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Visits with David Davis, The Watkins Family, The Crowe Brothers, The Marksmen Quartet, Archie Watkins and Carol Channing
Is Southern civility gone with the wind?
I have had some requests to revisit one of my most popular topics, so I hope it will bring you a smile, with some recent experiences I encountered relating to interaction with others, I needed one too.
I have been blessed to travel to many parts of the United States. But there is no feeling to me like crossing those imaginary lines created to define the South.
I breath easier. I worry less. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the portrayals of Southern gentility in Hollywood movies.
In 1939, there was nothing more shocking in film than Rhett Butler’s “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t ...” You know the rest.
In the 1960s, television gave us shows like “The Andy Griffith Show,” which were still gentile on and off the screen. I remember George “Goober” Lindsey once relaying a story about him saying a few off-color words while waiting for the next shot on the set. He did this in spite of a warning by actress Frances “Aunt Bee” Bavier , paraphrasing, “That we don’t speak that way on this set.” She pummeled him with her umbrella. He didn’t do it anymore.
“Civility” refers to the politeness we see every day. The things that make the day a little nicer. These are the things that most Southern parents instill in their children. At least I hope they still do. “Yes, sir,” “No, ma’am,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Respect your elders,” “Ladies, first,” and “Don’t cuss” are just a few of these civilities.
In my travels , I’ve been places where these acts are so alien to them they look at you like you’re from another planet. Where foul language flows like water from a faucet. Where if you stopped to show respect to a funeral procession, you would probably wind up in one yourself, in the lead car.
What is sad to me, in my recent travels around the South, I’m seeing more and more examples of Southern civility fading. The sales clerk or cash register attendant who ignores you or doesn’t respond to your greeting. The person who doesn’t respond to a kindness like holding a door with a “thank you.” Young people not showing respect for their elders. Foul language ringing out in public.
I don’t know whether these examples are due to a lack of parenting, a lack of respect for others, or the saturation of poor-quality TV, films and music in our society during the last few years. Variety of program choices is both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, language and visual images that wouldn’t make our series “In the Heat of the Night” in 1990 are now commonplace on the networks. I think Southern civility is becoming a victim of us trying to fit into what we are seeing on television and in film.
In recent years, Southerners in series television act more like transplants from Los Angeles or New York with a Southern accent. Considering that’s where they are probably from, it’s not surprising. The late Carroll O’Connor once told me that “we all say things to be polite.” For example, “Can I help you with that?” when someone is carrying a load, expecting, maybe hoping for, “No thanks, I got it.”
I hope we never lose that in the South. Kindness, politeness, Southern civility is not “Gone with the Wind.” It’s hopefully just swaying a bit in the breeze of popular culture. Maybe it’s just gonna take a few more Aunt Bee’s to remind all of us Goobers how things are suppose to be.
Numbers, what are all these numbers?
The year ends, the New Year begins and then like an avalanche of snow in winter, there they come – numbers.
All kinds of numbers begin covering me from head to toe. At least that is the way it seems to feel. Slowly, paperwork trickles in over the month of January telling me what I must report to the government and the state. Piles of receipts must now be sorted, itemized, added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided.
As I pour over the numbers, I come to realization that the height of enthusiasm that helped me ring out the old year was somewhat taller than it should have been.
My father use to have a sign hanging by his dresser saying “Why is there so much month at the end of my money?”
His humorous sentiment means more to me with each passing year as I glide through the rest of winter anticipating what is ahead for the coming year.
Each year as I go through this process, I promise myself to organize as I go. I have great intentions, but as time passes, the will becomes weak and the pile become taller.
Take heed my friends, take the advice of someone whose desk has Mount Everest and three volcanoes sitting side by side upon it. I say volcanoes because I never know which one is going to explode first scattering across the room extending my adventure into another day.
Take a few minutes each day, put away your receipts in a pre-organized file. Set aside a little time at the end of each quarter to organize and add up what you have so far in the important categories that are usable in your profession.
With just a bit of planning, you will enter the New Year and in no time everything will be ready to go to your accountant or tax preparer and you will miss out on all these piles of paper.
Let’s see, what did I spend $3.67 for in Louisiana? Was I even in Louisiana this year? I must have been. Guess it goes in the “Your guess is as good a mine” pile. I wish they had a line item for that on the tax form.
Well, in any event, may the whirlwind of numbers headed your way in the coming weeks find you in the black and hopefully the list will not string you along as everything adds up as it should.
Elly Mae and Little Jimmy
A love for critters of all shapes and sizes is one of the traits that audiences came to know about “Elly Mae Clampett.” That attribute combines along with her ability to whip Jethro or anything else that came her way that needing whipping.
She was beautiful to look at on TV and I spent endless hours being taken away from my childhood and pulled into the Beverly Hills world of Uncle Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly Mae. There were many days as a kid that I will say were less than fun for various reasons, ill health and bullies among them. But through the 30-minutes spent with these folks, their comedic antics pulled me into a smile and I would lose myself into their uplifting look on their experiences.
The late Donna Douglas provided such a beauty of innocence for “Elly Mae.” When I had the honor to become an actor and entertainer, I never imagined Donna would join my friends and encouragers.
The light I saw her portray and kindness she brought to “Elly Mae” were so much part of her. I saw it in her smile and in her willingness to share herself with all those who loved her. When I brought together a country music package adding Donna and Sonny Shroyer “Enos” from “The Dukes of Hazzard” to my show, she was such a gracious cast member.
She was definitely a child of God who showed His love in her everyday life. I am thankful to have known this great lady.
Another great friend who took his final bow in Nashville is the late Country Music Hall of Fame member Little Jimmy Dickens. With a country music career that spanned from the 1940s to the present, he was one of final links to early stars of the Grand Ole Opry, serving as its patriarch.
I met Jimmy on one of my first trips to Nashville and we visited at a performance at one of the local hotels. Jimmy was presented an honor by the organizers and at the time while he waited, he and I talked about his career.
He commented at the time that he had not really received that many awards in his career and each one was special for him. He asked me about what I hoped to do in my career, and I shared my dreams about my music and the future.
When I finished, he turned, looked at me and said, “You sure have the enthusiasm to reach your goals,” he said. “I think you will go far in our business.”
Our paths would cross again and again especially as I began guest starring for the Grand Ole Opry. He would always have a joke or a light-hearted word of encouragement for me.
Eventually, I was blessed to be able to not only produce Jimmy in the studio but record with him. I was proud to be part of his legacy and have him as part of mine. With Jimmy's departure, he takes with him some of the final shimmers and shines left in Nashville's glittering western suits.
Dreaming of the new year
A new year is upon us and with its arrival is the promise of another opportunity.
Perhaps it’s the practice of making resolutions, or the celebrations of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. I always see Jan. 1 as a new chance to do things more effectively.
So, let’s see what can I do?
The house, it needs to be kept cleaner, I can do that, let’s get started, vacuum hose in hand, dust cloth in back pocket, Pledge in the other back pocket. I need a bucket, full of water, with ammonia for the floors. OK that’s all ready, what else, where’s that extension to clean the dust off the fans? There it is. OK I need some Comet to clean the bathrooms, and a sponge.
Great, I am ready now, cleaner house here we come, but before I get started, its about lunch time, let me make a sandwich.
That’s another area I can improve. I should eat healthier - more leafy greens, and drink more water. OK lettuce on the sandwich… what else can I put on it? There is nothing else in here. I need to go shopping.
I need to more efficiently stock my kitchen. O.K. Let’s make a list. I will open all the cupboards and see what is missing. Peanut butter, I need that, soup is always good. What about spaghetti? What’s wrong with this pen?
Now I have to find a pen. There are none here so, into the office. I’ll check by the phone. I don’t know why, pens are never there when I need one.
Right, no pens. Look at this office, files everywhere. Look at that, I sat that file there last year and haven’t touched it. I really need to get organized in my office.
No better time to start than the present. We will start with this file on that mystery book, I want to finish. Hmm. I better take a look at this before I file it.
That’s a good story. Why haven’t I finished it? That’s it, that’s what’s needed, a twist to take us in a new direction. Let me just get this typed in the computer before I forget it.
I’ll get this new book finished in no time at all.
Boy, I am getting hungry. What did I do with that lettuce sandwich? Kitchen. I was hunting a pen. Here’s one.
Will you look at this mess, all these cleaning things in the middle of the floor. Look at the kitchen, cabinets open, refrigerator door open. It looks like I have been robbed.
I have got to get this place cleaned up, close the doors, the fridge. Now let’s get the cleaning stuff back where it goes.
Now, doesn’t everything look better? There is nothing like making things neater to give a new year prospective. I am still hungry, where’s that lettuce sandwich? Here it is. Look here’s a coupon on pizza delivery. That’s a great deal. Where did I put the phone?
May your 2015, bring to fruition all your dreams, but add one resolution to your list, make a difference in someone’s life, a child, an older person, or a new friend. Use this year to be the person you always dreamed of being.
The Christmas doll
The winter of ’34 in the valley below the Gravely Spur was an especially hard one. A Christmas snow had blanketed the valley, making travel through the mountain passes treacherous, even if taken by foot.
With one false step, even those who knew the routes by heart could find themselves slipping into a snow drift hiding a potential fall.
However, for most of the children of the valley the snow turned it into a winter wonderland. Pearl, Ruby and the Wood boys were finding whatever they could ride to go sledding down Turner’s gorge. At the bottom of the gorge lay a pond formed from Frog Leg Creek which was covered in a thick coat of ice almost strong enough for skating. No one had any skates so they would simply slide across on the soles of the new shoes they received when the crops were sold.
While the children were unaware, most of the parents of the valley knew that the reality of the year had left them all in dire straits.
Toys at Christmas were largely a luxury in the valley. Even the well-to-do families were having trouble this year. The customary apple, banana or piece of peppermint stick candy that most of the children found in their stocking might be missed this year.
Pearl had sensed the concerns of her parents and with six children and four share-cropping families to help, she knew her father was doing all he could that year.
The unexpected snow however made it difficult for anything not already on hand to be brought into the valley.
Still Pearl hoped that she might find a little something for her Christmas morning that she could call her very own.
As she was sliding on the ice, she listened as the Wood boys laughed about what happened to what they got the year before.
“I can’t believe what George did to our present last year,” Woody said. “We got a whole string of firecrackers to split between us boys and he nearly run us out of the house with them.”
“He got up early Christmas morning and found them. They had this long string running through connecting them, so he took that loose and was counting them and splitting them up so we all had the same amount,” he said. “He threw that long piece of string in the fire. That thing jumped back out right in the middle of his pile. You should have seen George when those firecrackers started going off in every direction. They even jumped up in the bed with the rest of us and got everybody up in the house.”
But in spite of the snow, Santa would be making his usual stops at the Gravelly Spur no matter what. Because of the terrain, this year he would only make one stop in the valley and all the neighbors would go by Christmas morning and pick up what he had brought for the valley children.
Santa’s helper in the valley was Rev. Ben Smathers, who waited patiently Christmas Eve for Santa’s arrival. As the families came to Big Lick Church Christmas morning, he would then, one by one, distribute the gifts and the community would then gather for a celebration of Christ‘s birth.
Christmas morning, Pearl was up early, anxious for the trip to the church. In her stocking she found an orange and a stick of candy. When the family arrived at the church, she joined the other children in line at the tree and stepped up to Rev. Smathers. He placed in her arms a little blonde doll in a woven basket lying upon a blue cotton pillow.
“It is so beautiful,” she said. “Is she really mine?”
“Yes, just for you my dear,” he said. “So you take good care of her.”
As she looked in the eyes of her new friend, Pearl beamed with the joy of Christmas.
It was not stacks of gifts which made her eyes glimmer and her face shine with the light of the season. It was one simple gift of her very own given by the heart of a pastor who knew without his help many children would do without that Christmas.
This Christmas story is from the book "A Mountain Pearl : Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes" by Randall Franks and available at randallfranks.com.
Lights are flickering and the halls are decked
Flickering lights shimmered in the breeze hanging from trees, light poles, porch eaves and buildings as I drove around my hometown last week.
It is such a heartwarming sight to see the efforts made both by our city staff and individual property owners to raise people’s spirits during the Christmas season. For me the warmth generated within by the beautiful decorations helps to make my hopes swell watching to see the goodness and kindness that so many exhibit during the season.
Many years ago I wrote a song called “Let’s Live Every Day Like It Was Christmas.”
The sentiment for me still rings true today. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the charity and good will that we see shown in the weeks around Christmas were part of our lives each and every day?
I have been blessed to know so many people in every walk of life, rich and poor, well known and unknown, mean-spirited and generous beyond measure.
I have seen some of the greatest of charity come from those who have the least to give.
I have seen some of the kindest actions given by those who are otherwise detestable.
Each year I watch countless individuals gathering toys to change the lives of children in our community. I saw my parents do this time and time again trying to encourage families who needed more than we did.
I have watched our church family gather to provide Christmas dinner, gifts and food and supplies to hundreds of families that would otherwise have a less merry season.
I see people smile more; they stop to open a door for someone with an arm full of packages, or allow another driver an opportunity to go before them.
Now that is not to say, there aren’t those who selfishly push their way around the season trying to get what they want without consideration for others. Many times, unfortunately,
these folks do live that way all year around.
It would not only be nice to live every day like it was Christmas but to remember that the greatest gift shared with us during the season was God’s love for all of us through the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.
Peace, love for one another and hopes for a greater tomorrow is within our grasp, if we only strive for it within our own lives, our own families and our own communities. When we put them all together, wouldn’t the world shimmer in the glow of Christmas lights that each of us might hang to raise spirits.
Family ties should not be broken
The importance of one’s family connections is something that I believe we are losing in America.
With each generation there are fewer individuals who live close to their extended families, unlike the days when grandma and grandpa lived just in the next room or uncles, aunts and cousins were a short walk down the road.
Many Americans today do not really know the members of their extended family. We spend a few awkward moments together at funerals, family reunions, Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings and then off we go back to our own lives.
As families build lives miles away from their home many grasp the anonymity of their new surroundings with fervor, often dreading when a distant family member might drop in, disrupting their lives.
Despite the fact that my parents chose to move away from their homes to build a life for themselves in Atlanta, I grew up in a home where our door was open to members of both my mother and father’s families. It was not unusual for there to be cousins stretched out on quilted pallets sleeping on the living room floor; uncles rummaging through the refrigerator for green dill pickles as a late night snack; aunts blanching red tomatoes from the garden in the kitchen; or distant kin moving in for an extended stay while they looked for a job or planned a new start.
Because of the time I spent with these people growing up, I feel a much closer connection to them; the shared experiences make chance meetings and gatherings less of a strain today.
It was not unusual for my Mom to get up and start cooking a batch of turnip greens, cornbread and some fried chicken, while cleaning the house from end to end. When asked why she was doing it, she would say “so and so” will be here directly. Sure enough, after a while they would knock at the door. My Mom has a second sense about that. With no forewarning she knew some relative was on their way.
Sundays were a big visiting day. It was not unusual for Uncle Harvey, Aunt Lois and all their kids to load up in the car and be knocking at our door before dinner. Sometimes Grandma Allie and Grandpa Jesse would come along for the ride.
Us cousins would spend the afternoon playing as the folks caught up on all the family news. We might ride over to the airport to watch the planes land or go downtown to sight see. We would eat dinner, and then they would load up in the car and head back up to Tunnel Hill.
I remember one trip when they came down to see Joe Don Baker in “Walking Tall.” Of course, us kids were not old enough to go to the drive-in and see it so we had a sleepover instead, while most of the adults took in the hit movie.
Just like their visits there, we also visited regularly. Despite the distance it was like we were one family experiencing life together rather than living separate lives and putting up with one another for a few hours at the holidays.
God has called many of those family members for an extended stay at his house. While they are absent here, the experiences still live within me, giving me a sense of the extended family even if there are fewer of them now than there once was.
The stories they told of relatives I never knew made those people alive to me. Through those stories many of my characters come to life on the page in columns and in scripts.
As this holiday season rolls by, take the time to experience more than just the ordinary. Help create an experience that will last for yourself and your children throughout the lifetime. It is not the number of presents, the lights upon the tree or the elaborate meal that will stick through time. It is the shared moments of life that will make the basis for what we know as family.
If we as a country do not work to strengthen our families individually what will the future hold for the American family as a whole? I guess we will be a country of individuals seeking a group in which to belong.
Seeing through the masks
Have you ever wondered what is beyond the face someone is showing you?
Is there another series of thoughts running through their head that is different than the words coming out of their mouth or the expression on their face?
There is probably not a soul on earth that has not faced a situation where someone they respected or liked for some reason revealed himself or herself as someone other than anticipated.
In a recent small group Bible study I attended, we discussed how in the South, it is not unusual to find someone who is so sweet and caring with an amazing ability to turn a phrase, adding “Bless their heart,” to deliver a socially acceptable put down. Others will often smile or sometimes roll their eyes, should they catch it.
As an actor, I am honored to understand that we all have masks that we use. We begin creating them in childhood to gain acceptance, love, and friendship from our parents, friends, and teachers.
We create them over time to help us succeed, allow us to get along, improve our relationships. By a certain point in life we have them for all occasions, almost like the clothes we wear. The spouse/loved-one mask, the parent mask, the close family mask, the kin but not close mask, the work mask, the club mask, the church mask, the close friend mask, the acquaintance mask, the those in the same business mask, the classmate mask and the list goes on and on.
We are so good at keeping them at hand, we can change masks in mid conversation if the social event requires it depending upon whom we are with.
The thickness of the mask relates upon how much we want the people we are with to really know about us. The goal is often to have the thickest mask with strangers and acquaintances, with the level thinning, the closer the friend or family member allowing hopefully for our heart to be seen more clearly.
When dating, we often begin with the thickest mask hoping that as we put on the thinner ones they will remember us putting our best foot forward and forgive what we really are like. In many respects, I think this works against that process but the process is repeated over and over again by each new hopeful seeking to find their soul mate.
As I have traveled through life, I have watched some of the greatest imitators of life develop and share the human condition for film and television. Watching them peel away their own mask and put on someone else’s for a role was an amazing learning process.
Through the years though, it has given me a great insight into the underlying intentions of those I have met and come to know.
I have found comfort in knowing that at least in my sphere of experience, you can generally tell when someone is earnest and honest in his or her deeds, actions and words.
I am still surprised sometimes though, often it is when I have not looked close enough at the wrapping to see beneath the mask and realize that what is beneath truly deserves to be hidden from the rest of the world. If we would see it, we would only desire to turn away.
At times there are those who pose with a smile, then slyly berate another or try to tear them down to elevate their own standing.
I wish I could say that people like this don’t exist, but unfortunately, they do.
These days, most bad folks don’t even bother to put a mask on except for those they are trying to evade being caught by.
But the neat thing is, at least from my experience, there are more good folks revealed when they remove their mask than bad folks. I pray you are one of the good folks, no matter which mask you are wearing, and I hope you always use your masks to uplift and encourage others
Adding color to one's roots
You might think I was aiming at getting you to pick up a bottle of hair dye and the drug store based on the title but my target is family roots, one's ancestors and finding the colorful characters in your history.
As I began my search for ancestors, I never knew what wonders the stories would open to me. Seeing history come to life through people to which I am related helped to make historical events more than just words upon a page.
I am sure that some of the tales have grown with time and the accuracy of some would not hold up in a court of law, but for the 10-year-old and avid history buff I was when I started, reading about an uncle who traveled with the Lewis and Clarke expedition or discovering a long lost branch of the family that no one knew existed gave me such a thrill.
My search carried me to homes where members of my family have lived since the country was founded. I have stood with a musket in hand on the battlements where my ancestors staved off the Cherokees when the United States were still British colonies. I have touched the soil which once ran red with their blood as they fell fighting the red coats.
There have been presidential candidates, congressmen, governors, state legislators, sheriffs, soldiers, cowboys, farmers, businessmen, lawyers, educators and even royalty.
With each turn of the page through another generation, my search would become more fascinating. A distant cousin enlightened me to an aspect of our family I never knew about how some of our ancestors from Portugal came to the Americas even before the Pilgrims settled in eastern North Carolina in the late 1500s. Their settlements were destroyed at some point, and survivors intermarried with Native American tribes and eventually migrated to the mountainous areas in western North Carolina and Southern Virginia, remaining together as a tribe. These folks became known as the Melungeons.
What young boy is not fascinated by the tales of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett? To find a link to one of these larger than life frontier men was a delight to me. One of my ancestors apparently was the mortal enemy of Daniel Boone. While that may seem a weak link, it only says to me that at some point in their lives these men were on opposite sides of a fight so they did know one another.
I am told one of my Confederate ancestors, Robert Shields, came to the fight when he was already in his 50s. He left behind a wife and 13 children, some of whom were already grown and had families of their own.
Shields was captured and sent to prison in Rock Island, Ill. Upon returning, he discovered that his death had been reported to his family earlier in the war.
His wife had re-married and re-settled in Alabama with a new husband. He then went in search of his wife. Only the wind now knows what transpired when he found her, but following the meeting, Robert returned to Georgia and started over. He married again. His second wife also gave him 13 children. He became a minister and started a church where he and his wives now rest.
Yes, both wives. After the death of his first wife’s second husband, he brought her home and built a place for her. He looked after her until his death.
I stood at the foot of their graves only wishing I could hear the real story told.
Once our loved ones are gone, however, we are left with only the paper trail and some remnants of memories in the wind.
While history is a wonderful place to spend time seeing the colors that make up your family tree, if you would like to know the story of your family, start with those around you. Holidays like Thanksgiving is a perfect time to get the ball rolling. Don’t forget that those stories which are right at your fingertips will one day be history, too. One day, you might just wish you had written them down.
The advantage of knowing how to cook
When I was growing up one talent that both my parents stressed I should acquire was learning to cook for myself.
Perhaps it was their foresight that it would not be easy to find women in my generation willing to dedicate themselves totally to cooking, cleaning and raising children, or perhaps it was my mother’s independent spirit as someone who was before her time.
My mother began operating her own restaurant when she was in her 20s, so needless to say she was a career woman long before I entered her life.
I think she knew that more and more women in my generation would be entering the workforce and spending more time in the workplace.
However, with my arrival and due to some of my unforeseen health issues, she left the business world to look after me until my health improved enough for her to work again full time.
As I grew I helped out all I could, and one of my chores once she returned to work was to help with evening meals.
With her help I learned to cook a variety of dishes from Hungarian goulash to Southern style meatloaf. My favorites were the sweets, pineapple upside down cake, pecan and sweet potato pie, which of course barely lasted to the table.
When I was around 13-years-old I had the opportunity to solo on my very first holiday meal — turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potato yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, slaw and pumpkin pie. Of course, like any good teacher she quietly coached and helped with some of the odd jobs like peeling potatoes, grating the cabbage and carrots, opening cans, and of course getting the turkey started soon enough to be done by meal time. You know, if you do not take that thing out of the freezer a day before you’ll be having fried Spam instead.
One thing that to this day I just cannot deal with is those little turkey giblets you put in the gravy. I think gravy is just fine without them swimming in the gravy boat.
For the occasion we invited our neighbors, Millie Dobbs and Bessie Yarbray, to join us.
I was also in charge of setting the holiday table with our finest linens, bone china, crystal glasses and silver ware. These were always reserved for special occasions and guests.
I will never forget my excitement as the meal was set on the table and the guests arrived to see what I had done.
The image looked like it could have come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
I am pleased to report that everyone said they enjoyed the meal and the portions evidenced that. As far as I know there were no late night visits to the emergency room, so I guess you can say the event was a success.
I also may have been inspired to pursue this endeavor by the fact that my brother’s wife could not boil water. They spent many evenings sitting around our table.
As an adult these lessons have served me well, and while cooking is no longer what one might call a passion for me, I do know how. As long as food is available in the absence of someone desiring to cook, I won’t starve. As years go on, I am sure that will be plain to see as I develop an ailment, which afflicts many of my kinfolk, Dunlap disease. My belly dun lapped over my belt. Bon appetite!
An Evening Among Friends
The sun swept across the dark wood floor forming a light spot in the shape of a heart that I noticed as my mother buzzed around the room with dishes in her hand setting the table.
On the kitchen stove, pans were gurgling as meatballs simmered in a sauce, angel hair pasta boiled with a hint of basil filling the air.
The evening was close at hand and she was expecting the neighbors over for a light spaghetti dinner and an evening of cards and conversation.
In the fall prior to election, the conversation often leaned more to political strategies of mustering the neighbors and friends to get out and campaign or vote for one of the candidates my mother was sold upon. After election, the dialogue kept to local gossip and plans for the holidays.
For me an evening such as this meant I would be relegated to the children’s table for supper and the other children and I would be occupying us in another room with a board game of some nature.
While I didn’t mind these evenings generally, unfortunately, often times my mother’s friends had an abundance of female children. While I guess that wasn’t unfortunate to them, for me, that meant in addition to being relegated to eating with them at the children’s table and minding my manners, I would have to mind my manners all evening as we played. With the girls, there was no running like wild Indians, no rough housing, we played civilized games such as Go Fish, Monopoly, Operation, Life or whichever board game suited my guest’s fancies.
Cheating was out of the question in these circumstances. I was the host; I had to make sure everyone was following the rules including me. This action sometimes got me into some very heated discussions with my guests. I realized that sometimes girls were not the frills and lace I was led to believe, as some of them would get right mean when they didn’t get their way.
If it had been a guy, we could have settled our differences with a short wrestling match or a few exchanged fists, with the victor getting their way in the disagreement and the game continued. You couldn’t do that with the girls. They might have won and then I would have never heard the end of it. Of course, I am kidding, I was taught not to fight with a girl, even though a few of them needed a whoopin’, I would have to leave that to their folks.
Now that is not to say a girl didn’t hit me a couple of times in these engagements. They did and then they would escape to the safety of the living room where the adults were engaged in civilized pursuits.
Did I ever do the same, well, let’s just say, I usually found a way to get even by pulling a return prank of some description.
After all it was my job to see all the kids had a good time. If one was acting out of line, the best way to accomplish a good time were to bring the askew kid back into plum with the rest of us. Sometimes that took some creative comeuppance.
Despite whether my guests were female or male, I did always enjoy these times when I was asked to entertain. It was an opportunity to learn some of the basic expectations for treating friends in your home,
So friends, have you taught your children and grandchildren how to be a host. Not just a friend but also a host in their home. Depending on your customs and traditions, such a skill can lay the groundwork for opportunities in which they will serve them both in their daily lives at home and work.