Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Math Teacher

My father in the center of the picture used to say, "If I had it do over again, I'd be a math teacher." Father, a factory worker at General Electric, reasoned that the pursuit of mathematics is an intellectual endeavor and did not require much equipment. Strangely enough his eldest son, the lad on the left, did become a math teacher. After a few years of teaching geometry, this son became a full-time science teacher. Teaching science does require a few pieces of equipment, which could regarded as sophisticated toys.

Monday, November 13, 2006

In Polite Conversation

In our house there were two things you did not do if, and when, you were spoken to by an adult. The first was to shrug your shoulders, and the second was to roll your eyes; particularly if you were within arms reach and silly enough to persist after sufficient warning. Every effort should be made to speak when spoken to with a thoughtful and pertinent answer. It wasn't hard once I got the hang of it and the world's worst was to be banished from conversation.

My Aunt Shirley, pictured here with my Uncle and Grandfather, just did not get it. She lived with my parents as she was growing up until she married, before I came along. Their relationship was one of parent and child. One afternoon I remember sitting at the table with my mom and Aunt, at that time with young children of her own. During the conversation she responded to a question from my mother with a shrug.

Oh geez!

My mom, giving her a second opportunity, rephrased the question at which time she rolled her eyes.

I ducked.

My mother, showing great restraint, responded quite nicely with "Speak ass; mouth can't!" My mouth must have hit the table. I don't remember my parents using "foul language" as it was called. Not only that, I wasn't really sure what it meant. My Aunt Shirley knew. It turned out to be a phrase coined by my Grandfather under similar circumstances. She made a nice rebound and my mom continued the conversation without skipping a beat, as if it has never happened.

I always wondered if my Aunt knew she was riding the ragged edge of disaster in those few seconds before my mom took that deep breath and said...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Changing Her Tune

This is my mom, Laura Gray. I am not sure of her age in the photograph, but I believe that she may have been 17. Laura was an intelligent, giving woman with a slightly wicked sense of humor. Although I cannot remember that she used many swear words, she did indeed have a colorful way of expressing herself. (See the September 16, 2006 entry.) One of example of this colorful expression was her response to bad drivers. Laura must have felt that she had a duty to let wayward drivers know that they should change their ways. Many times she would roll down her window and yell at the driver. “I bet that your mother comes out from under the porch and barks at you.” If the driver was especially inept, Mom would add, “You damn bastard.” I guess this last part was added to let the incompetent traveler know that she was really questioning his parentage in case he missed the first implication. This practice of trying to reform the driving population stopped when my mom overheard her two year old granddaughter singing this little ditty on our patio. The words to the song were simple, “Damp Bastar, Damp Bastar.”