Growing up, my parents always taught me the importance of respecting my elders.
It was always Mr. or Mrs., never calling someone older than me by their first name.
If I called an elder by their first name, I was sure to get in trouble.
I chuckle sometimes these days when I hear kids calling their parents by their first names instead of Mom and Dad.
There were things we did in our lives back in the day that seem to be a lost art these days. My mom never wore a pant suit to church. She always wore a dress, even for the mid-week service. My dad always wore a suit with a tie on Sunday mornings, as did most men in the church. He wore greasy work clothes to his factory job during the week, but when it came to church, he was clean shaven and donned a nice suit.
God doesn’t condemn folks for wearing a pant suit or shorts and a T-shirt to church. My folks, especially my mom, lived by the creed of putting your best foot forward and wearing the nicest clothes you owned to church. It didn’t make them better people or more Christian, it was a way of life.
My dad always carried a pocketful of napkins everywhere he went. On Sundays, he would wrap up his billfold and comb in a napkin to keep any grease from his work clothes from getting on his suit. Today, like my dad, I carry napkins in my pockets and sometimes forget to take them out and they ended being washed.
My Tulsa neighbors to the south where Mr. and Mrs. Watson. I would have expected to get my backside swatted had I called them Frank and Lucille. The couple had a son named Johnnie who was about 10 years older than me and lived in California.
The Watsons gave me an Argus twin-lens reflex camera in the early 1970s that Johnnie had as a youngster. I got my start in photography using that camera and still have it to this day.
Mr. Watson was a Ford car man. He loved his LTDs. Our narrow driveways were next to each other and were divided by a strip of grass. The strip was maybe three foot across at the street and got wider as it went toward our detached garages.
Mr. Watson’s LTD was wider than his driveway, so he had to drive in the strip of grass, which created a mud hole. After work, my dad would go behind our garage and dig up a patch of sod and fill the holes and then water everything down, trying to get grass to grow. It never did any good as here came Mr. Watson, sloshing his way out to the street.
One day I was asking for it when my dad told me not to ride my bicycle through his mud hole, as I called it. Here I come to test that theory and rode right through his mud hole.
Dad grabbed me off my bicycle and proceeded to tan my hide. It’s the only time I remember my dad doing anything like that. It was usually my mom who ran the roost and took control of spanking my butt when I erred in life.
In the early 1960s, my folks had the kitchen remodeled. They had two pantries on either side of the refrigerator and inside one of them, my mom drew a circle just a little bit higher than my nose. When I got in trouble, which I did on occasion, I would have to stand on my toes and stick my nose in that circle for what seemed like an eternity. It probably wasn’t more than 10 minutes.
My mom wanted me to learn how to play the piano. It was her dream as a kid growing up in Missouri to play the piano, but my grandparents were too poor to own a piano.
When I was a youngster, mom baby sat some neighbor girls and a cousin and earned enough money to buy a piano. I started taking lessons in the second grade with an older cousin on my mom’s side of the family. I progressed to take lessons from Mrs. Murry in west Tulsa. I went on to participate in several recitals where I performed Handel's “Hallelujah Chorus,” twice, the Beatle’s “Let it Be,” and “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night.
I didn’t stay with the piano as I would rather spend my evenings and summers running around outside with the neighbor kids and school chums.
I have no regrets, just lots of good memories growing up in a loving, caring family who molded me into the man I am today. I will always be thankful to my parents for working so hard to give me and my brother, Tom, the best they could.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.