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)


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 . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mailbox Down!

As Bill and I returned from an early Sunday morning run to Food Lion, I noticed our mailbox was on the ground.  Uh……somebody HIT our mailbox.

Well folks, we've lived in this neighborhood for almost seven years now.  Some of our other neighbors have had their mailboxes taken to the ground, but never us.  I think the main reason is how our lot is located, right at the bend of the road.  But this morning someone nailed it.  

Coincidently last week my friend Pat accidentally hit a truck with his bicycle when he encountered an errant trash can while traveling down the alley his lives in Toronto.  Pat hit his bike by the truck's mirror and left a few scratches.  Pat, being the fine fellow that he is, left a note accepting responsibility and stating that he would pay for any repairs.  Pat hasn't heard back (I'm pretty sure he will) from the owner of the truck but Pat did the right thing.

I saw no such note on or near the mailbox or anywhere.  As Bill and I were surveying the damage I saw a cluster of young folk two houses down looking up at us.  They looked guilty.  Bill did mention that they were having a party today.  He saw the balloons going in the house.  

A few minutes later a young man came up with one of my neighbor's daughters.  He said he accidentally hit our mailbox while swatting a bug in his truck.  He said "I am very sorry!  I will pay for any damage.  Here, let me give you my name!"

He was an earnest young man and I felt sorry for him but I was glad he was taking responsibility.  I told him "Don't worry about it.  We'll take care of it."  He insisted on giving us his name but I again told him that wasn't necessary.  I told him "Bill would fix it.  He's the mechanical one around here.  I do the flowers.  If I was here alone, I would take you up on your offer but Bill can fix this kind of thing.  Accidents happen.  Don't worry about it."

So folks, there you go, another episode of life in the big city a small development in coastal Delaware. 

It's always something isn't it?  Never a dull moment but you know folks, I actually feel good about this whole episode because the young man stood up and took responsibility.  That makes me feel good about humanity.  Especially after my post yesterday.  

"Where's Waldo?"

And oh, Bill just told me we got "turfed" too.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Morning Random Thoughts

As usual, lots of "stuff" swirling through my noggin this summer Saturday morning.  Let's take them as they waft in and out of my mind.

I sent an e-mail yesterday to the local Democratic neighborhood coordinator informing him that I'm opting out of being my neighborhood volunteer.  Folks, I just don't have the energy to go looking for addresses and knocking on people's doors, bothering them with political "stuff."  Besides, I just don't have the time.  Working two days a week, taking care of Casa Tipton-Kelly, keeping up with my blog and friends, taking care of the backyard, and just resting.  I'm going to fall back on the "I'm an old man now and I get tired."  I tried folks but volunteering just isn't me.  

Less than a month to go until my first big trip in decades. August 15th my co-worker Monica will stop by at Casa Tipton-Kelly in the wee morning hours of 3:30 AM or 4:00 AM to take the two plus hour trip to Philly International Airport for me to catch the 7:29 AM big bird to

"Where's my carry on bag?"

Buffalo, New York.  Pat, my host from Toronto will pick me up in Buffalo.  Why Buffalo?  I save $498 in plane fare. I'm comfortable folks, I can pay my bills but I'm not rich.  Lots of very well off gay folks down here in Gayberry (from Washington D.C.) but I'm not one of them.  I worked for private (banks) industry, not the government.  My pension checks don't even come close to their inflation adjusted pension checks.  Yes, I'm ranting.  They're the only ones who can afford those overpriced Rehoboth la de day restaurants.

The Cultured Pearl, Rehoboth Beach, DE - out of my price range and besides…..Seafood….UGH!

I'm about as ready for this trip as I can be.  This week I will make a practice "stuff the luggage" drill. Pat's telling me I don't need to bring a lot of "stuff" with me.  Me thinks he is right but a lifetime habit of bringing most of my clothes closet with me on vacation is hard to break.  We.Will.See. I'm almost there Pat.

Bill's fine with me absent from the premises for two weeks.  Just between you and me I think this will be a "vacation" for him too…..from me.  I am high maintenance folks.  Even I know that.

Our local summer veggie and fruit stand is open.  This is the best time of year folks, fresh fruit and veggies!  I love it!  Corn on the cob, fresh zucchini and peaches that taste like real peaches, not those faux peaches that are for sole in Food Lion.

My local no name veggie market yesterday - all I know it's "the one on Route 16 outside Milton" - low overhead

I note with distress and frustration that many in this world continue to kill each other thinking this is the way to "solve" their problems.  Hamas in Gaza thinks lobbing a few missiles into Israel is going to get Israel to withdraw from Gaza.  Ain't happening Muslim extremists.

The Ukraine Russian backed rebels shoot down a civilian airline killing all 298 souls aboard and now their main objective is covering up their horrible mistake.  By the way, this country shouldn't be acting all holier than thou, remember when OUR Navy shot down an Iranian Airbus A300

The Navy ship that shot down the Iranian Airbus A300
Mistakes happen but when we do it, it's an "oops!" and promote the commander who ordered the kill

over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988 killing all 290 people aboard including 66 children?  Didn't hear too much about this incident did you?  Of course you didn't because it was the United States that made this horrible mistake this time and our all too often complicent news media succeeding in downplaying our trigger happy Navy.  In fact, the commander of the ship that shot down the Iranian Airbus got a promotion.  That's how we here in the U.S. handle mistakes, we promote and reward in order to coverup.  Oh now, we're no angels either.  Mistakes happen folks, own up to them.  Of course the Russians aren't going to own up to this mistake either.  That's the way of governments.  First they lie then they coverup.  Fact of life.  Always has been that way, always will.  All in the name of "national security." Just try to stay out of their way or else they'll destroy you. Again, all in the name of "national security."

What I will never understand to my dying day is why so many civilized people think the answer to any disagreement is violence?  The only answer I can think of is evil exists in this world.  

Man's favorite pastime? Killing each other?

I may have more than my share of shortcomings and deficiencies but one thing I am not is violent or evil.  I'm not religious but I do thank whoever or whatever made me the person that I am that I am not one of those people who think killing is the answer… anything.  Well, maybe a mosquito or a bothersome fly.  

You know folks, I can walk out my door now and get into my car and drive into Lewes.  What will I see?  All manner of people, walking around, shopping, eating and restaurants, enjoying the fine weather of this summer day and the company of other folks. Why can't all the world be like this?  I don't have an answer folks.  All I an think of is evil. The desire of one tribe to eliminate another tribe because they don't think like they do.  Evil.

So that's my Saturday morning rant folks.  It's been stewing for awhile ever since I heard that Malaysian airline was shot down causing the death of 298 innocent souls including 88 children and three babies.  This is the world we live in folks.  Some things never change.  Grab the happiness whenever and wherever you can because you never know when some testosterone ladened cretin with firepower will end your life because he (and it's almost always a "he") has decided you do not deserve to live any more.  Life is a roll of the dice folks. Enjoy it while you can.  I am.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mexican Jumping Beans and Baby Ruths

I love this time of year. Nice weather, long days, fresh veggies.

Last night I finished my second day of work at the hotel.  Of course we're quite busy at the hotel with the summertime crowd.  Usually the guests at the hotel are quiet and sedate (we get the older crowd) but sometimes we get the moms with the Mexican Jumping Jack kids.  That was last night. 

A mom with her two boys, who were both about seven or eight years old.  I saw them in the parking lot, both boys jumping up and down like Mexican Jumping Beans (or Mexican "Yumping" Beans) and squealing like little girls, always wanted that attention, attention, attention.  Oh boy, "I would be in for it tonight" I thought.  And I wasn't wrong.

Not to bore you with all the incidences but the one that really sticks with me (no pun intended either figuratively or metaphorically) was when "Mom" came to the front desk and said in her broken English ("Mom" was Asian, the boys mixed race), "De toilet.  De toilet. Overflow!"  Oh great.  

I was on the phone when she shot that missile at me, not totally unexpected by the way.  I cradled the phone on my shoulder and said "I'll take care of it."  She said again "Toilet, toilet. Overflow."  Again I said, with probably a world weary expression on my face, "I.Will.Take.Care.Of.It." 

She left, I'm sure not quite understanding what I said but she.did.leave.  

After I got off the phone I ambled over to the bathroom and saw the damage.  Yup.  The water in the toilet was up to the very rim and I mean VERY RIM.  Must have been a whole role of toilet paper in that water plus……are you eating?  If so, come back to this missive later.  PLUS…….one big "Baby Ruth" on top of the toilet paper.  

Thank you Mom.

How that "much" could come out of one little boy stretches my imagination but there it was, deadly.


Thank goodness I knew where the plunger was.  Folks, this is probably the ONE THING I hate about working in hotels……PLUNGE TIME.

Oh the stories I could tell.  Yes, I have experience with this emergency.  And you know, these toilet paper, water to the rim (and sometimes over and on the floor) emergencies have almost always involved children, specifically young boys.  What is THAT all about anyway?

Returning to the bathroom with my plunger I ever so delicately sink the plunger into the fouled, toilet paper infused water and…….pray.  

YES!  I did it.  I got the toilet to flush without any overflow to the floor below.  Thank you to the Power above.  My luck runneth over.  

Of course the bathroom now had that dank, baby poop smell (that was a big specimen after all, he must have felt great after he expelled that torpedo).  I HAD to get rid of that smell because all it was doing was reminding me of the near disaster I averted thanks to my quick thinking and experience with previous mishaps of this ilk. 

I do bring my own neutralizer spray with me which I aimed a few squirts in the direction of my most recent adventure.  

Life in the fast lane folks or shall I say "life at a small boutique hotel in the first town in the first state".  One just never knows when one is called to perform and avert a nasty situation. The hotel got its money's worth from me last night folks.  I think I'll ask for a raise.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday July 10, 1976

"Who dat?" July 10, 1976

Oh how well I remember this time.  The year was 1976, the 200th year of the Declaration of Independence and the first year of our ownership of our "country property" in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

We had purchased 7.8675 acres of wooded property outside of Downingtown, Pennsylvania for $25,000, at that time an astronomical sum of money.  I was tired of living in the city (Philadelphia) and wanted to move out in the country, away from the ever present police sirens of center city Philly, the crowds, the taxes, et al.

We looked at several properties but this was the ideal one, only one road away from where my parents lived on Hopewell Road.  

We would visit the property, which we called "The Props" almost every weekend.  Bill would clear out more of the heavy undergrowth.  We would take out two Pomeranian dogs with us (Sparky and Hamburger) for a jaunt in the country. 

Four years later we built our house "in the country" and lived there for the next twenty-five years until we moved to Delaware in 2007.  

Those twenty-five years "in the country" were some of the best of my life.  We were family.  But then came time for another change and here we are in Delaware, going on seven years.  Maybe in another eighteen years I can post a photo of me on this "property" and recall again some of the best years of my life as I while away my time in a condo or assisted living care facilities.  Who knows?  I'm just thankful I'm still around to recall those wonderful times.  

Me with Sparky - July 10, 1976

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pat Gets His Head Shaved

During Pat's visit here last month, he realized his longtime dream to get his head shaved.  During a previous visit he went with me to my barber Gail while I got a haircut.  He asked her "Do you shave heads?"  She said she did.  He said "Next time I'm down I would like you to shave my head."

So that's what he did, he got Gail the Barber to shave his head.  Pat was looking for that Shiny Dome effect.  Guess what?  Didn't happen.  He and both of us realized, that to get that Shiny Dome effect one actually has to be bald.  And Pat isn't bald. He just likes his hair short.  Usually he get an .05 haircut.  By the way, I wish he would let his hair grow a little longer but he likes it very short. And it is his head so I guess I don't have much say.

What both of us found out about shaving the head of a person who is not bald, is that there are bumps and pimples one has to be careful not to cut or shave off.  And then when the shaving is complete, rubbing the head of a shaved person who is not bald, is actually painful.  No more the fuzzy feeling of bristles.  Rubbing Pat's head felt more like rubbing the most extreme sandpaper.

Needless to say, this is the last time Pat get's his head shaved.  He suggested that next time I get my head shaved.  No thanks.  

Pat outside Gail's Barber Shop before the shaving - now folks do you really think he needed a shave?