Sunday, October 28, 2007

Corrupting the minds of America’s youth

During my hiatus, my younger sister Debbie made a pilgrimage to Savannah, along with her husband and young daughter, for the expressed purpose of attending her twenty-year high school reunion. Mom made arrangements for Deb and my brother-in-law to stay at a Hampton Inn (we’re kind of starved for space here at Rancho Yesteryear—plus sister Kat and her roommate came down for the weekend as well) while making sure my niece stayed at the house in order to spoil her rotten...er, spend quality time with her only granddaughter.

I don’t get the opportunity to see niece Rachel too often. I did see her in June, when we made our yearly trek to West Virginia for the annual Shreve reunion (a.k.a. “The Driest Weekend of the Year”), so I was really pumped about her visiting. The first night she’s here, she tells my mom she can’t sleep—and with the day she had, with the travel and planes and all, it’s no wonder—so “Nana” gets the idea to let her hang out in my room and watch DVDs on my portable player.

I had the Bozo collection I told you about on top of a waste-high shelf, and upon seeing that she wanted to watch some of the shows. I couldn’t figure out how she knew who Bozo was until she reminded me that I had got her a Bozo doll a few Christmases back—which I did; I bought one at a Cracker Barrel at which the ‘rents and I breakfasted on some long forgotten trip. (Normally, I do not make it a habit to eat at the Barrel because I strenuously disagree with their policy of refusing to allow homosexuals serve me my food, but since I wasn’t paying I made an exception.) She watched about a show and a half of the World’s Famous Clown, and then announced she was going to bed. But then she stops, and looks at some other DVDs on the shelf.

“What’s that one with the moose?” she asks.

Lo and behold, she had found my Rocky and Bullwinkle stash. And like the proud uncle I am, we watched a few of those before she definitely decided that it was time to hit the hay.

Rachel is pretty bright for her age, but many of the jokes from the residents of Frostbite Falls went over her head—this, however, didn’t matter. One of the great things about kids is that they don’t discriminate when it comes to cartoons. We watched a couple of the Bozo shorts—and let me tell you, the animation is lousy—but she didn’t care at all…nor did she go off on a rant (the way I did when I got older) about the limited animation that is Moose and Squirrel. If it’s a moving drawing, they’ll sit and watch with rapt attention. The other thing that I marveled about my niece was that after we tucked a few Bozos under our belt, she knew the theme song by heart. (I’m lucky if I can remember the chorus.)

Rachel had a pretty good stay here in Savannah—she got to go to the beach, swim in my step-Gran’s pool, played some games on the computer (Bombast would pick that weekend to go down, by the way) and watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bozo and Fun and Fancy Free (1947) with ol’ Uncle Ivan (again, she couldn’t figure out why I was cackling during the Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy exchanges…but she did recognize Charlie when he first appeared onscreen). The only downer came when my Mom talked with her on the phone Sunday evening after they returned to Iowa: she was in total tears because she had to go home after having so much fun.

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