Today’s senior citizens may recall with fondness the summer-time frolic of their youth. Summertime “back then” was a time for outside work and lots of time for outside things to do—especially for children.
Much free time was spent just interacting with nature. There were trees to climb, fish to catch, butterflies to chase, and other kids to play ball with.
Not too many years back in our history, it was a common practice after church on Sunday to invite one of the local spinster school teachers over for Sunday supper—frequently held at a grandparents’ home.
Several ladies of the family would carefully plan and prepare the scrumptious and generous meal to be fed to the hungry after-church gathering.
Not many stores were open on Sunday back then. Many people seemed to gather together on Sundays to just enjoy each others’ company. Of course there would be a variety of family members of all ages for those Sunday get-togethers along with a few friends of the family—maybe with no place else to go.
At my grandparent’s home, the men-folk would usually gather together on the porch to relax a bit. The children would usually be within ear-shot outside in case an adult was needed. And, most of the women-folk would gather together in the kitchen to prepare the meal and to talk about the latest happenings among their circle of friends and family.
While it is true that most of the women-folk would be in the kitchen, that certainly was not true with my elementary school teacher Ms. Rumbleheart—a true spinster and a frequent guest at my grandparent’s Sunday supper table.
Ms. Rumbleheart could usually be found out on the porch holding court with the men-folk discussing some hot local or national political controversy of the day.
I recall one such Sunday afternoon towards the end of a summer political season when a discussion over the difference between what a “politician” was and what a “statesman” was resulted in near-fist fights—right there on grandpa’s porch.
The out-spoken Ms. Rumbleheart insisted that the country needed more statesmen like Democrat Adlai Stevenson to run the country because he was far more able to exercise political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship than his opponent Republican Dwight Eisenhower was.
Upon hearing Ms. Rumbleheart’s inflammatory words, two of my World War II military veteran uncles jumped to their feet to defend General Eisenhower’s “proven ability” to lead the country into what they called “the new military-industrial complex” world.
They loudly suggested that Stevenson just didn’t have enough experience and that he would simply raise taxes and promote government “hand-out” programs causing them to grow to new levels that the country simply could not afford.
With equally as loud a voice, Ms. Rumbleheart went on to further suggest that with the national debt rising, thanks largely to WWII, it was time for our country to pay off our debts and to stay out of future wars.
“We’ll bankrupt the country with another war,” she shouted.
My Uncle Joe shouted back that we could pay off our country’s debt with the gold that we had stored away safely at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Upon hearing that suggestion, another uncle questioned just how much gold we actually had at Fort Knox. No one, including Ms. Rumbleheart knew for sure how much gold was there—or if it was physically there at all.
That seemed to quiet everyone for a brief thoughtful moment until grandpa stirred up the political coals again noting that both Eisenhower and Stevenson were really just “old-fashioned politicians”—persons actually engaged in corrupt party politics primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons.
“Neither man running for the presidency is “fit for office,” grandpa asserted.
With those fighting words, he single-handedly caused all of the men-folk, and even Ms. Rumbleheart to rise to their collective feet ready for a physical fight.
“Why are we stuck with these two political parties and their hand-picked candidates anyway? I don’t want to vote for either of ‘em!” said grandpa.
Now standing himself, grandpa added “And, don’t any of you dare call me either a Democrat or a Republican.”
“I’m an American! Period! And, I want better for my country!”
Since grandpa was the family’s elder-statesman, that statement of his caused most of the men-folk and even Ms. Rumbleheart to quiet down.
Just then, the screen-door on the porch opened and grandma’s sweet voice said, “Supper’s ready.”
It was unusually quiet around the supper table that afternoon.
But, grandma’s fried chicken and apple pie was as delicious as ever.
© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on 07-31-08.