Yesterday's Magazette

13 – Pop Was No Pal

Pop Was No Pal

By Henry Baumann


Back in the 1920s, Pop wouldn’t have understood a suggestion that he be a pal to younger brother Eddie and me. He was our father, and we were his sons. Any other relationship never occured to either party.

A loving and caring parent, Pop was just aloof enough to maintain awe in us kids, and there was no doubt he had our respect, sometimes tinged with uneasy fear when we knew we had breached his rules.

Like all kids, we had chores we did grudgingly after school and on weekends. Pop ignored our grumbling when it didn’t affect our performance.

Our most hated task was separating unburned coal from ashes. This furnace residue was shoveled into a wire mesh cyclinder revolving in a frame over the ash barrel. While we cranked, unburned coal bounced in the cyclinder while the ash broke up and dropped through the mesh into the barrel, creating a billowing fog of fly ash.

Pop tried to vary our unpleasant jobs with some we liked. Any painting was our favorite, and when Eddie and I proved we could do it well, Pop let us paint the window trim and sash whenever the bungalow was painted. Pop disliked the tedious, time consuming sash painting and was happy even when we smeared paint on the glass.

Pop also had us share in some activities he enjoyeJ, and when every week he brought home the latest edition of Detective Story Magazine, we all read and discussed the stories with him. He was always amused if we managed to guess the outcome before he did.

Pop could also be stern when necessary and punished us physically when needed. Once after I had bloodied Eddie’s nose during a violent disagreement, Pop used his leather razor strap on my rear, explaining through my howling tears, that now I knew the pain I had inflicted on my brother.

When we moved in the country to Springfield and our Freshman Radio failed to pick up radio programs clearly, Pop decided it needed a longer aerial and bought two hundred feet of seven-strand copper wire.

Pop and I carefully uncoiled the wire behind us while pushing slowly through the foxtrail reeds behind our house to the uninhabited part of the next street. Pop had chosen a tall poplar to anchor the aerial.

He twisted the wire onto one end of a glass insulator, tied a loop of soft washline onto the other end, then handed me the assembly.

Pop was slender and wiry and could easily have climbed the tree, but somehow he sensed that I was eager to do it.

Up in the tree I looped the washline around the hole so it wouldn’t chafe the bark. When I leapt down, we followed the wire back through the dense reeds to the house where we fastened the other end to the eave.

Pop slowly drew the aerial taut until it snapped up out of the reeds, flashing and shimmering in the sunlight. Pop twisted on another wire for a lead-in, and threaded this into the house through a porcelain tube piercing the wall. When I connected the lead-in wire to the radio set, all the New York stations came in loud and clear and Pop grinned triumphantly at me.

Eddie and I loved Pop as a father, and had he been a pal, it wouldn’t have changed our feelings one bit. We never had an identity crisis, just a good, solid feeling of who we were, and liking it.

**********

Some Interesting Fun Facts

Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented. It was ruled “Gentlemen Only–Ladies Forbidden” Thus, the word GOLF entered into the English language.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter was “Tom Sawyer.”

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn’t added until 5 years later.

In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase “Goodnight, sleep tight.”

Vol. 37 No. 1 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring- 2010

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