Most homes in the 1950s and 1960s only had one television. Ours sat in the corner of the living room where the afternoon sun wouldn’t cause a glare on the screen, and it was close to the side window where the long pole was attached to the side of the house.
Our TV antenna sat on top of the pole. Using the antenna, we could pick up two TV stations. We almost got three, but the Cincinnati station was just too snowy.
Like many stay-at-home moms, my Mom had what she lovingly called … her stories. These were soap operas that aired every afternoon. Later that day, the lives of these TV characters became fodder for party-line gossiping and chit-chat.
I remember overhearing Mom talking to Janet Miller and Dorothy Wright about some horrible thing that was happening to someone. Mom and her friends were very concerned about what was going on.
Then I realized they were just talking about one of the characters on one of their soap operas.
There were only a few shows Mom watched that weren’t about fictional people and places. She loved Ruth Lyons. The Ruth Lyons 50/50 Club was a daily must for Mom. She always made sure we had our chores done and Mom had her housework done so she could relax and have lunch with Ruth Lyons.
Later in the afternoon, there was usually time to watch the Art Linkletter House Party.
I never could figure out why Art Linkletter was famous. He didn’t sing or dance. He wasn’t very handsome. He wasn’t really a comedian, although he occasionally said some funny things.
Art Linkletter just talked. The show was always interesting, but it really got funny when Art would interview children for a segment of the show entitled, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”
That part of his show always guaranteed a few good laughs. Mom would giggle as she listened to Art interviewing those kids.
After I became a parent, my own children often amused me when they would say some of the darndest things. Josh, Danny and Jessi were always saying whacky things that made me laugh. Not only were they funny, their timing was usually perfect.
Big brothers love to scare little brothers. So, when six-year old Danny dropped a big jar of jelly in the grocery store, it was game-on.
Just as the jar broke and grape jelly started oozing all over the floor, Josh froze in his tracks. He looked left. He looked right. With a terrified look on his face, he said, “Oh, no. The Kroger cops are gonna get you.”
Danny immediately panicked. He was ready to hit the road before the Kroger cops cuffed him. It took a while to convince him that he wasn’t going to be hauled off to Jelly Jail.
Later, we all laughed about Kroger cops.
In hindsight, I think Danny might have had some degree of dyslexia. He really had trouble spelling.
One Friday, he came home from Holmes Elementary school very upset. Their weekend assignment was to learn how to spell every ocean and continent.
There was going to a big test on Monday. He was sure he would fail. I said, “No. We’re going to work on those words until you’re able to spell them all.”
I tried to make it fun, but it wasn’t. I kept drilling him on continents and oceans. He was having trouble, but then he got determined. He really buckled down. On Monday he was ready for the big test.
He came home that afternoon with his spelling paper. Written on the front of the test was a great big A+. Danny was so excited that, across the paper, he wrote in big, block letters, “SEPLING IS GRATE.”
Despite Danny’s misspelling “Spelling” and “Great,” I was very proud of him.
My six-year old grandson, Clayton, has recently taken over as the kid who says the darndest things.
Last year, he had a very bad tummy ache and was about to vomit. Apparently, he had never used the word vomit or puke, but he knew that choking was something bad. So, just before he vomited he cried out, “Mommy, I’m gonna choke.”
The word choke has now become a noun at Jessi’s house: “Mommy, I got choke all over my jammies.”
A short time later, he had a bout of stomach flu. Again, he had never used the word diarrhea before. So, when bad things started to happen, he cried out, “Mommy, I’ve got the butt-chokes.”
Jessi immediately knew what he was talking about. Now, at their house, whenever anyone feels bad, they make sure they a choke-bucket handy.
Kids are still doing and saying the darndest things. We should all write down the funny things our kids say. Keep track of their words of wisdom and those “darndest things your kids say.”
You will always treasure their words.
Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.