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The Moon Came Out Early Today - Happy Anniversary Apollo 11! #moon #1969

AliceblogThere'll be think pieces galore today, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. I was 5 and watched it, for some reason, in my dad's bedroom on a tiny portable silver Sony tv. Being 5 I don't know that I had that much sense of how spectacular it was - a kid with a vivid imagination has already been to a dozen other planets by the time he's 5. :) 

Anyway, you'd think my favorite moon related thing would be the famous New Yorker cartoon I've posted here (so brilliant!) but, really, my favorite "moon" thing is the mention of it in the SNL Lisa Loopner sketch with Gilda Radnor, Bill Murray, Jane Curtain, and Dan Ackroyd. Not the same type of "moon" of course, but my favorite nonetheless. 

Happy 50th Apollo 11! 


Johns and Marys 4: The Swing Set

Johns and Marys v2This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw (as quoted by Mary S. on LinkedIn)


I have said many times in my life - sometimes humorously, sometimes when I'm in the depths of emotion - that my life should serve as a "Don't Let This Happen To You" warning. There's the time I found myself halfway between Reno and Salt Lake in a dead Hyundai with a car load of stuff including a computer monitor owned by my best friend who was, at the time, moving from Chicago to San Francisco. That's a story for another day. If I continue to do this chronologically, that'll be awhile, but worth it, I think. It's one of my favorites. 

And, you know, today's blog is also one of my favorite stories that speaks to the DLTHTY theme - the story of The Swing Set. 

You see, we had a big backyard and although we mowed the grass, we didn't really didn't do a lot of upkeep on our garage, the pink blocked patio, the metal swing set, the sand/needle box and other things like a metal shed that I made it one of my young life's missions to keep organized. My other projects, btw, of this kind were in the attic and the basement. The treasures I have found over the years in our attic included an envelope with the negatives from my mom's and dad's wedding reception in 1953 and some cool self help books from the late 60s. (BTW try as I might I cannot remember if Dr. Tec's "Fear of Success" was in our bookshelf, but if I ever made my childhood into a movie, I sure would have me thumb through it. Because foreshadowing and stuff).  I guess it was like most big backyards in the Midwest - a rusting this or that somewhere on your property, scattered bikes or toys, and a general ease about the life being lived there. It's not like east coast backyards that are, comparatively, virtually English gardens. 

Anyway, I have a sort of flap on my tongue that stems from an early childhood moment of Stupid. Here goes. 

Linda was my best pal/playmate from an early age. She lived in a large rambling house with her mom and dad and several older brothers and sisters. They had an enormous yard and a creek (which we all called "The Crick") next door where all the kids from the neighborhood would swim in the summer. There was a bunch of kids on River Road where I grew up but she was the only one exactly my same age. 

64cd3f43e8ef2f793b83c1c7279dac91Anyway, most times, I (and everyone else) would go over to Linda's house to play, but this one time during a very cold and grey winter day when I was 4 or 5, Linda was over and we were running around in the snow playing on the swing set. Like all kids we teased each other. Well, she was kind of hogging the one and only swing. At one point, I suggested we go over to the sand/needle box, and, so, she got up and we raced over to it... except I was convinced she was going to double back and retake the swing, so I doubled back and lurched towards the cold metal swing set, tripping ever so much that I went head first into one of the supporting poles. And, as I gave a 'yelp', my tongue found itself lodged on the cold metal. 

When you're 4 or 5 and your tongue finds itself lodged on any surface, the natural reaction is to yank it off. 

Yeah, I did that. 

... and then the pain began and the blood started to pour out, filling my mouth, and then, when I opened my mouth, creating a stream of red in the fresh snow. As I ran towards the house in a panic, I looked back at a dumbfounded Linda and a definite trail behind me.  Yeah, it was pretty awful. 

I don't remember much after that. Not sure if I passed out or what but the next thing I remember, I was laying in my dad's bedroom with the TV on. I think there must have been an ice pack on my tongue to stop the bleeding and I was pretty freaked out. My sister, Lynn, created a little paper doll puppet show from a book of Cinderella paper dolls she had. It was pretty cool. She'd loved the version of Cinderella that had been on TV a couple years earlier which starred Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. Damon would go on to portray Alan Quartermaine on General Hospital for over 30 years. 

Not that this needs to be said - but I'll say it anyway - when your tongue gets stuck on a metal surface, don't yank it off. And, also trust your friends. Also: don't play on the swing set in the winter, why would you be doing that anyway? LOL

And although my sister and I have had our share of good and rocky times, I never will forget that act of kindness. 

Why, you might ask, is this one of my favorite stories? Well, mainly because when I tell it, I'm able to enjoy the look of horror on the other person's face at the thought of it happening. There is a weird pleasure in that. LOL 

So that's today's story, please leave a comment if you feel so moved. 

In the meantime, I'll be back tomorrow and throughout the week with more thoughts and stories. 




Johns and Marys 3: The Gasoline

Johns and Marys v2I grew up on a country road two miles out of the 'city' of Mosinee. The road hugged the banks of the Wisconsin River and we sat on a couple acres with an ample front and backyard. Our backyard meshed in with a large pine forest which gave way to fields and the River itself. This space allowed my imagination to run wild and I felt as though I had the world at my beck and call. I could climb trees, explore the wild brush (one year I discovered wild black raspberries), the base of an abandoned silo, and so much else. 

The backyard itself had a metal swingset, a patio with a large oak tree growing out of the middle of it, and a rarely used sandbox that someone somewhat unwisely thought to place under a cluster of four tall pine trees thus making it more of a pine needle box than a sand box. Later, I would be the one to mow all that grass but I seem to remember rather enjoying it especially the year we got a riding lawnmower. 

I'll get to an 'adventure' I had on the swingset in another post, and the sandbox holds no stories (sadly) but the patio was the focal point of my first big childhood emergency - the day I drank gasoline. 

This patio was made up of these pinkish rectangular tiles, and on the patio sat a rusted lawnchair and a semi rusted grill. I don't remember the family using it very much, so it was kind of a big occasion when my dad would fire it up. I remember it being a particularly hot summer day and I was doing my thing - I had playmates with kids from the road, but I always felt a little silly sharing my 'pretend' with them especially since it would include me creating a TV schedule of all the shows I liked the most. I dreamt that I could create one station where all the best stuff was on..... I created a logo and everything and would do promos in my head. I was very much a child of the TV generation. 

Anyway, on this particular day, I had been running around and, as is normal on a hot summer day, got thirsty. Dad was grilling and I noticed that he had a bottle of 7Up on the little shelf on the side of the grill. I saw him step away and figured he wouldn't mind if I "snuck" a swig of his soda. 

7upI glug glug glugged and then stopped. It didn't taste right. So, I did what anyone would do when they taste something that doesn't taste right - I glug glug glugged some more. 

That's when it hit me that what I had just drunk was gasoline. 

For some reason, rather than having a can of lighter fluid, my dad poured some gas into an empty bottle of 7Up. I never did find out why but there it was, bubbling around in my stomach. 

In a moment of blind panic, I tore across the gravel driveway that circled the house and raced in through the back door of the house and into the kitchen where everyone was making conversation. 

Once they found out what had happened, my mom grabbed me and we dashed off to the car. The Mosinee clinic was, at the time, just over the bridge in a tiny office on the main street.

My mom suffered from some nervous conditions, but on that day and in that moment, she was calm, cool, and focused on getting me to the doctor's office.

Someone had called ahead and once we arrived, they rushed me in and got me into a tiny room. Soon, plastic tubes were being inserted up into my nose. I could feel them snaking down the back of my throat. 

And then they started to pump. 

Well, it all came up fairly quickly as tears wear streaming down my face. 

Afterwards, we went next door to Mueller's Drug Store and mom let me pick out a coloring book. I chose one with an owl dressed as a sheriff (how I remember that, I'll never know). 

In later years, when my sister and brother would tease me about it, I would point out that the gasoline was in the 7Up bottle, but they'd come back with 'yeah, but you drank it TWICE!" 

I cannot argue with that, unfortunately! LOL