, so we said fine, he can stay. He was a benign ghost, who scared little children, but only a little bit, and just to make them behave.

The End.

An Appeal
Frog Hospital used to make money, maybe $700 or $800 a year. That was when I sold subscriptions at $25, but somehow the readership fell off and people stopped paying for it and I kind of gave up. But now I think, well, I need the money. And all I have to do is put the solicitation at the bottom of the newsletter when it comes out. To write a check for $25 or more and mail it to Fred Owens, 1105 Veronica Springs RD, Santa Barbara, CA 93105...... or hit the PayPal button on my blog and do it that way.
That's the blog with the PayPal button on the side. The blog is simply the archive for the newsletter. Every issue of the newsletter becomes a post on the blog, so it stores some hundreds of back issues. Frog Hospital has been in business since 1998, so there is some longevity in it, although Facebook and other social media outlets seems to be overwhelming. Yes, overwhelming, but we ain't giving up and the Frog Will Roar Again.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Family Chronicles, Uncle Ralph was just a milkman

Uncle Ralph, He Was Just A Milkman

By Fred Owens

Hugo was my brother and true companion on the back roads of America. He writes to me from somewhere in Florida. I cannot say exactly where in Florida because he moves around a lot -- gotta dance, he says. Hugo wants to pony up for a subscription to the Frog Hospital newsletter, but he says "please no politics." This plea touches my heart. The back and forth of political hostility is sweeping the nation and making life much too harsh. Poor Hugo, and I don't say that to be cynical. Poor Fred. Poor all of us. But we have to go through it. The impeachment hearings start tomorrow on live television and the halls of Congress will quake. I will be watching. You should watch too, as much as you can. Let's all be there with strong hearts.
But let's hear from the rest of you. Hugo says no to political writing at Frog Hospital, just the stories. What do you say?

Thanksgiving. I called my sister Carolyn in Venice and we talked about Thanksgiving. Everybody is coming and going. There is no plan, as yet. Laurie's older daughter Mariah is in Hawaii. Her younger daughter Shannon is in Santa Cruz, but she will drive down to see us. My son Eugene will go to Boston to have turkey with his new girlfriend Rachel and her parents. My daughter Eva, her wife Lara, her two boys Walter and Joey, and their golden retriever Odie are all in Santa Cruz right now and will have turkey there.  Carolyn will be hosting her two daughters Primavera and Zana. My niece Aisha from the Bay area will fly down, with or without her children and husband, to spend the holiday with my brother Tom and his girlfriend Marti in Sierra Madre which is near Pasadena.  That whole group will come feast with Carolyn and Laurie and me at a location to be determined.  Laurie and I will likely do two turkeys at this point -- an early stop at Carolyn's house  and then spend the evening and overnight with her two brothers, Dave and John and their families in Manhattan Beach. This is actually not confusing, it's just a game of musical chairs. Either way we get pumpkin pie.
Laurie's brother Dave's wife Grace is Japanese-American. Grace's brother Sam will be at the party. Sam is a quiet fellow. He comes in the house and heads straight to the TV room and the couch. He watches the football game in contented silence. This is the joke. He pretends he does not speak English. Laurie says he does not speak hardly any English even though he has spent most of his life in this country. I say he does speak English but he would rather watch the football game and not talk. Anyway, I enjoy Sam's silent company.
So that's it and we did not write anything about the impeachment hearings. But the hearings are an important matter, and so is the 2020 election. We will be writing more about them unless an overwhelming number of readers want just the stories.

The subscription appeal is doing well. We have received $225 so far and we aim for $900. The details are at the bottom of this week's fairly short story.

The Owens Family Chronicles. This week's installment is fairly short, so read it all, no excuses.

What I knew about old people was from my relatives – Granma and Granpa, Aunt Lena and Aunt Francis. They were always old, so they never got older. They had grey hair and soft wrinkly skin. They moved slowly and they always said the same cute things to us. Granma died in 1955, when I was nine, so I don’t remember her well, but she had a Persian lamb black coat that was very shiny and smooth. She took it off when she came over, I got to put it away in the hall closet. And she had a nice clean smell, like just a little soap or lavender.
Granpa was bigger. He didn’t have much hair, but he had a big nose and brown spots on his hands. All his clothes were grey. Granpa chewed tobacco and that made him seem ancient to me for some reason, like a horse and buggy thing. One time I was riding with Granpa and Uncle Ralph was driving. Uncle Ralph stopped the car. Granpa opened the door, leaned over and made a big spit – wow! Then he pulled the tobacco plug out of his pocket along with an aged small pocket knife and cut himself another chew. He died in 1960. He was 94.
Aunt Lena and Aunt Francis were his younger sisters. They were old maids. They lived together down in Chicago someplace in an apartment. Aunt Lena had a job, but Aunt Francis always stayed home and did the housework. I liked them both. They were too old to be any fun, but I never expected that. They were like extra grandparents, so I felt rich in that way. We only went to their apartment once or twice. It was full of knick-knacks and delicate old furniture and doilies and everything like an old lady ought to have. They were very kind to me, and I could touch things but carefully, no antics. They came over to our house for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, and for the Fourth of July party in the backyard.
They both wore these incredible old-lady shoes, low high-heels that laced up in the front and thick nylon stockings that you couldn’t see through. Aunt Lena was thin and small and droll in her speech. Mom liked Aunt Lena because she worked. Aunt Francis was fat and sometimes merry. I liked her better because she was more fun. But Mom said Aunt Frances never did anything except have a good appetite at mealtime.
The Chicago fire was in 1871 when Mrs. O’Leary kicked over the lantern while she was milking a cow. The whole city burned except for the Water Tower, now a sandstone landmark right near to downtown on Michigan Boulevard. I loved to hear the story, I would ask them to tell it again. Aunt Lena and Aunt Francis and Granpa were in the fire when they were children. Their house burned down and they had to run away, but nobody got hurt.
They used to tell us about great-grandfather who was a Union soldier in the Civil War and how he marched through Georgia with General Sherman. After the war, great-grandfather came back to Chicago and opened a dry-goods store on the North Side. He lived to be 98 and he always marched in the Memorial Day parade. He was the last one in his regiment to die. Granpa and his two sisters took over the store and they ran it until 1920. There was a small depression right after World War I and they lost their business. After that Granpa retired and they were middle class but in straitened circumstances.
Their name was Cuny, a Swiss name. Great-grandfather came over from Basel, Switzerland when he was a young man. He spoke German. Great-grandmother was from Alsace in France and she spoke German too. At Christmas we sang Silent Night and O Tannenbaum in German because of that, and we listened to records of the Vienna Boys Choir.
Granma and Granpa had eight children. Baby Henry died when he was little, they told us. Besides him there was Ambrose (Ted), Carolyn, Charles (Chuck), Theresa (Tessie), Jerome (Jerry), Ralph, and Marie. Mom was the baby and the prettiest. They always lived in a big apartment. One time when they were really short on money, they couldn’t find an apartment big enough for seven children, and they had to split up the family. Mom stayed with relatives for a while. She said it was fun for her, but it was difficult for Granma and Granpa.
The Depression was hard and they had to save every penny, and if someone had a job they had to hold on to it and count themselves lucky. The grown children stayed at home until they were married and they turned their paycheck over to the parents. The Cunys thought they were a little bit better than other people and had good standards in education and manners and in being good Catholics. Proper people, but threadbare.
They still lived in the apartment until the early 1950s when they bought a snug red-brick bungalow in Evanston, on Lawndale Avenue. Their house was only a few miles from our house, and near to Central Street where we used to live.
Uncle Chuck and Uncle Jerry got married and had their own families. But Uncle Ralph, Aunt Carolyn and Aunt Tessie never married. They just stayed home with Granma and Granpa until they died and just the three of them kept living there. This way I had extra aunts and uncles with no children of their own and we got a special attention from them, and they were only minutes from our house. Mom held Aunt Tessie and Aunt Carolyn in high regard and we looked up to them. Aunt Tessie was a drama teacher at St. Scholastica, a Catholic high school. She had a melodious voice, very careful diction, and beautiful posture, carrying herself as on the stage. She had shiny black eyes and white skin, and I liked it if she gave me a kiss. She was exuberant and enthusiastic about most things. Aunt Tessie didn’t have enough college for a degree, but a teacher didn’t need one back then. Drama was her vocation and it gave her a spirit and sense of duty and joy.
Aunt Carolyn was older and more serious. She was plain looking with strong horse-y features. She was the one that had the steady job all through the Depression and her pay check as a legal secretary on LaSalle Street was what kept the family going. She kept that job for forty years. She was a bit sacrificial in her spinsterhood and her work-a-day life. She never got to go to college because she was older and had to work. I still thought it was odd that they didn’t have husbands, but we had the nuns at school, so they were like semi-nuns.
Uncle Ralph was a milkman. He was my favorite uncle and he came over to our house a lot. He would just drop in for a little bit. I knew what a milk man was, because the truck came to our house twice a week. Uncle Ralph worked for Glenora Farms and sometimes he came by after work wearing his brown company jacket with “Ralph” embroidered on the front. Everybody liked Uncle Ralph and he always did favors for the customers on his route, and always had a cheerful smile when he came to see us. Too bad he was a drunkard. I didn’t know that, but Aunt Tessie and Aunt Carolyn had to drag him out of taverns and get him back to work sometimes. Uncle Ralph served in the navy for World War II. He was stationed in some miserable backwater in New Guinea. He didn’t like to talk about it.
The thing that bothered me was that Mom said he was “just a milk man.” Even if I was only eight years old, I knew that wasn’t a right thing to say. I didn’t talk back because I didn’t have the words, but I understood what Mom meant – Uncle Jerry, Uncle Chuck and Uncle Ted had white collar jobs. Being a milk man was not as good. Yes, except Uncle Ralph was the one who always came over to the house and smiled a lot.

That's all for this week.

An Appeal

Frog Hospital used to make money, maybe $700 or $800 a year. That was when I sold subscriptions at $25, but somehow the readership fell off and people stopped paying for it and I kind of gave up. But now I think, well, I need the money. And all I have to do is put the solicitation at the bottom of the newsletter when it comes out. To write a check for $25 or more and mail it to Fred Owens, 1105 Veronica Springs RD, Santa Barbara, CA 93105...... or hit the PayPal button on my blog and do it that way.
That's the blog with the PayPal button on the side. The blog is simply the archive for the newsletter. Every issue of the newsletter becomes a post on the blog, so it stores some hundreds of back issues. Frog Hospital has been in business since 1998, so there is some longevity in it, although Facebook and other social media outlets seems to be overwhelming. Yes, overwhelming, but we ain't giving up and the Frog Will Roar Again.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

I write about when I was a kid, part two, plus Trump leaves me exhausted

 By Fred Owens
Trump leaves me exhausted. I have tried manfully to grapple with the impeachment process, but I am fairly fatigued and bushwacked. I need a break. I need a day at the beach. All I can say is that I give my strongest energy to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She has to deal with this man. She has to confront him. She is not enjoying the process because this is a grim task, but the man needs to be deposed.
The Fire Next Time.
James Baldwin wrote this novel in 1963, The Fire Next Time. I read most of his novels back then, I should re-visit them. I only mention it today because of the fires in California. There were two small fires that got a lot of attention, one threatened the Getty Museum and the other came very near to the Reagan Library. With such prominent locations, these fires got a large amount of media attention. That's just the way things work. The Maria Fire in Ventura County burned 9,000 acres, damaging avocado and lemon orchards. Several homes were lost -- not a big deal  -- unless it was your home that burned.
The Kincaid Fire in northern California burned 75,000 acres and damaged vineyards and many homes as well. How do you say "less bad" than the fires last year? Like, it could have been worse. But please, if you don't live in California, don't send us any valuable tips on how to deal with all this.
Don't remind us that if you shut off the electric power to quiet that source of fire, then the cell towers go blank and cell phone service is not available to residents fleeing the blaze. If the gas station has no power, they can't pump the gas to fill the tanks of the fleeing residents. If the traffic lights go dark then people bang into each other. We need to re-think all this and come up with a better plan.
And homeless people are abundant, of course. You can thank us for hosting your discarded people. Homeless people come to Santa Barbara from other states because the weather is good and the people are friendly. That's just the kind of people we are -- we welcome immigrants too.
I moved to California nine years ago and it's the best thing I've ever done. It's like I wake up on another sunny day in Santa Barbara and I thank God I'm not being so stupid anymore. I get to live here. Local Californians welcomed me and now I am one of them.
Family Business. I've been making lots of phone calls to relatives -- my two children, my brother, my two sisters, various nieces and there is lots of news, most of it good but some of it not good. The clearest good news is from my niece Laura Maeve who lives in Monaco in France. Her baby is due in a few weeks and this is a great joy.
But rather than give you the current family news, I will post this long, very long, story about life with the Owens Family in 1956. So, if you're not too busy, get in your comfortable chair and let us return to days of old, in the Midwest, in the leafy suburbs of Chicago.

I write about when I was a kid, part two....This story is kind of long for an email, but if you have the time you might like it

There was only ritual and seasonal time and children growing and big old trees that never changed. There were no events. Everything was always the same, except some of the neighbors moved in or moved out. Almost every article of furniture was still there in 1996 when Mom died and we sold the house. The old green couch and the upright piano had been in the basement for thirty years – same with the old kitchen table, the toboggan, the ping pong table, a lot of the ice skates, all in the basement, not forever, but always there.
The first time I remember anything in my life was out on the driveway in front of the house. I was riding a tricycle. Mom and Dad drove up and got out of the car. Mom was holding Katy in a bundle. She had just been born. I was four years old. It was 1950.
We were seven in our family, and it stayed that way a long time. The children were Mary, Tommy, Carolyn, Freddy, and Katy. This was our house. Nothing could be more elemental. When Katy came home from the hospital it was complete and set for all time as far as I knew. We were us, the Owens family.
The house was big, white, square and stucco. The shutters were dark-green wood. Shutters didn’t actually do anything, they were just there.
The front stairs were wood and painted grey, broad for sitting and more than six feet in width – five or six steps with a cast iron railing on each side. Plain cast iron painted black and sturdy, not with a fancy pattern, but just a little curve at the end.
The outside porch light was a marvel of wrought iron hung on a chain. It balanced the street light directly in front, being six-sided as well, with the same mottled glass panes, but shaped like a globe, and with a spike that pointed downward from the bottom. It was very strong.
The front door was heavy and plain and very solid. It swung smoothly open and shut.  They never locked the front door, but sometimes I played with the lock because it was polished brass and clicked into place.
The living room had a wall-to-wall wool carpet of deep maroon, just slightly scratchy, just a little dusty, but you could roll around on it all the time, or lay on your stomach and elbows to read or play games. The radio and record player was at one end in a substantial cabinet and the TV was at the other end. We got the TV when I was about five or six. I remember going over to the Giambolvos house to watch it before that. I remember hearing Fibber McGee and Molly on the radio too, but the TV took over pretty quickly.
The living room was not too formal, but it was the living room with the good furniture and the couch. Dad had his chair, which was really big and dark red. He sat there, in a clean white shirt and dress pants and read the newspaper for hours. He had this peculiar way of folding the paper into fourths and holding it with one hand. He was quiet. He used to make this fritzing every once in a while when he moved his partial denture. He didn’t talk much, and when he did speak it was very slow. I used to be jumping up and down waiting for him to finish a sentence. His voice was deep and strong while he chose his words – usually about things that didn’t interest me or about ways that I was supposed to behave. That was discipline – he would bore us to death. But I liked having him around.
Dad moved slowly too, not being physically active. He had a big head and deep jowel on top of a slight frame. His torso was light above and with a paunch underneath. His hands were graceful and smooth. The back of his hands had black hairs, coarse and sparse and beautifully clean fingernails. This was where he did his work – with paper, at a desk. In the evening, when I saw him, he had a can of beer or a cup of coffee by the chair.
He was solid in his habit, having his own business a few blocks from the house where he published a fishing magazine. He came home when work was done, not by the clock, although it was always late afternoon.
The great thing about Dad in his living room chair was that he was never perturbed by the ruckus of children – he just kept on reading his newspaper and ignoring us in the nicest way. You might here an outburst once a month, “Damn it” or even “Damn it to hell” – which didn’t scare us.
 We got the Chicago Tribune in the morning and the Chicago Daily News in the afternoon. The Chicago Tribune called itself the “World’s Greatest Newspaper.” I was a bit skeptical about that. It had an editorial cartoon everyday on the front page – something about a guy whose head was a globe, I never understood it. The Daily News had much better comics. We got all the magazines too – Life, Post, the New Yorker and several others. Life and the Post  had good pictures and short stories. The New Yorker had cartoons although some of them weren’t funny.
There was a nice fireplace with brass andirons and a screen in front. We had fires sometimes in the winter. They would let me use the tools to poke the blaze, and they would have me clean it up the next day, by sweeping the ashes into square tunnel in the brick floor.
The upright piano was in the other end of the living room, next to the radio. Later we got a spinet, and put the old upright in the basement.
My sisters all took piano lessons, especially Mary, the oldest. She rehearsed for weeks when she played Malaguena for her recital in high school. Tom played the trumpet. I took two years of piano lessons in fifth and sixth grade. I liked playing the piano and I practiced, but then I got bored and stopped. Mom didn’t pressure me.
The dining room led off the living room. We had a beautiful crystal chandelier. The dining table had eight chairs and there was a matching buffet – a sideboard. They were a set, made of dark burnished cherry, with intricate carvings on the front, and finely tapered fluted legs. It was just the right size and proportions the way the dining table, chairs and buffet filled the room. During the week Mom kept a fitted pad on the top of the dining table and over that a regular table cloth
Mom kept her best china in the buffet. We had Sunday dinner in the dining room with the good china on a white linen table cloth. Dad sat at one end, in the chair that had the arms on it. Mom sat at the other end near the door to the kitchen. We used to have a roast beef, or big steak or something special like that.
We didn’t dress, we had already dressed that morning for Sunday Mass. It wasn’t too formal or fussy, but our manners had to be a little bit better. There was coaching on table manners during dinner, but nothing severe. There was a never a child sent to his room or anything like that. Nothing like an angry exchange, but a pointed reminder from Mom, and indication that she was watching at all times, and you might get away with something, but she did notice. Mom talked a lot about good posture and not slouching. Dad didn’t say much.
We folded our hands and said grace in unison, “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen,” and then we made the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen.” Bless us, O Lord was a good prayer – it made sense to me and it didn’t take too long. It was the same prayer every night, so it always went smoothly.
We passed the food around and ate and talked. I loved the food. Roast beef – Dad had a beautiful carving set with two long knives and a sharpener kept in a trim wooden holder. He had a fine carving touch. It was modestly ceremonial. He sliced it thin and made a very good platter. Mom made wonderful gravy and mashed potatoes. Then there would be a vegetable – peas, green beans, corn, or carrots. The good thing about Sunday dinner is that Mom would only serve those dishes that everybody liked. No spinach – she  didn’t want the hassle. No making a child finish his plate.
Dad had good table manners and the style of a gentleman, but he ate with extra gusto. He just enjoyed it too much. He tucked his napkin into his collar like a bib and dug in. Sometimes the juice would dribble down his chin, and Mom would  say “Father!”
“What’s for dessert, Mom?” I always wanted to know. She would tell me and then give me a look like it’s really not polite to ask that question. I was highly motivated about dessert. Of course I wanted to know what it was, and I wanted to make sure we would get it – not every day, because I never thought about tomorrow, but today, tonight. For Sunday dinner it might be pie or ice cream -- apple pie and cherry pie, most often, sometimes lemon meringue. She made a grape pie that was kind of interesting. And blueberry pie which was wonderful, but only in season.
After we finished eating dessert, we said grace after meals. This I thought was a bit unnecessary and the kids were losing focus and getting antsy, “We give Thee thanks, O almighty God…”
Being excused from the table was a firm rule. “May I be excused?” You had to say it, and you had to say it while you were still in your chair, but then you could dash.
Mom and my three sisters – whether they had a rotation or system I didn’t know – they cleared the table and washed the dishes. Dad gave a hand in the kitchen from time to time. I never heard anyone say that girls had to wash dishes and boys didn’t, it was just that way.
There was a swinging door between the dining room and the kitchen. First there was a pantry, with canned goods on the higher shelves, and tools in drawers underneath. Mom used to have me open cans on the wall-mounted can opener in the pantry. The tool drawer had a hammer and drill and screwdrivers. The other drawers held tablecloths and stuff like that which I didn’t care about.
Off the pantry was the downstairs bathroom. On the other side of the pantry was the door to the basement, and next to the door was the doorbell chimes. They were cool – two long brass pipes, one a bit longer than the other, hung from a slim framework. They gave a very solid, melodious ding-dong. The sound was so clear and present, yet so un-irritating. It was a marvel of technology to me that you could press the button outside the front door and get this nice sound announcing visitors. We didn’t have a lot of visitors, and relatives didn’t ring the doorbell when they came over, they just opened the door, kind of peeked their heads in, and then entered.
The kitchen was small and crowded. The cabinets were white enamel. We ate at the kitchen table. It was grey formica and chrome. Mom was in there a lot.  She was pretty and she had dark brown hair and good figure. I didn’t think about that because she was my Mom. I just knew she wasn’t fat or funny looking. I liked her. One time I got mad and told her I wanted Mrs. Giambalvo to be my Mom, because it was easier over there. I got a stern response, “Oh, really…” It was a passing thought anyway.
The Wolff’s house was messier with toys and comic books – more casual. Some other houses were stiff and formal – too clean. Ours was just right. I had chores – take out the garbage, not every day, but whenever she told me to do it. If I got to light a fire to burn the trash out in the alley, that was cool. But daily, it was set the table for dinner. That’s how I knew the number seven like it was the soul of my existence – seven plates, seven forks, seven spoons and seven knives, five glasses for the kids, two cups and saucers for Mom and Dad. Sometimes Dad was traveling on business, so there would be six. I checked on the count every night. Six was almost as much work as seven, so it didn’t matter, but sometimes one of the older kids was gone too, and it was five. Setting the table for five was easier and dinner time was less crowded. I had mixed feelings about this. I liked the crowd of seven, but five at dinner was a bit more spacious and relaxed.
There was more work and more rules than other parts of the house and there could be open conflict and scoldings in the kitchen. Mom got an electric can opener when I was twelve. I asked her why we needed such a gadget when the one on the pantry wall worked just fine. She said, “If you knew how many cans I’ve opened over the years, you wouldn’t be asking me.” She was very clear about boundaries like this. She loved me with a mother’s heart, but I was not welcome to discuss with her anything about her role. I was not her confidant. My job was to be a good kid, and a little gratitude was fine too. I didn’t ask too many questions.
I never heard her complain, or lament, or wish for things. If she had moods I didn’t notice. Angry – sometimes when I was small I would get a slap. This was not quite terrifying but it was bad. Her face contorted, she bit her tongue – it’s her face I remember more than the sting of the slap. She didn’t hug me or pet me either. There was a warm embrace of food always to eat and the kind I liked, clothes that showed up in my dresser drawer, all folded and clean. I knew she did the laundry, I was not to feel guilty about that. I was to feel that I was a good child and deserved these things. I deserved pie and dessert. The affection she showed me was never withdrawn, and never contingent, it was always there. It was not close, but it was constant. She never held the other kids up to me as an example. I never heard her make a comparison. So I never thought whether she loved Tom or Mary or Carolyn or Katy. I never thought whether she treated them good or bad. It never occurred to me. It only mattered how she treated me, and it was pretty good.
In the morning I had cereal for breakfast – Wheaties,  cornflakes, sometimes cream of wheat, but she had too cook it, and I didn’t like it that much. Pretty soon I settled into Cheerios with milk and sugar. For years I ate the same thing, but she always asked, “What would you like?” Breakfast was personal, for me. I didn’t know what the other kids ate. We didn’t play in the morning anyway, just getting off to school, so I hardly noticed them.
Dinner was the whole family. Being home in time for dinner was pretty important for the older kids. Dad loved to eat. He was poor when he was a child, so he told us, not with too much of the martyr, but he had a really wholesome gratitude for his full plate, and the self-satisfaction of knowing he could feed us all in pretty good style. Mom used to say something about “starving Armenians” but that was if we were gobbling and eating too fast. I had no idea who these people were.
Meat loaf, fried chicken, pork chops – everybody liked those dishes. Potatoes – mashed, baked, or boiled. Noodles with butter. Vegetables – peas, green beans, corn or carrots – still all clear. Then Friday was no meat. We had fried white fish, salmon croquets – I loved salmon croquets -- halibut, which was kind of dry and tasteless, shrimp, and sometimes lobster tail. You felt good about lobster tail dipped in melted butter. My Dad was not crass, like saying, “I worked hard to make the money to buy that expensive food.” He was not righteous or over-bearing, but we knew that he worked and that he was entitled. He could have said things like that. I’m glad he didn’t. I felt a little pride that we could have lobster tails once in a while. Fish sticks with tartar sauce – everybody liked those. Mom didn’t apologize, but she felt that fish sticks was not exactly cooking.
There were problem foods, vegetables we had too eat, number one being spinach. We were going to eat spinach when she served it. We were not going to leave the table or be excused until that small dab of spinach was eaten. Furthermore there was going to be a next time, in another week or two, when we were going to eat spinach again. She was unyielding, there was no mercy. You want to have a tantrum? You want to be stubborn? You think you can win? Dad backed her up. He had a pretty good presence, although he was a quiet man. I never, in my whole childhood, saw any wiggle room between those two. To play one parent off against another, this was something I did not even imagine.
So we ate the spinach. Broccoli and cauliflower smelled funny, but they were not too important. Mom kind of hoped that we could broaden our palates a bit, but we didn’t have to eat them. Liver was the same as spinach. It was good for us, and it would keep coming in the regular rotation, but here there was an important difference. I liked liver. Tommy and Katy hated it. They suffered. I smiled. I don’t think I gloated. I was even sympathetic in a superior kind of way.
Lentil soup was all right because Mom sliced up hot dogs and cooked them in the soup. I thought that was pretty smart of her. I fished the hot dogs slices and ate them first, but then I ate the soup, why not? Good for Mom.
Vegetable soup was a treat for Dad. Dad traveled on business. When he came home Mom fixed vegetable soup – you could see the pleasure on his face because it tasted so good to him and because with that meal Mom loved him the most. I understood that and I had no argument. Vegetable soup wasn’t awful like spinach, but it had parsley which was bitter, and funny looking pieces of meat. We ate it, but we sure didn’t look forward to it, and you could smell it ahead of time. We had corn on the cob in the summer and then Mom made bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches which were really good.
Dad was back up in the kitchen. He made meat and spaghetti, which was ground beef fried with onions and bits of bacon in tomato sauce served over spaghetti. I loved it. Several times a year he made crepes, only we called them egg pancakes. That was for lunch on the weekend, and a bit ceremonial, pouring the batter in the frying pan, stacking the light little crepes, rolling them up with grape jelly inside, and then sprinkling them with powdered sugar to make a platter. They were great.
Mom and Dad liked to go out, to downtown Chicago for dinner and dancing or to a show – Dad in a suit and tie and Mom smelling good and coming in to the kitchen to tell us they were off. She had already made us creamed eggs on toast – a simple meal for just the kids. They were happy and we got them out of the house. We must have behaved fairly well when they were gone, I guess Mary and Tom were sort of in charge. I was asleep before they got home.
I was aware of a family system that was in place when I came along, being the fourth child. It was not too tight and not too loose. There was no time except for seasons. Dinner time, come to think of it, was always about six p.m., but it was like Dad’s work schedule – never by the clock. It was always “Be home on time for dinner.” The clock only mattered for things away from home like school and going to Mass, and then it did matter. Dad could not stand anybody being late for Mass. Impatience was rare for him, but here you saw him dressed and ready to go by the front door fidgeting, and you didn’t want him to be that way. It was half fear and half why put the old man out?
The hell room was in back of the kitchen. It was an experiment to put the TV in there and Mom left it a mess with kids and toys all over the place. Mom and Dad got a little more quiet living room time, and we could fairly bust loose in the hell room – once someone broke a hole in the wall – but it didn’t really work. We were a little too wild, and they didn’t get to watch TV. They moved the TV to the back porch and that’s where it stayed.
The back porch was off the dining room, and that’s where we spent the evening, watching TV. Older kids did homework on the dining room table or upstairs or made their phone calls. We might listen to records in the living room or play a board game or something. In the summer, of course, we were out, but most of the year we were in the back porch. The pack porch was heated and insulated. It had fourteen windows on three sides. I know it had fourteen windows, because I had the job when I was older of taking down fourteen storm windows in the spring and putting up fourteen screens, climbing up and down the ladder. But first taking them out of the woodshed in the basement, stacking them by the garage, scrubbing them one at a time with hot soapy water, and then rinsing them with a hose. This took all morning and then some, on a Saturday.
In the fall I had to do it all again – take down the screens and put up the storm windows and the storm windows were big and heavy, and I never broke one. I never felt fair or unfair about my chores. I just did them. I don’t recall what my brother did. I knew my sisters helped in the kitchen. Raking leaves was cool. Mowing the lawn was cool especially when we got the power mower. And shoveling snow – that would make me feel good because, if it was a light snow, it was easy. But if it was a heavy snow then I could be proud of all the work I did. We had a long driveway all the way to the garage in back, but they never put the car in there, so I only had to shovel the front half.
A few times every year, we had Saturday chores for everybody. Often this was raking the leaves and it was fun, or when I was doing the storm windows and other kids were washing windows or something. Then Dad made potato soup for lunch, which was very simple – potatoes peeled and boiled, then cranked through a strainer, adding a little butter and salt and pepper. I liked it.
I loved watching television. We had a rattan couch and some informal upholstered chairs on the porch. The rattan couch had a square on one arm where you could put a drink, although no one ever used it. The other arm had an opening for newspapers and magazines.
There was a small effort to keep us sitting properly, but usually we sprawled. We could watch cartoons and kids’ shows in the afternoon after school, and more cartoons on Saturday mornings. Our favorite shows were “Our Miss Brooks” with Eve Arden, “I Love Lucy,” Sid Caesar and “Your Show of Shows,” Jackie Gleason. He was pretty stylish with the June Taylor dancers and “a little traveling music…and away we go.”
Mom loved the Loretta Young Show. Mom thought Loretta Young was the epitome of glamour and always wanted to see what she wore when she made her entrance. Then Mom would comment to the children about how much of lady she was in the way she moved and spoke. Dad liked Lawrence Welk – it was hokey, but it was only once a week. “Dragnet” was really cool. Sargeant Friday was tough and fair and on our side.
Sunday night at seven we watched Ed Sullivan. It was a bit formal and Ed Sullivan was a stiff, but it had just the right tone to please all of us – comedy and juggling acts for the kids, and the singing for Mom and Dad. Ed Sullivan introduced stars from the audience. That show was an anchor, it had a ritual structure.
But there were huge fights over the other shows. I remember some real screaming and hot tempers over what show to watch, and Dad getting irritated, even shouting at us to pipe down. Mainly we could watch as much as we wanted. Nobody had homework in grade school, and there were always friends coming and going and things to do outside. Nobody got depressively attached to the boob tube. Mom didn’t watch the soaps. I do remember “Queen for a Day” though, where some tearful, pathetic housewife got a new washer and dryer and a bouquet of roses. Mom’s life was much better than that.
Dad never sat on the couch, but on a chair next to it. It wasn’t his chair, like in the living room, but that’s where he sat. He drank Budweiser from a can, and if I asked him, he would give me a sip. I always liked the bitter, cold taste. I liked to hear Dad go “Ah” after a good guzzle. He farted out loud too, big loud ones. It’s a good thing they weren’t smelly. One time Dad tried to watch TV in his undershirt, but Mom wouldn’t let him. So there were standards, he could fart all he wanted, but that was it. Neither of them smoked.
We watched sports on TV, especially the World Series, and the Bowl games on New Year’s Day. I like the Gillette song, “You look sharp, dah-dah-DAH-dah-dah. You feel sharp…” That was a rousing tune. Mom could get animated and shout “Go” in a close game. Dad never moved. He liked to watch, but he didn’t care about sports, except fishing. He never tossed the ball around with us or taught us anything, or encouraged us. We could just play and have our fun.
A lot of shows were just like our house. “Father Knows Best” and “Ozzie and Harriet” – they lived in houses just like ours, same furniture, same Mom in the kitchen, same Dad in a white shirt going to the office, same kids. I was the irrepressible Ricky Nelson in “Ozzie and Harriet” because he was the younger brother. It all made sense. Jackie Gleason and the Honeymooners lived in that working class apartment. Jackie Gleason was a bus driver, and Norton upstairs was a plumber. We knew of people like that but not closely – people who lived in apartments or worked. That’s the way it seemed to me – they worked. The Dads on our block didn’t work, they went to offices and sat down at desks and that wasn’t work. It was important what they did, because they got a lot of respect. This puzzled me – because they didn’t actually work. The mailman worked. He carried the bag from door-to-door. The milkman drove his truck, and carried milk to the back door twice a week. That was job I understood. Well, it was no concern of mine. Mostly what grownups did was boring, although they were nice people.