Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wolves and Sheep



You know I figured out a long time ago that this world was made up of wolves and sheep.  When  you're born into this world, you're either a wolf or you're a sheep.  You either take or you're taken.

I guess one could equate wolves and sheep with good and evil.  But I think this equation is a bit more complicated than that.  

Both wolves and sheep seek to survive.  Wolves are made that way, aggressors.  Sheep are made the way they are too, to be meek and submissive.  

If you're born a sheep you quickly figure out the best way to survive is to stay in the middle of the mob (what a gathering of sheep is called).  Stick your neck out and some wolf is going to take you down.  

Wolves don't look at you as an individual put only part of a mass of meat, to be eaten.  They have no feeling other than to take.  And there are always a mob of sheep around, with some sheep hanging around the edges of the mob, ripe for the picking. 

I'm a sheep.  I don't take.  I used to hide in the middle of the mob, hoping the wolves circling the sheep would miss me.  So far so good.

I've had some close calls though.  A few times I thought I was with other sheep and they turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing.  You all know those folks don't you?  



You think they're one of you and they're not.  They're wolves only out to eat you.

Now I'm not sending a cryptic message to anyone here.  I'm proud to say that my friends today are all sheep like I am.  Wise sheep, but sheep all the same.  They're not out to eat someone else.  I've known those wolves and I've eliminated them out of my life.  

But, every day my phone rings.  Usually the caller ID says "Out of Area".  Oh my, who could that be?  Oh yes, it's another wolf wanting to "help" me.  Calling me out of the blue to "help" me.  Oh sure.  

As I said, these days I have great neighbors, co-workers and wonderful friends.  How lucky am I? I even have some relatives who still like me after I got married to my same sex partner.  

But I still have to be on my guard.  Each day I open my e-mail, there's another "free" offer for me. Another phone call.  Or someone, who I don't know, who is going to coat my driveway cheap or wants me to contribute to his college fund, "just buy this magazine subscription."  

Even the ads on TV who promise you amazing results if you only buy their product.  Politicians who promise you everything if you only vote for them.  Beware, make sure you're not buying from a wolf or voting for a wolf.  They're all over, sometimes in sheep's clothing.


So folks, just remember that although a wolf sometimes is beautiful and exciting, they will devour you if you let them.


Further Adventures of a Wimpy Kid (Part 3)

Me, 1951 - about to leave for a two week summer vacation "in the country" with my Aunt Mildred and her family and my little buddy "Ducky" Vance - Photo taken on Washington Avenue, Downingtown, Pennsylvania


And we return to those days of yesteryear (sounds like the old "Long Ranger" screed doesn't it?) and visit the continuing adventures of The Wimpy Kid (that would be me).  

Now let's see, where did we leave off?  Ah yes . . . . . . the year was 1948 and I was entering first grade, or trying to once I got past the bully who kept pushing me to the ground outside the East Ward elementary school.

You know, it is very interesting that I remember clearly all my elementary school teachers except fourth grade.  

1st grade:    Mrs. Warren

2nd grade:    Miss Sara Way
3rd grade:    Miss Elizabeth Ezrah
4th grade:    Miss Powell (I think)
5th grade:    Mrs. Schollenberger
6th grade:    Mrs. Rhoda Yost

Ah, first grade.  Mrs. Warren.  


SHE.SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH


Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Mrs. Warren.  No iPhone or digital cameras back in this black and white days.  But oh do I ever remember MRS. WARREN.  



Hope Emerson - the actress who reminded me of my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Warren - could be sisters!!!!


She was a big woman.  Big bones. Sharp, hawk-like features. Dark hair with a "just a touch" of gray.  Glasses.  Shiny, steely, wire rimmed glasses.  
Baritone voice. And . . . . . . the one feature of Mrs. Warren I will never forget . . . . she wore those "sensible", solid, women's prison warden shoes.  Oh how I remember those shoes.  

I remember seeing Hope Emerson in the 1950 movie "Caged."  She played a sadistic women's prison warden.  She SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH. Mrs. Warren SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH.


Mrs. Warren ran her classroom like Hope Emerson's character ran her women's prison.  One step out of line and WHACK!  You would be sorry if you crossed Mrs. Warren.  





I crossed Mrs. Warren.

Here's what happened. 


When I began school, I was a stutterer.  


I was shy, timid, no self confidence and basically I was afraid of the world.  


Mrs. Warren knew I was a stutterer and it annoyed her.  I dreaded when she would call on me in class because I knew I would always answer with "Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, ………..I, I, I don't, don't, don't know, know." (my best typing version of stuttering).  


I sat in the back of the class.  In those Pre Kid Sensitive Days, tall kids (which I was one) and kids with the name at the end of the alphabet (which I was also one, my last name beginning with a "T") were placed in the back of the classroom.  Sitting in the back of the class (for me) was another sign that I wasn't "as good" as my some of my classmates who were shorter than me (most of them) and who were lucky enough to be born with names like Ash and Brookover (both short guys too).  


Mrs. Warren is reading a book in front of the classroom.  She stops and looks up.  I know what she's going to do.  


SHE.IS.GOING.TO.CALL.ON.ME


She does.  I answer "Ah….ah…..ah……."


I see the steeling glint in her eyes behind her steel frames Himmler glasses focus in on me.


She closes her book and slams it down on her desk.


She sets her beady eyes on my and "CLUMP! CLUMP! CLUMP!" her women's prison warden shoes back to me and 


SMACKS ME ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD!!!


and says "STOP IT!"  


You know the worst part about this whole episode?  It wasn't the smack on the side of my head (which did hurt but no damage other than to my pride).  


The worst part was those three to five seconds it took her to clump back to the rear of the classroom where I was sitting and knowing that I was going to be humiliated with a whack on the side of my head.  


And the rest of the class knew what was going to happened.  I still remember the rustle of my little girl classmates and their crinoline puffy dresses as they turned to see Mrs. Warren mete out "punishment" to the doofus who stuttered in the back of the classroom.  


My face was burning but not from the slap to the side of my head but from embarrassment.  I was SOOO embarrassed. But you know what?  I think she cured me of my stuttering. I never stuttered again in class.  


Of course these days Mrs. Warren's way of curing my stuttering would be considered child cruelty but man oh man, it worked back then.  And you know why?  I just did not want to be embarrassed in front of my classmates again.  


I still have the propensity to stutter but what I do now is if I feel a stutter coming on, I just don't say anything until I feel the words forming.  Those who know me have probably noticed that sometimes I don't respond immediately while we're having a conversation, that's because I feel the stutter.  But that rarely happens these days because I think I stuttered because I was intimidated.  I don't think anyone intimidates me these days.  I'm not a Wimpy Kid anymore. 

But do not fear, I have more "Wimpy Kid" memories which I will share in future blog posts.  


Below is a trailer for the film "Caged" which Hope Emerson played the "Mrs. Warren" role.  "Orange is the New Black" this is not.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Toby Maguire - Douchebag

Toby Maguire - Asshole


A few days ago I was reading an article in Vanity Fair about a former cocktail waitress who became a popular poker hostess to the stars.  Her name is Molly Bloom.  I like reading articles like this because they sometimes give you an inside view of what some of our popular celebrities are really like, once they're not in front of the camera.

We all form an opinion of celebrities when we see them in the movies, TV or other formats.  I like to play a game with myself to see if my initial impression of a celebrity's personality is the real celebrity.  The celebrity I'm talking about now is the Toby Maguire, Mr. Spiderman.  

I don't know why but from the first time I saw Mr. Maguire in a movie, "Ice Storm", I formed a negative opinion of him.  

I.DID.NOT.LIKE.HIM.

I don't know that my impression had anything to do with his role in "Ice Storm".  If I remember correctly the character he played was a sympathetic character.  Mostly I remember those BIG eyes of his which seemed so empty.  Know the old adage "The eyes are the window to the soul?"  I looked in Mr. Maguire's eyes and saw . . . . . . . nothing.  Empty.  Void.  Dead.  Yes, that's it . . . DEAD EYES.

Well, some people liked him.  In fact a LOT of people liked him because he went on to star in the very lucrative "Spiderman" movies.  I saw one, his ass looked good in those tights when he stooped but then, that was probably a stunt double, knowing Mr. Maguire as I do now.

Toby went on to marry a Jennifer Meyer, daughter of Ronald Meyer, currently vice chairman of NBC Universal and was previously the President and CEO of Universal Studios. Yes, he married the boss's daughter.  They have two children. Their first child, a daughter is named "Ruby Sweetheart Maguire" (how cute).  Their second child, a son, is named "Otis Tobias Maguire" (another very distinctive name which this kid will have to explain his whole life but what the hey, they're celebrities, they're special.) 

Mr. and Mrs. Dead Eyes Toby Maguire

So I'm reading this article by Molly Bloom, poker hostess to the stars.  She recounts how Toby is a great player, usually wins (millions of dollars), is a lousy tipper and a poor loser.  No surprise here, this was my impression of Vacant Eyes.

Then she recounts an episode in which Toby won over a million dollars and was actually going to tip her with a thousand dollar chip.  But first . . . . he want to know if she could "bark like a seal"


for her  tip.  Sort of reminds me of a FORMER (and now departed) friend, who used to join us on our Sunday night gay dinners at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach.  At the end of one of our festive get togethers, the waiter left the bill for our repast on our table.  One of the guys (probably me) looked at the bill and started to split it up, who owed what.  My former friend, (let's call him "Al", which actually was his name but I'm to using a last name so privacy is preserved) figured out what he owed and put his share of the bill in the common pot.  However, he did not add a tip.  He said "I'll take care of this myself."  When the waiter came by to pick up the check with the money, Al said to the waiter "Here's your tip" and proceeded to stuff a five dollar bill down the front of his pants to his crotch and then give the waiter his lizardly smile.

We all cringed.  Bad taste.  Not funny.  But Al (who was very short) thought he was being soooooo cool.  The waiter looked at him to see if he was serious.  Al repeated "If you want your tip you're going to have to DIG for it."  The waiter said "Keep it."  

Al:  Douchebag

So here is Mr. Big Time, Married to the boss's daughter, millionaire many times over and wants the poker hostess to "bark like a seal" for her tip.

Toby Maguire:  Douchebag

Below is he urban definition of a douchebag:


Stronger than a "douche", which is basically an idiot who doesn't know any better. Mr. Maguire knows better, he's just arrogant.  He has money, fame and celebrity and wants everyone to kiss his ass.  

So again, my first impression was right on the mark.  

You know the sad thing, there are so many celebrities who are douchebags.  There are a few who aren't but I think to get to the point where you're making millions because through some talent, being at the right place at the right time and mostly just plain dumb luck; I think if you're a nice guy (or woman) you won't survive long.  Basically you have to be a douchebag or at least an asshole to stay "on top."  

Toby Maguire - short - usually the short guys are the biggest douchebags


In my job as a hotel front desk clerk in this very small town on the east coast of Delaware, which just happens to be the "First Town in the First State - a distinction no other town has in this country - I've encountered and met a few celebrities and minor celebrities.  I have to say, every one of them in person was exactly my first impression of them.  

You are who you are and you cannot hide your true character.  At least not with me.  

So there is my "unload" rant for the day.  It sickened me when I read how Maguire treated that poker hostess.  I hope by posting this blog entry on my oh so modest blog that never seems to increase in readership the last seven years, that I can help to  contribute to the knowledge of the public, who is responsible for Toby Maguire's good fortune, to no longer support Toby Maguire in any movie role.  He already his his millions.  He'll have a good life but hopefully he won't be able ever again to humiliate someone else who is just trying to make living.  

See here for the full article.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

None of Us Lives Forever

This is a rare picture of me during my medical odyssey during 1959 - my friend Lar just sent it to me
During my illness I had put on 40 lbs (up from my usual 160 lbs) to top 200 lbs. This is the "fat" me. After my illness I returned to 160 and have been in the 160 lb to 170 lb range for the past 55 years - by the way, note that even during the darkest days of my medical prison I still could smile - we only get one life folks - this is it - make the most of it


When we're young, we don't think about dying.  We think "That's just something that happens to old people".  Of course we're aware that we could die in an accident, war or even murder but the odds of that happening to us are so far beyond our comprehension as to be non-existent in our lives.
I know that's the way I thought when I graduated from high school in June of 1959 and tried to join the Army.  Then something terrible happened.

I failed my Army physical.  I was told that I was born with a hernia and the Army would not accept me unless I had an operation to remove the hernia.  


I had the operation.  Two weeks after the operation I became so sick with sledge hammer like headaches I couldn't stand.  My Mother took me to our family doctor (Samuel Specter, MD, for the record books) who dismissed my symptoms as "it's all in his head!"


Being a 17 year old timid kid from a small town in the Fifties (no Internet information), what did I know?  I believed Dr. Specter and thought I really was imagining things . . . but I till had the pounding headaches.


Then one night I awoke to what I thought was the mother of all wet dreams, my left side was covered in a sweet-sour smelling, reddish purplish sticky mess.  "What was this?" I thought?  My wet dreams before (I didn't know about masturbation, remember . . . I was a timid small town boy in the Fifties) weren't this BIG and they weren't THAT color or SMELL.  Then I noticed that my incision was OPENED!  


My parent's bedroom adjoined my bedroom.  I called out "Mom!" She came in and saw my open incision (about eight inches opened) and went to the bathroom to wet a wash cloth to wipe me off. She called the ambulance.  Apparently my condition wasn't my imagination. Thank you Dr. Specter for the misdiagnosis.  


An ambulance arrived.  The emergency medical personnel lifted me from my bed, sans my shorts but with my T-shirt.  Strangely, my open incision, as big and gaping as it was, didn't hurt . . . in fact I felt no pain at all but I was sick to my stomach with fear:  



I.DID.NOT.KNOW.WHAT.WAS.HAPPENING


Back then in the Fifties, ambulances were different than they are today.  Today's ambulances like like Brink's trucks.  Back then the back was almost all glass.  


The emergency guys loaded me onto a gurney (still without my shorts but I did have my T-shirt - oh how well I remember leaving my house without my shorts), and (thankfully) put a sheet over my lower parts. 


They put me into the ambulance and backed down the driveway and onto the Chester Country Hospital.  They took the route through the center of Downingtown, my hometown.  I remember oh so well looking at people on the dawn's early light on the main street in Downingtown as it was awakening from my horizontal position on the gurney with only a thin sheet covering my lower body.  I was thinking "I wonder what they're thinking happened to me?"


When the ambulance arrived at the Chester County Hospital, it went around the back and drove into the entrance below the hospital.  There was a sign above the entrance that said:



CONTAGIAN UNIT - NO ENTRY


BUBONIC PLAGUE

CHOLERA
LEPROSY
MENINGITIS

And a list of about ten other life threatening contagious diseases that they were depositing me into the midst of.  What was happening to me?


I found out the next day (my Mother had to tell me, God forbid the doctors or the nurses would inform me of ANYTHING - this was the Fifties remember?) that I had a staphylococcus or "staph" infection.  Of course I didn't know a "staph" infection from any other kind of infection.  Below is the Mayo Clinic definition of a "staph" infection:



Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, types of germs commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections.
But staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart. A growing number of otherwise healthy people are developing life-threatening staph infections.
Treatment usually involves antibiotics and drainage of the infected area. However, some staph infections no longer respond to common antibiotics.

Note the second paragraph "staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart."

I was lucky.  Because I took so many aspirin (which I do to this day), apparently that caused my blood to become so thing that my incision burst open.  It wasn't until several years later that I was told that if the staph infection had entered by bloodstream I wouldn't be here today.  I would be dead.  Even so, I spent the next six months in and out of the hospital, enduring three more operations to "clean out" the wound only to have the staph infection return and the doctors to reopen the wound.  

My first hospital stay, in which they didn't expect me to survive and in fact the first night the 13 year old boy on the other side of my partition (to individual rooms for us infectious patients) died from his meningitis infection) was spent behind chicken wire glass in the sub basement of the hospital.  My Mother and other visitors could only "visit" me by kneeling on the ground outside and talking through the ground level window that was protected from breakage by said chicken wire. 

Maybe because I was so young and, otherwise relatively healthy before the medical establishment got their hands on me and gave me a life threatening infection, I was about to leave the contagion unit after two weeks.  

I was sent home.  But then the headaches returned.  My incision swelled up.  The staph infection was back.  Back to the hospital.  This time they put me in a semi-private room.  Apparently someone in the medical bureaucracy didn't panic this time and realized that perhaps I would infect other patients.

Thus I spent most of the summer of 1959 in the Chester County Hospital.  I was so sick and tired of being in the hospital at one time I planned to escape with the help of two "Candy Strippers" (young students who volunteer to help the nurses) who took a liking to me.  I was going to catch the Short Line bus from West Chester (where the hospital is located) to Downingtown (where I lived).  The Candy Strippers got a coat for me (it was winter by now) but I didn't have pants or shoes, only a bathroom (which I still have by the way) and slippers.  I remember thinking "What will the bus driver say when I get on the bus with my bathroom hanging out below my coat and me wearing only slippers?" 

I thanked the Candy Strippers (who were really quite taken with me I have to admit) and abandoned my desperate plan to escape the hospital.  Folks, I thought I would never get out of that hospital alive.  But you know what, I did.  I did get out and lived to tell about it.  I dodged my health bullet and am now here fifty-five years later to bore tell you all about my close encounter with medical malpractice with death.  

Thus it is with some familiarity that I now read the blog posts of three individuals that I know well.  I will not mention names here to protect their private but all three are undergoing their own medical "adventures."  Their seemingly non-ending visits to doctors, hospitals and encounters with misinformation, mis diagnosis, and hopefully eventual cures.  I sometimes comment on their blogs but I really don't know what to say which is often the case with knowing someone who has a serious medical condition.  

I hate to say "I know what you're going through" because no one, of course, knows what they're really going through unless they go through it themselves.  I was very fortunate in that I had little pain during my medical adventure but I did feel trapped. I did feel like "Will I ever get off of this medical treadmill?"  I remember looking at other people and envying them going about their regular lives, oblivious to the trap that I was in.  I'm ashamed to admit it now but there were times I resented them and their "regular" lives.  I can imagine any one of these three men thinking the same thing today and I have to say, I can't blame them.  There too was a time when I believed I would never have a normal life again.  That I was cheated out of life that so many others took for granted and, in my opinion, didn't really appreciate. But then I got better. I was lucky. I got a second chance.

I don't know what the future holds in store for any of these three men that I know, like and respect but I do hope that each of their situations stabilizes and they can again enjoy life.  

All three of these men blog.  I follow their blogs, sometimes commenting, sometimes not.  Sometimes I just don't know what to say.  Recently one of these men posted this quote by the  well known and respected theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking:


Believe what you want to folks.  I respect all peoples and their beliefs but this is my belief.  This live we're living? This one right now?  This is it.  There is no God.  No one is directing our existence.  No one is going to reward or punish us for how we life our life today in the mythical, so called "after-life".  There is NO after life folks.  THIS.IS.IT. 

As Stephen Hawking said:
"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful."  

Stephen Hawking
With all the bad in the world, there is good.  More good than bad I hope.  And we police ourselves.  There is no Grand Design.  There is no Master Manipulator.  We are it folks.  Make the best of it and be appreciative for the time we have and hopefully when we leave, we leave the world a better place for our presence.  

And to my friends who are caught in this medical maze, my best wishes for you.  Not prayers because I don't believe prayers solve anything except convince yourself they're effective but my hope that your life's journey continues many more years.  Life is just a series of obstacles one has to overcome.  Make the best out of any situation and do not despair.  And I have to say, all three of my friends are an inspiration for the way they are handling their individual situation.  

Note:
I usually put a lot of photos on my blog posts but decided not to on this one.  Photos will return in future posts, that's my style.  

P.S.
An update I just received on one of my friend's blogs that I follow.  I'm sure he wouldn't mind me putting this link in.  
See here for Scott's blog.  

We both were diagnosed with prostate cancer at about the same time.  Scott had responded to my post on Inspire about how painful the procedure was for taking biopsies. I was lucky and mine was contained.  Scott's situation was different. 

If you care to, visit Scott's blog and express your support for him.  I suggested that he start a blog to help himself through his ordeal.  His blog may not be the most sophisticated but it is real and true and I know he would appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks! 




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (2)



Here we go for episode two of my personal "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  I want to get this down while I'm in the mood and the memories are still fresh in my head.  

The funny thing is that I've forgotten much about my early childhood but certain indelible memories have stayed with me.  God forbid, I hope I don't end my days with some form of dementia but if I do, I'm sure my very earliest memories of going to elementary school will stay with me until I take my last breath.

So folks, are you ready?  Hop aboard the Ron Memory Train and let's revisit my own personal wimpy kid memories:

About a year after we moved into second floor apartment on Washington Avenue which we shared with about 50,000 roaches (give or take a 1,000 or so), it was time for Little Ronnie to go to school.


120 Washington Avenue today - not much has changed since we lived in the second floor apartment front in the late Forties and early Fifties - this is still the White Trash section of Downingtown - probably the same cockroaches too


Since I was the oldest of the three Tipton Terrors (me and my brothers), I was the first to LEAVE HOME.  And yes, I was SCARED TO DEATH.



Mom and Pop Tipton with the Three Tipton Terrors (me in the middle. . . as usual)

The school where my Mother enrolled me was the East Ward Elementary School.  The school looked like a penitentiary.  It WAS a penitentiary.  


The East Ward Penitentiary Elementary School Downingtown, PA 

We lived on the 100 block of Washington Avenue, the East Ward school was on the 400 block, a three block walk for my five year old little legs.


Washington Avenue today - beautiful now and probably even more beautiful back in 1948 - one thing though that I noticed - Washington Avenue has shrunk because those three block were a LOT shorter when I took this picture than they were when I was a five year old wimpy kid.  That was a LONG walk back then.


I remember well walking those tree lined streets, looking at the houses where my classmates lived and wishing I lived in a house like they did and not our $22.50 a month roach hotel apartment that we had to share with my school age uncles.  Oh how I wanted my own backyard to play in.

Walking those three blocks by myself was a scary experience.  Two danger zones was a classmate of mine (whose name I will not mention here because he claims he doesn't remember doing what I'm about to tell you and he said if he did he apologizes) who would often be waiting for me right before I entered the blacktop that was at the back of the school (sorry for the long sentence).  

There I was, within sight of the school and "Pudgy" (he was bigger than me, quite a bit bigger than me)would be waiting for me, barring my last few steps to the safety of the school.


Guess who "Pudgy" is?  Yes!  You're right, he is the big kid in the back row on the left.  This photo from our sixth grade operetta play.  Don't ask me the title of the operetta, I only know I was dressed as a scarecrow (a portend of my future?)


There he was, standing on the embankment, with a smirk on his face, knowing that he was going to scare the crap out of me.

He said "Where do you think you're going?"  He knew very well where I was going but I think he liked to hear me stammer and stutter (which I did at this time - how I was cured is another story to be told later)


"Pudgy"


I said "Uh, uh, uh, . . . I'm, I'm going to, to school."  

He said "You're not going anywhere until you get past me" and then he would shove me to the ground. Then he would laugh, loud.  Others could hear! 

Tears welled up in my eyes as I struggled to get up, only to be pushed down again.  "Please Pudgy, let me go." 

I think that's what Pudgy wanted to hear because every time I begged to be left alone, he usually stopped.  Sometimes he didn't and would push me down on the wet, grassy ground until my bib pants were stained green with grass.  Maybe he wanted to show our other classmates his conquest.

I don't remember exactly when Pudgy grew bored with pushing me down on the wet grass (this is the first time I found out that grass is always wet early in the morning, even today!) but eventually he did stop.  Maybe he found someone else to bully.  All I knew was to avoid him whenever I saw him.


"Pudgy" today - ironically we're good friends today and he has no memory of those first days of school for us in 1948
"Pudgy", Larry (my best friend during elementary school - a subject I will cover in future "Wimpy Kid" posts and me at a class reunion about ten years ago - do you see the irony?  I am BIGGER than Pudgy now - better looking too :)
"Lar", my fellow "Wimpy Kid" friend during elementary school and to this day

I realize this isn't a particularly funny story, and in fact it's a sad story.  But I only tell it because this actually happened to me.  I guess this was part of my "initiation" into the Big World Outside of our Roach Motel apartment. I have a couple of other bullying stories that I will tell in future blog posts but this is the first time I was bullied in my life if I don't count my father's bullying.


My father Ike Tipton, this is the man who I wish would have stood up for me but never did. . . . not once. Maybe it was just as well because I learned to stand up for myself.  A Boy Named Sue.


Which reminds me, the first thing I did after I was bullied by Pudgy on that first day was to tell my Mother and father.  I fully expected my father to confront Pudgy's parents.  Nothing.  They did nothing.  They just looked at me and then turned around and went about whatever they were doing.  My Mother washing dishes and my father eating his biscuits and gravy.  My father, who almost always wore a wife beater T-shirt around the house (no smoking jacket for him) and was a truck driver and welder. . . . nothing. I learned my first lesson in my young life, which, in retrospect was probably one of the best lessons I ever learned, stand up for yourself.  No one else is going to do it, do it yourself. 


My Uncle Dude (with his wife beater T-Shirt), my Mom and my grandmother (my father's mother) at her suburban ranch home with the washing machine on the porch (advertising to the world her hillbilly roots) - by the way, I'm in the picture too - my Mom is pregnant with me in this photo - 1941


To this day I remember how disappointed I was that my father wouldn't stand up for me.  I wasn't' angry, just sad and I felt so lonely. So very lonely.  I knew I was on my own.


Me, in third grade (1951), the wimp with the big mop of hair standing behind my ramrod standing straight friend Stuart. This is where I learned to keep a low profile. Notice that the tall kids always had to stand in the back.  Next to me is my friend Peggy West.  She had it worse than I did because he was actually taller than me which was a big No!No! in the Fifties.  We quickly bonded.  I lost track of her after sixth grade.  I've always wondered what happened to her.  I liked Peggy. Notice that she had pigtails which were a target for putting in inkwells and pulling.  Poor Peggy.


Interestingly, I don't remember why Pudgy stopped with his Troll Under the Bridge game with me but he did stop.  I would like to think I punched him in the nose and got him to stop but I think what happened was that he grew bored with me and went on to someone else who was easier to bully.  I think what I did was avoid him, I tried to make myself less of an easy target. 


Troll Under the Bridge story - used to scare the bejesus out of me


It's a funny thing with memories, somethings I remember very clearly and other things, not so much.  One thing that I do remember clearly was another Danger Zone on my daily three block walk to school. . . and that was the Butcher Gang.  That I will tell you about in my next "Wimpy Kid" blog posting. Which, by the way, I'm taking a few days hiatus from posting because folks, dredging up these memories I'm finding is proving to be somewhat exhausting.  Both mentally and physically exhausting.  

But I do have many good memories of those early times.  The innocent and pristine Fifties, which we thought at the time was so boring.  Hey folks, I am so glad I grew up in the Fifties.  Couldn't have been a better time for me to form my personality and skill at how to survive in this sometimes hostile but mostly friendly world.


Our Fifth Grade class at East Ward Elementary school - 1952 - that's me in the back row again with the mop of hair and my head slightly tilted - staying out of everyone's way - my tall friend Margaret "Peggy" West is also in the back to my right without pigtails now - guess she got tired of having them pulled on and dipped into inkwells by classmates who sat behind her in class (each desk had an inkwell - that's how OLD I am) - by the way, notice some of the really younger kids in our "CLASS PICTURE"?  They weren't in our class, they were outside during recess and photo bombed out class picture. 


   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Kid



My friend Pat sent me the book "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  I've heard of this book.  Reading it I discovered something that I think just about all of us know, at one time or another we've all been that wimpy kid.  I know I have been.  

I'm tempted to write my own "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  However, what really makes this book unique are the illustrations.  I would have to work on that folks.  I could make my own cartoon characters but it would take so long.  So bear with me while I do my own personal take on "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", sans the illustrations.  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Ron's Version


"Little Ronnie" - First Grade class photo - 1948

I was born in November 1941, one month before Pearl Harbor.


Me at two years old - literally a Living Doll (at least my Mother thought so) 

My father was a transplanted hillbilly from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. He was ten years old when he arrived in Pennsylvania by train.  First time he ever wore shoes.


"Pop" - Ike - my dad 1941 - 21 years old

My Mother was a 16 year old motherless high school senior anxious to get out of her Cinderella like home life.  "Pop" was her "Prince Charming."


My father Ike Tipton - the man my mother fell in love with at first sight when she first set eyes on him when he dropped  my Mom's date "Hank" off - my Mom immediately dropped Hank and told her girlfriend Edie to take Hank because she said "I'm taking HIM!" And she did.  Married sixty years, my father was the only man my Mother was ever "with."


I was the result of this unlikely union of a truck driving, semi-literate, handsome hillbilly father and a beautiful but poor daughter of a Quaker family.


My beautiful Mother - high school senior 1939

And it shows.  To this day I am a weird anagram of those two disparate cultures.  

For almost a year I was an ONLY CHILD.

Then my parents decided to HAVE ANOTHER.  That would be Isaac, Jr.


Me and brother Isaac, Jr - I have lost my privileged status as an ONLY CHILD

Even back then, in those black and white days I knew my special status as an ONLY CHILD had changed my life . . . forever.

Then, to add insult to injury my Mom and Pop decided to have yet ONE MORE.  His name was John.


 Baby John, hood ornament 
Now there were THREE.  I was the OLDEST but I had two coming up the rear.  


My Baby Brothers - Isaac and John - 1947 - Washington Avenue, Downingtown, PA
And from that day on my life was inalterably changed.  For the rest of my life sibling rivalry would rule, even to this day.

Growing up on Washington Avenue I had my friends and John and Isaac had each other.  Yes folks, I didn't hang out with my brothers. They were just THERE . . . in the way.


The Three Little Terrors - John, Isaac and me (hand over my eyes shielding the sun and my FIRST leather jacket) and High Water Pants 

One good thing about being the oldest, I never had to endure hand me downs.  But I was always outgrowing my clothes . . . long legs and long arms

Being the oldest I was the first to go to school.  Our school was three blocks down Washington Avenue, where we lived in a second floor, roach infested apartment that rented for $22.50 a month that we had to share with one of my father's younger brothers who was still going to high school.

My father had ten brothers.  The two youngest brothers(Sam and Bruce) were born in Pennsylvania and were orphaned before they finished high school. 

My grandmother Hester Tipton with ten of her eleven sons (the eleventh one took the picture) at Union Hill Cemetery Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where she buried her husband (my grandfather) Fieldon Jacob Tipton - 1939 - Uncle Sam (head peeking out next to my Uncle Bruce petting dog) were still in school - both Sam and Bruce was only Tipton boys born in Pennsylvania thus not authentic Hillbillies




My Uncle Sam (far left in photo) and Uncle Bruce (fourth from left with sailor cap) and Uncle Tip (kneeling with dog) on the porch at their rented home before their parents died. Note the wringer washer on the porch - an authentic Hillbilly Touch

Growing up I was constantly mortified with my paternal hillbilly roots and always tried to hide them.  My father was a Hank Williams wannabe - sooo embarrassing.


Pop with his brother Luther "Dude" Tipton playing Hank Williams on his guitar - so embarrassing (at that time)

When I began school two things were paramount in my mind.  I knew I was different and not just because I was "half a hillbilly" (as my father often liked to refer to me). 




I wasn't quite sure what I was but I definitely knew I was different.  I liked wasn't into marbles and pen knives. I was more into paper dolls.  Uh oh.



To be continued . . . . . . . . .