Dick Shaw and his wife Daffy are among my favorite acquaintances at the church I attend because they are godly people whose lives are good examples to follow. But I also enjoy them immensely because they’re witty and know the importance of personal history and storytelling.
Dick and Daffy both drew up living wills, which outline the principles that they have lived by their entire lives. When they’re gone from this earthly plane, there will be no questions from their descendants about what the Shaws believed and stood for, how they thought or why they behaved the way they did. It’s spelled out in writing.
Already their children and grandchildren have a deep appreciation for that written record. This week their daughter posted some of Dick’s random recollections on her Facebook page and Dick gave me the okay to share them on this blog. It’s a perfect example of something we seldom stop to be grateful for . . . our personal heritage. Here are some of Dick’s random recollections:
Someone asked the other day, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?”
‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up, I informed him. “All the food was slow.”
“‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?”
“It was a place called ‘at home,’” I explained.
“Mother fixed dinner every night and we all sat down together at the kitchen table and ate it. If I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I ate it anyway.”
Some parents NEVER owned their own house—we did and Mother had a payment of $25 a month. I wore my first pair of Levis in high school and they were tight, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country (except when we went to Juarez when took the train to Fort Bliss, TX to see the Burwells).
Rode my bicycle to baseball practice and to ball games. I played outfield and 2nd base on the Knights of Columbus Panthers and I don’t think my Mother ever saw one of these games because she had too much work after she got home from work at McNally’s. She did see me play football but I don’t think she saw me play basketball—not her fault—I seldom got into a game. My sister did see me play when my underwear had longer legs than my basketball trunks. Not fashionable in those days. She was totally embarrassed.
Mother never had a credit card. After college I had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears & Roebucks.There is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
My Mother never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer and we never had a car until 1950 when I was 13. I had a bicycle that my cousin gave me that probably weighed 50 pounds and only had one speed, slow.
We didn’t have a television in our house until I went to Rockhurst College in 1957. It was, of course, black and white, and the two stations (Pittsburg and Joplin) went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God. It came back on the air at about 6 a.m. and there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on featuring local people—A.J. Cripe and the Town Talk Playboys picked and sang on KOAM-TV.
I was 17 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called ‘pizza pie.’ When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had. It was an anchovy pizza. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was just north of the Tower Ball Room.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home, but milk was. In the winter the cream on the top of the bottle of milk would freeze and push the cardboard top up off of the bottle.
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Our phone number was 7289-J. Before you could give the telephone operator the number of the person you wanted to call, you had to listen and make sure someone wasn’t already using the line.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and almost all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered the evening newspaper (The Pittsburg Headlight), seven days a week—Route 14. I folded the papers, put them in my canvass bag, put the bag in the basket of my bicycle and threw the paper on the front porch of my customers. On Saturday I collected from my customers, punched their payment card and paid the newspaper company. If someone didn’t pay, I still had to pay the newspaper company for all the papers I threw. I think I made about 2 cents a paper and had about 100 customers. Once in a while I would get a nickel or dime as a tip. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day and I had to keep going back to collect.
On this Thanksgiving, take time to reflect on and be grateful for the solid foundations that formed your life. And while you’re reflecting, jot down those memories or repeat them to one of your kids or grandkids. We are, after all, entering into prime storytelling season.