Resisting the ever-widening gap

Published 10:45 pm Friday, February 5, 2010

The generation gap was formed when Adam and Eve begat.

Over time, that gap has widened to an enormous expanse that makes the Grand Canyon look like a gully wash.

But back during my generation, the gap could be bridged. Our parents saw to that.

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They took us where we needed to go. They bought us what we needed to wear and fed us what we needed to eat. They liberally administered the rod to keep us on the straight and narrow.

Church was our spiritual and social destination – just about our only destination.

Most of our clothes were made from “scratch.” But our shoes were store bought white canvas tennis shoes, penny loafers – we added the shiny pennies — and later saddle oxfords.

Mama never asked us what we wanted to eat for dinner. She cooked it and we ate it. What was left over, she put in the oven and we had it for supper. And, I can count on one hand the number of times our family ate at a restaurant.

Once in a blue moon, usually at Easter time, we’d make the daylong trip to Montgomery to get store bought Sunday clothes. Then, we got a real treat. We got to eat at Morrison’s Cafeteria where they had all kinds of food lined up on the counter and ladies asked you what you wanted and put it on your tray.

We wanted some of everything even though we had no idea what it was. One time, the cafeteria lady asked my cousin, Jimmy, what kind of salad dressing he wanted “renchRoquefortThousandIsland?”

“Thawsunlawsun,” Jimmy said.

“What did you say?” the lady asked with a puzzled frown.

“What did YOU say?” Jimmy asked. That’s a family joke to this day.

The cafeteria was an amazing place. When you got to the end of the line, a man in black pants and a white jacket, with “Morrison’s Cafeteria” sewed on it, would take your tray to the table, unload your food and you’d have to put a nickel on the tray for him. My grandmother told us the nickel was a “tip” for the man carrying the tray. We felt like real important people, eating in the cafeteria and giving out nickels.

We went to St. Augustine on a vacation and ate at a restaurant that smelled like dead fish. Bubba got sick. I would have too except I breathed into my napkin. Once we went to New Orleans and stopped at a hotdog stand on the way. Later, we ate at a swanky French restaurant. Daddy said he could have bought the hotdog stand for what he paid for that fancy food. I don’t know what I ate but the hotdog was better.

Most of our eating and entertainment was right at home.

For a long time, we just had a radio. Mama listened to country music in the daytime and, on Saturday night, we — Mama and me — would listen to the Grand Ole Opry. Daddy said he couldn’t stand to listen to hillbillies singing through their noses so he went to bed.

I liked hillbilly music and that was about all that I heard until my grandparents, Mommie and Pop, got a television.

It was unbelievable that talking, moving pictures could be in a box. On Saturday nights, we’d watch The Hit Parade. We’d be on pins and needles as they counted down to the Number One song of the week. The singers would take turns singing the top songs. Snooky Lanson and Gisele MacKenzie were our favorite singers.

They didn’t just stand behind a microphone and sing. Like, when Snooky Lanson sang, “Autumn leaves drift by my window. Those autumn leaves of red and gold,” leaves would come floating across the screen. Of course, the leaves weren’t red and gold. Everything on television was black and white.

But the all-time favorite song on “The Hit Parade” for me and my cousin, Net, was “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.”

We liked it so much that we bought the sheet music. I played it on the trumpet and Net sang.

“It’s cherry piiiiiiiink andappul bloooooosom white.”

We were goooood.

If “American Idol” had been on television back then, life would have been very different for Net and me.

A little tag about old time television. When color televisions came out, only a few programs were televised in color.

When they were, an announcer would come on and say, “The following program is being brought to you in black and white and in color.”

Uncle Willie was watching and listening. Following the announcement he announced, “I can’t tell a damn bit of difference when it’s in color or in black and white.”

We all laughed because Uncle Willie didn’t have a color television set.

No, the generation gap wasn’t so wide back then because children stayed pretty close to home and under our mamas’ wings.

But the gap between this e-generation and my generation is wider than the Grand Canyon. I realized that when I was trying to watch the Grammy Awards Sunday night. I had great interest in the Traditional Folk Music category and was waiting in “suffer-age.”

One female singer was causing quite a commotion. She was making mouth noises and dancing at the same time. Soldiers – centuries – were marching along in puffs of smoke. The singer either forgot to put on the bottom of her outfit or they ran out of material before they finished. It didn’t cover all that needed to be covered.

The next performers were called Black-eyed Peas. I couldn’t figure that out. One of the peas had a mask on his face and they wore guerrilla-looking suits and robots that looked like the Tin Man in Alice in Wonderland dropped in from outer space and flapped their chest doors to the beat of the music. The only words I understood were “Here I come; Here I go.” I didn’t get the point.

About that time, a friend called and asked me to ride with her to see a friend who was under the weather.

We sat for a couple of hours and talked and laughed and enjoyed an old-fashioned visit.

I was so thankful that I had been rescued from the other side of the generation gap.

For the e-generation, it’s probably a fun and exciting place to be. But it’s just too far from home for a gal like me.