September 14, 2013 8:27:20 PM
Does anyone remember Art Linkletter? He had a popular TV show which included one feature that later became a book, "Kids Say the Darndest Things." They do the darndest things as well. I thought it might be fun to think of some of them. I'll bet you know a few of them yourself.
Weddings provide a great opportunity for kids to show out. Even children can recognize them for being Very Important Days, especially when they have been invited to participate. (I, for one, always wanted to be a flower girl. When my aunt, and only opportunity, opted during the Depression to have a small home wedding, I was stuck with just sitting on a sofa.)
My son-in-law, Jay, told me about a wedding when the conscientious little flower girl dutifully scattered her rose petals down the aisle. As she approached the altar, she looked up and saw all the guests watching her. She clapped her hand over her mouth, thinking she had been caught red-handed messing up the church. She whirled and went back up the aisle, picking up all the rose petals as she went. It has got to be tough following instructions when you know in your heart they are just plain wrong!
When my sister married in the Methodist Church, our oldest daughter, who was 2 years old at the time and had been considered too unpredictable to be in the wedding, did indeed escape from her paternal grandmother and scamper behind the chancel rail to smell the flowers. An usher had to guide her back to her chaperone in the pew.
Daisy Summerville recalls that one Christmas she gave her grandson, Earl, a toy truck. Straight away he took it completely apart, but surprised his family by being able to put it back together again perfectly. Earl is now on the Columbus Police Force. Watch out for him; he just might take you to pieces.
Lola Atkins remembers a kindergarten class she was teaching one icy winter day. She guided the children to the windows to see the icicles hanging off the trees. "Just look, children," she said. "Don't you see all the icicles on the bare trees?"
One little boy looked dubious. "No, ma'am," he said. "I see the icicles, but I don't see no bears in those trees."
Before the late Fred and Suzanne Beard moved back to Columbus years ago, they lived in Jackson when their three boys, Fred Jr., David, and John, were children. One Christmas someone in their family had received goldfish for Christmas. The little girl who lived next door, and who will remain nameless for obvious reasons, came over to see what Santa had left. After she had gone home, someone discovered the goldfish lying lifeless beside their bowl. No one could explain what had happened until someone asked the little girl who readily admitted, "The fish looked so tired swimming all the time, I took them out so they could rest a while."
All in the family
Most of my personal experiences have been, of course, with my own children, who claim I exploit them dreadfully for this column. Each one had her moments, however. When Nora Frances lost her second baby tooth, she would not put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy until she had painted it blue. She had just learned that rare objects were more valuable, and she hoped she would get more money for a blue tooth. So she had a Bluetooth long before it was an electronic gadget.
When our girls were little, we often walked as a family in the evenings around the bend of Twelfth Street North toward Lee Park. We passed the Ralph "Chicken" Webb house on our route. The Webbs had a beautiful white Persian cat. Every evening daughter Terrell, a preschooler, would drop behind the group. When we turned around to find her, there she would be with that cat in her arms. She gave new meaning to "cat-napper." It took years and a cat of our own for us to break her of that habit.
Our youngest, Diana, may have been the most innovative, since she had the advantage of learning from her sisters. When she got old enough to walk to Reece's Drug Store a couple of blocks down the street, she would buy penny balloons, fill them with water, and try to peddle them around the neighborhood for a nickel each. Before I knew about this, she had sold Dean Nellie Keirn 11 water balloons. I was upset with her, but she assured me, "Oh, Mama, Miss Keirn said she needed the balloons."
"Well, she said she had 11 house plants. She would put one on each plant, and when it popped, it would water the plant for her."
(Juvenile entrepreneurs abounded then, as they probably do now. I do not recall whether it was Frank or David Owen who had a good business catching grasshoppers and butterflies and selling them to high school biology students, who had to compile an insect collection.)
One evening Doug took pre-schooler Diana to Jimmy's Curb Market at the corner of Twelfth Street and Military. He sat her up on the counter and was talking to Jimmy. Diana helped herself to a treat from the candy jar.
"Diana, stop!" said Doug. "I did not say I would buy you any candy."
"It's all right, Daddy. I have a charge account."
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't get after her, Doug," said Jimmy. "She's been charging candy here ever since she got big enough to walk here. But don't be upset. She always comes back and pays her bill."
These are just some of the instances our family likes to recall when we talk about the good ole days when our world was young. I'll bet you have yours, too. I would love to hear them.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.