Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 30, 2017


Another week with no Incoming.  It seems that since I have been making a deliberate effort to reduce the number of books coming into my house, every other week I have no Incoming to report.  I'm not sure why it has worked out like that.


I do have a belated Incoming to report.  How belated?  How does 71 years sound?

Today is my birthday and I think 71 is old enough to put me on the geezer bus.  I'm older than my father was when he died.  I'm older than my sister was when she died.  In fact I may be older than everyone else.  Except Crider -- that guy's older than dirt.

A lot has happened since I first came out among the top of the Baby Boom.  No flying cars, alas, but a bunch of other things.  When I was a kid, our television received just three channels -- local NBC, ABC, Educational Television outlets (this was before PBS).  Actually there may have been four since I'm not sure when Channel 9 out of Manchester, New Hampshire, began.  I distinctly remember the excitement when the local ABC station opened up.  Before that, it was radio, not that we listened to it that much except for weather reports from Boston's E. B. Rideout with his unique nasally voice (my father farmed, so weather reports were important).  We got our first television when I was four -- the first show he watched was Art Linkletter's House Party.  Those were the wild old days, before I settled in to a steady diet of Hopalong Cassidy (I even named a cow Lucky, after one of Hoppy's sidekicks).

We lived in a small town.  About 5000 people when I was born.  When I was in high school, the population had grown to over 25,000.  At one point it was the fastest growing town in the country.  And it was white and solid Yankee.  My father had to think for a second before calling some candies "chocolate babies" and saying "catch a tiger by the toe" in the eeny-meeny-miny-mo chant.  He had become a custom home building contractor, and once told me that he hoped a black family would not ask him to build a house in town because he was afraid of what that might do to his business; he would do it of course, he said, but to be the first person to break the color barrier would be a risky business move.  Thankfully, times changed quickly and the town changed with it.  Racism is still with us, sadly, but those who practice it are now firmly on the wrong side of history (and I include the alt-right and the neo-nationalist who seem to be enjoying a bright spurt but who will soon fizzle out into nothingness).  I should mention that a few decades before I was born, the first Catholic family moved into my home town -- something which pleased the local Ku Klux Klan (yes, we had them in New England, but they were long gone before I was born), because here was something they could get excited about.  Local lore has it that a cross was burned on their lawn -- evidently to no lasting effect because the vast majority of townspeople just wouldn't go along with that sort of antics.  Also, long before I was born, the town was staunchly Republican.  When one person changed her affliation to Democrat in a primary election because she supported one specific person, she was not allowed to change her status back to Republican; state law now mandated that the local Board of Election have at least one member of both parties -- since she was officially the only Democrat in town, she had to remain so and serve on the board.  Again times changed and when I was older, my home town tended to vote Democratic on local elections and Republican on state and national elections.

Over the years I have made it through the sexual revolution, Vietnam, economic ups and downs, civil rights, the computer and information explosion, abortion rights, gay rights, environmental rights, population explosions, and all manner of social and technological changes.  I went from solid Republican to wild-eyed liberal, flirting for a brief while as a Libertarian until I wised up.  I have gone from a firm belief in Christianity to a firm belief in mankind, and wonder if they might not be the same thing in essence.  I have survived Nixon and Reagan and both Bushes and may even survive Trump.  I pulled back the curtain to see each man behind it and found pettiness, bigotry, cruelty, and stupidity.  The Democrats were not much better.  Still I have faith and hope in the system because I have faith in us.

I'm certainly more mellow now.  I appreciate things much more.  I'm lucky that I have such a wonderful family.  I am grateful for all the people I have met along the way; each has had their own special spark of uniqueness that has had an impact, whether major or minor, upon me.  I'm thankful for animals (except for spiders -- burn them all with flamethrowers, I say!)  because they add so uch to the world and my life.  I am humbled by the vastness and complexity of the universe; the sky fills me with wonder.

I may revel in my snarkiness but my sense of humor is at its heart a reflection of my deep love for the world.

Astrology may be (and is) a steaming pile of male bovine excrement, but I am proud to be a Scorpio.

I am also proud to share my birthday with my wonderful niece Sarah, and with our dear friend Ellen  (who claims she's eighty but is actually younger than springtime), and with my high school classmate Pam.  I also share this day with Christopher Wren, John Adams, Richard Sheridan, Admiral Halsey, Ezra Pound, Charles Atlas, Ruth Gordon, Ruth Hussey, Fred Friendly, Louis Malle, Grace Slick, Henry Winkler, Andrea Mitchell, Harry Hamlin, Larry Wilmore, Nia Long, and (God help us!) Ivanka Trump.

Happy birthday to us all!