Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Kids”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015 – “Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015

Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby

say my name

I WAS JUST LOOKING AT THE LIST of the most popular names for newborn babies in 2014. For 2015 I assume we won’t know for a while what names will make the Top Ten.

When I first saw the list of girl’s names I was struck by how “traditional” and even 19th century many of them seemed.

Sophia? Emma? Emily?

I guess the trend of recent years for “new” names or names that had a more nontraditional flair has waned at last.

I know of two families that have daughters named “Brooklyn.” Personally, I would no sooner name my child Brooklyn than I would name her East St. Louis or Beaver Falls (The town where I grew up).

Names like Sophia, Emma and Emily carry elegance about with them. They conjure up a gentler, and more polite, time. When I hear Brooklyn I think of black and while newsreel footage of crowded streets and Ebbet’s Field – Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I can almost smell the cigar smoke and perspiration. (I’m gonna hear about this – I just know it.)

Here is the complete Top Ten List of Girl’s Names for 2014, courtesy of BabyCenter.com.

  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Isabella
  6. Mia
  7. Zoe
  8. Lily
  9. Emily
  10. Madelyn

There’s not a Brooklyn or an East St. Louis among them.

I recall that a few years ago the name “Madison” was a very popular choice for both boys and girls. There are a number of names that do double duty, but the only reason this sticks out in my memory is that once, during an interview with some sportscaster, Giants’ Pitcher Madison Bumgarner mentioned that he once had a date with a girl who was also named Madison Bumgarner. He claimed that they were not related, but he grew up in a small town in North Carolina. I’m just saying…

Doubling up on both names just raises eyebrows and visions of children running around with extra thumbs.

All of these girl’s names are incredibly better than what Inventor and Aircraft Designer, Bill Lear (The Lear Jet) did to his daughter. He saddled his baby girl with the first name of “Shanda.”

10 Most Popular boy’s Names for 2014

  1. Jackson
  2. Aiden
  3. Liam
  4. Lucas
  5. Noah
  6. Mason
  7. Ethan
  8. Caden
  9. Jacob
  10. Logan

The one thing that leaps out at me about this list of boy’s names is that several of them are, what I would consider to be, last names or family names.

Nos. 1, 4, 6, and 10 are not first names.

Take no. 1 for example.

Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that little Jackson’s last name is “Thomas.” Years from now he will be asked to fill out some forms for a job or for some government program and they will ask that he do so “Last name first.” He will dutifully fill in the blanks with “Thomas, Jackson.”

I freaking guarantee that the clerk who is processing his paperwork will see that and think that Jackson is an illiterate fool and trashcan his application. He will not get the job, become disheartened, fall in with a bad crowd, and descend into a life of crime and despair. All because his parents got cute with his name.

Numbers 4, 6, and 10 – I’m sorry to say, but you’re screwed.

And number 8 – “Caden?” That’s not a name. It sounds like a dental term. “I’m sorry; Jackson, but you have a bad case of Caden. It’s going to be painful and expensive.”

Of course, as was the case with the girl’s names – it could be worse.

I do know of a young boy here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My first name is Pierre.”) who has the legal first name of “Buckshot.”

Is that a crime statistic in the making, or what? Why not just name the kid, “The Defendant.”

I do believe that parents should be able to name their kids as they like, but if you’re going to give your child a stupid name, I think that the clerk authorizing birth certificates should be legally empowered to take Daddy and Mommy out back and slap them silly upside the head.

Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

18 For Lunch

phone booth crowdedIT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CARRY ON A CONVERSATION over lunch when there are 18 people huddled around the table. It can be hard enough when there are only two people, but the additional sixteen can really throw a monkey wrench into the process.

It ends up sounding something like this:

“So, how have you…seen my green beans, they…flew in last Thursday on…your Aunt Martha just before she…slid into third base.”

Eighteen was the headcount at our Family lunch down in Texas last week. Six orders of Catfish, Four Chicken Fried Steaks, Two Fried Shrimp, Five Fried chicken and one Salad Bar.

Somebody had to keep the cholesterol count down.

When you get together with the family it can be a real crowd and, while they are a lovely bunch, I grew up in a different set of familial circumstances.

My father was an only child and his father was an only child as well. That fact right there seriously cut into my count of cousins, aunts and uncles. I was one of two children and my brother had two daughters.

The Norman Rockwell picture around the Thanksgiving table is turning into a snapshot at the lunch counter.

On my mother’s side of the family they were more fertile. She had three sisters and one brother who made it to adulthood. My Uncle Tony was a great guy who was never married except to his job selling cold cuts at the Central Market and golf. Aunt Nellie was married to Uncle Paul and I think one of the conditions of the Potsdam Conference was that they never have children.

For a next generation on that side of the family we must turn to Aunt Annette and Aunt Anne. They both had two kids each. Of those four only one – Cousin Florence got into the baby production game. She had, if I recall, five or six kids. The other three cousins had a grand of one and even that is more or less an apocryphal child. Nobody has seen that cousin for thirty years, so there is no concrete proof like fingerprints, wanted posters or an appearance on “America’s Most Wanted.

You put all of this together, and the knowledge that those kids are scattered from California, to Ohio, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and you can see that getting 18 around the table for lunch would necessitate hiring some extras to sit in for dessert.

So, you can see why I relish the blessing of squeezing around the table with them. I have married into this family that has accepted me and welcomed me – even though I see them sneak a peek at me every so often with that look that whispers, “There’s something funny about that boy”

By marrying into the family I have become a Texan-in-law and I think that has some kind of real legal status. It’s not on my Driver’s License or anything, but I know that it does entitle me to swagger on certain holidays. Of course, with my limp and galumphing stride, any swagger I have could easily be mistaken for an attempt to walk while under the influence.

 

Throwback Thursday from April 2015 – “Support Your Local Kool-Aid Stand”

Throwback Thursday from April 2015

Support Your Local Kool-Aid Stand

kool_aid_stand

The other day the temperature got into the 70s and I was actually able to go out wearing one of my Hawaiian shirts (Wal-Mart Wonders) without feeling cold or having people stare. They do that anyway, but we’ll save that for another day.

The warm air made me think of my youth. By youth I mean age six to twelve or so – those years when you do stuff just because it is fun and not because you think it will fool your parents.

I grew up in a small steel mill town near Pittsburgh. Back then there were five mills operating. We lived two blocks away from one of them.

Every summer my brother Jimmy and I would try to come up with some way to earn some money to cover our vital needs (Candy, Baseball Cards, Soft Drinks – aka “Pop,” and miscellaneous inexpensive toys).

One scheme we used almost every summer was the Sidewalk Kool-Aid Stand. Our house was situated at the top of a hill, a two block walk up from the steel mill. The workers would finish their shift, walk uphill, and encounter our oasis of ice cold Kool-Aid. What a racket we had going there. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. These guys were dead tired and we were there with cold drinks that had enough sugar in them to kill a diabetic.

“Ten cents a glass! Get your ice cold Kool-Aid right here!”

We did alright with that little enterprise. Our secret weapon to increase the profit margin was to look innocent and pretend that we couldn’t make change for anything above a Quarter.

“Aw, keep the change, kids.”

That Kool-Aid stand was our tried and true operation for several summers, but it was not the only thing we had going. Not by a long shot.

Just up the block was what would today be called a “Senior Citizen Community.” We called it an, “Old Folks Home.” On those hot and sultry summer days their front porch would be packed with people trying to cool off. I saw them as an opportunity.

We didn’t make Kool-Aid deliveries, so we came up with another business plan.

What do hot, sweating people want -To not be hot and sweating, of course? A quick trip uptown to the store that sold Art supplies, back to our big dining room table, and presto!

“Don’t Sweat – Get Cool! Get your own personal, handmade fans, right here! Only ten cents!”

Just about everything we sold was “ten cents,” and, of course, we had that same problem making change.

The fans were made from heavy duty construction paper and really did work quite well. The Old Folks cooled off and we had enough cash to buy some cheap balsa wood airplanes to throw around until they either crashed and broke or got run over by one of the steel hauler trucks that drove past the house every day.

I also tried selling newspapers to the Old Folks, but that fell apart once they realized I was selling them yesterday’s papers.

Not every idea can be a winner.

These businesses faded away as I got older and started spending my money on things like girls and Aqua Velva. When you are eight years old and kinda cute you can get away with things that just don’t work when you look like you need a shave.

A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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Fiction Saturday- from Guest Blogger -The Bluebird of Bitterness

Fiction Saturday  – Guest Posting from the blog “Bluebird of Bitterness.”

 

https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/

Summertime classic: Letter from summer camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

We’re having a great time here at Lake Typhoid! Scoutmaster Webb is making us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and got worried. We are okay. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Please call Chad’s parents and tell them he’s okay. He can’t write to them because of the cast.

We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for all the lightning. Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn’t burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We’ll be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said with a car that old you have to expect things to break down. That’s probably why he can’t get insurance on it. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, he lets us ride on the tailgate. Don’t worry, he’s a good driver. He’s even teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn’t any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming in the lake. I didn’t go because I can’t swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so Scoutmaster Webb let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad that we didn’t wear life jackets.

Guess what? We all passed our first aid merit badges! When Dave jumped in the lake and cut his arm on the rocks, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Wade and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in prison.

I have to go now. We’re going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.

Love,

Billy

P.S. How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

Coupons 2TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

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Coffee And Cake At 7 AM

cake1ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – maybe the most interesting part – is taking time to observe the children. Take a moment to watch a three year old when they first see all of the colorful and glittering lights.

I never knew eyes could be that big.

The look on the face of a Little One must be similar to when the first self-aware humans looked up at the night sky.

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Throwback Thursday – I Meant To Do That – Really

Throwback Thursday 2

From September 2015

I Meant To Do That – Really

frankenstein monsterIMAGINE WHAT A DULL AND BORING WORLD it would be if there were never any accidents. I don’t mean those accidents like plane crashes or ships sinking – no, those kind of accidents we could do without. I’m thinking more in the line of “I’ll be darned. How did that happen?”

Some of those small, seemingly innocuous, accidents can bring about world shaking changes. Others just elicit a giggle, a snigger, and a chilled bottle of wine – things important in their own way.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Throwback Thursday1

Decaf Day Care

daycareONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE about going into St. Arbucks for coffee in the morning is that I never know what I’m going to see.

“St. Arbucks is like a box of Forrest Gumps.”

One day it’s filled with tourists just passing through. The next it is an invasion of college athletes in town for a game. Then yet another day and the place is converted into a Daycare Center for stir-crazy, caffeine deficient Mommies and their little children of Beelzebub.

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Who Is Having A Baby?

baby 1RONNIE WOOD OF THE ROLLING STONES IS EXPECTING A BABY? No. He and his wife are expecting twins. Ronnie is 68.

The other day I was having a conversation down at St. Arbucks with one of the Usual Suspects about Ronnie Wood – daddy to be.

My guess is that Ronnie has been itching to top Mick Jagger at something for a long time. Ronnie fathers a child at 68 while Mick’s youngest joined the world when Mick was 56.baby 2

Sorry, Ronnie, but Mick, born in 1943, is a great-grandfather. Mick wins.

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Throwback Thursday from 2/5/2015

dba7f76a-e54f-4868-aa6c-0badec6bc3ed

I Got Your Measles Right Here

Measles-Quarantine-Sign

Boy, there is a real hoo-haw going on about whether or not kids should be immunized against a number of diseases.

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What Can A Person Say?

Noir Sax PlayerSOME DAYS THERE’S NOTHING GOOD YOU CAN SAY.

We were in Texas for Christmas and New Year and less than three weeks later we were back. This time it was not for a celebration or holiday. This time it was for a funeral.

A phone call on a Saturday with the news that a niece had passed away – very suddenly and unexpected. And on Monday we start on our way back to Texas.

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The Annual “Down The Hall” Family Update

IT’S TIME AGAIN FOR OUR ANNUAL “DOWN THE HALL” FAMILY UPDATE!

This has been a busy year for the whole “Down The Hall” Family. As you can see by this first picture we are all heavily armed now – just in case (wink, wink!)Bad Christmas Family-Photos-Santa-Guns

This year the older kids finally got jobs that didn’t involve wearing paper hats. Little Junior is now working for the State of Indiana. He is an “Automotive Identification Engineer,” making license plates at a state facility near Plainfield. We are so proud.Indiana Prison

His baby sister, Trixie, has gone far afield for an internship in Nevada. She’s always been interested in sports and she tells us about all the NBA players she has met.

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I Meant To Do That – Really

frankenstein monsterIMAGINE WHAT A DULL AND BORING WORLD it would be if there were never any accidents. I don’t mean those accidents like plane crashes or ships sinking – no, those kind of accidents we could do without. I’m thinking more in the line of “I’ll be darned. How did that happen?”

Read more…

Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby

say my nameI WAS JUST LOOKING AT THE LIST of the most popular names for newborn babies in 2014. For 2015 I assume we won’t know for a while what names will make the Top Ten.

When I first saw the list of girl’s names I was struck by how “traditional” and even 19th century many of them seemed.

Read more…

Run That Past Me Again

20150710_181342I WAS INSIDE THE LOCAL Toys-R-Us store last Friday evening. My wife, the lovely and more socially adept, Dawn, was going to a baby shower on Saturday and wanted to pick up a few small items. I was going along to carry the bag. I’m good at that.

As Dawn was actively looking for the right stuff I was just wandering along and looking around with a lost look on my face.

And, oh, what wonders did I see.

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Decaf Day Care

daycareONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE about going into St. Arbucks for coffee in the morning is that I never know what I’m going to see.

“St. Arbucks is like a box of Forrest Gumps.”

Read more…

Support Your Local Kool-Aid Stand

kool_aid_stand

The other day the temperature got into the 70s and I was actually able to go out wearing one of my Hawaiian shirts (Wal-Mart Wonders) without feeling cold or having people stare. They do that anyway, but we’ll save that for another day.

Read more…

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Boy named Sue

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Quite a bit actually. The names we have can go a long way to deciding our direction in life. If a name wasn’t all that important you wouldn’t see actors and actresses changing their names as they enter the business.  Example: Famous actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg came into this world as Caryn Johnson.

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