Reading time: 2 minutes maybe
Was a Time...
THEN AND NOW
by Jay Speyerer
One day back in the late 1950s, two
of my neighbors up the street, John and Debbie, set up a lemonade
stand. Their mom was hovering nearby, supervising the setup
of the card table, change box, paper cups, and pitcher of
goodness. And it was good lemonade. Sweet, tart, lots of ice
cubes. I was around ten, and my friends were seven or eight.
I paid my dime and was nursing the cup, just hanging around.
Then an older man – that geezer had to be at least 20
– bought a cup, drained it, and handed it back. John
promptly dumped the ice cubes frugally back into the pitcher.
Nobody batted an eye. Not their mom, not the geezer, not even
me. (My eyes noticed, but they didn't do any batting.) I think
I remember their mother warning John not to do it again, but
not much was made of it. Make no mistake, their mom was smart.
I don't know if she went to college, but I always had that
impression. She was a stay-at-home mom, but in those days,
what mom wasn't?
Today, the health department would have dispatched black helicopters
and, at the very least, dropped leaflets warning against the
perils of bacteria.
But there was no big deal at the lemonade stand. Of course,
back then kids' bodies were still brimming with antibodies
after years of playing in the dirt all day long. Today, if
a mother sees a couple of molecules of grime on little Noah
and Ava, she gently relieves them of their tablet and phone
and ushers the kids into a hermetically sealed clean room
where they are unceremoniously air-blasted. Then they wash
with anti-bacterial soap, which is why we have so many kids
Certainly the kids today have bodies, substantial ones even,
but I don't think their antibodies are what ours used to be.
(I watch re-runs of House, M.D., so I'm up to speed.)
My antibodies are herculean from years of wading through creeks
in pursuit of salamanders and crayfish, running the woods
looking for nothing in particular (got nipped on a finger
by a chipmunk once and it only made me stronger), and I even
tried digging a bomb shelter in my back yard. Dirty work,
but I stopped at two feet when I hit a stratum of yellow-brown
clay. I also stopped when I realized I had no plan what to
do even if I was able to dig deep enough. Through all these
feats, I never minded the dirt.
One of Erma Bombeck's best lines was "dust is a protective
coating for furniture." That's how I felt about dirt.
My mother disagreed, always marveling that potatoes weren't
growing behind my ears. She didn't like dirt.
Good thing Mom never saw those used ice cubes being dumped
back into the lemonade.
I work with people who need to get out of
the way of their own language so they can say what they really
mean. If you would like to talk about bringing me in to work
with your staff or to help you with your personal story, jump
on over to the contact page.
If you would like to read more articles like this one,
go to the Legacy Road store and
look for the collected articles in my books Cat Got Your
Thumb? and the newly released expanded edition of Cat
Got Your Treadmill?
Now here's something for fellow cat aficianados: my new
book, Home Cats2: Diary of a Mad Catter, is out now.
Visit the store
and see for yourself!
ahead and use hand sanitizer. But
where does the dirt go? Nowhere. It just stays there. But hey--
My life, I realize suddenly, is July. Childhood
is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life
this year is July inside of July.
~ Rick Bass