From_the_East_Wing,_Taking_A_Step_In_Time,_The_Barba ra’s_Of_My_Live,_Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Moe,_And_The_Double-Dog- Dare-Ya

Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing.

The other day I was talking to an old friend, in fact, a member of my army. Ya remember the Army of the Toto Volunteers I’m sure. We were friends as kids and have remained so forever. We’re talking ‘bout the “good old days”.

Now I’m not too keen on talking ‘bout the good days, ‘cause I think the best days are today and tomorrow, not yesterday and the day before. But we were talking ‘bout the things we remembered from the past. When the Toto Volunteers reigned supreme, at lest in the eyes of little hillbilly boys in downtown Toto.

So this is for those who visit the East Wing and’ve never seen a black and white television, just try to image, and see if ya can see what I saw a long time ago.

It was a time when all the pretty girls had ugly gym uniforms in gym class at high schools. And they wore tennis shoes, and nobody had even heard of Nike’s. It took three minutes for your TV to warm up before ya saw any picture. Nobody owned a purebred dog. A quarter was a lot of money, and you’d reach into poo for a nickel. Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces, one for each leg. Pantyhose was not even a word.

At a gas station ya got your windshield washed, the oil checked, and the gas pumped, without asking, and it was free, every time ya bought gas. And you didn’t even pay for air for the tires. And ya got trading stamps to boot. Bet ya don’t even know ‘bout trading stamps. We’ll talk ‘bout that some other day.

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box. It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.

In public education they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed… and they did it! Oh how I wish that still prevailed in public education. We’ve dumbed down public education to the point where we now produce high school graduates right here in North Judson who can’t read to the extent of simple understanding of the English Language. I’ve seen it in the normal course of doing business at Robert Howard Company right here in North Judson IN.

Back in the day when a 57 Chevy was everyone’s dream car…to cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady. Me and the She went steady, and loved it. I still remember being so much in love with the She that I couldn’t even go to sleep at night, just thinking ‘bout the She. Pretty Italian girl, that She. I’m so glad I married the She. I’m so glad the She choose me.

It was a time when no one ever asked where the car keys were ‘cause they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked. Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like, ‘That cloud looks like a……

We played baseball, we played with no adults around to enforce the rules of the game. If ya didn’t like the call, ya fought.

All the stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.

Now with all our progress, for those who remember like I just did, don’t you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace, and share it with the children of today, the slow lane. When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited ya at home.

There were fears for our lives, back in the day, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat. But yet we survived because their love was much greater than their threat.

And our summers were filled with bike rides, Hula Hoops, and visits to the gravel pit or the Yellow River just north of Toto. Playing marbles and Hop Scotch. We ate Kool-Aid powder with sugar. Put it right on our tongue. Ya had to be really tuff to do Kool-Aid powder straight up, or really stupid. In Toto, we had ‘em both. And they showed.

Now didn’t that feel good, or what? , Just to go back and say, ‘Yeah, I remember that’.

I’m sharing this with you today ‘cause my friend said “I Double Dog Dare ya to write ‘bout this stuff from the East Wing” I’m sure ya remember what a Double Dog Dare is, and if ya don’t just read on… And remember that the perfect age to live in is somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care. I think that’s where I’m at right now. Me and a special friend of mine, The Barbara of The North.

She’s called “The Barbara of The North” ‘cause as most all you know I’ve also got a sister named Barbara who lives in Roswell GA. So when talking ‘bout the two Barbara’s in my life, and I talk ‘bout ‘em a lot, it’s either Sister Barbara or Barbara of the North. I love ‘em both, and I’m so glad they share my life, my two Barbara’s.

I’m wondering how many of my friends of the East Wing still remember Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell , Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk, Champion and Gene Autry, Lash La Rue.

And if ya remember those, how ‘bout these. Candy cigarettes…Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside… Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles…Coffee shops with Table Side Jukeboxes…Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum…Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers…The milk man, that guy who ran over my dog and then brought me BuckyBoy. Gentle rabbit, BuckyBoy.

Newsreels before the movie…Telephone numbers with a word prefix…( Twin brook 6-5421, the number for the She). Party lines for telephones…Peashooters… Hi-Fi’s & 45 RPM records…78 RPM records…Green Stamps…Mimeograph paper and mimeograph smells…The Fort Apache Play Set… Do You Remember a Time When Decisions were made by going ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’? And they were always good decisions.

Wonder if we would all be better off if congress opted for the ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ form of decision making today. It sure wouldn’t hurt, and maybe would be a big improvement on what we got. In fact this decision making process could very well be extended to the state level also. I’m sure the State of Indiana would’ve been much better off had the democrats used this process of decision making in place of following the Mad Hatter from South Bend, dressed up in a costume as a state representative.

With the democrats finally coming back to Indianapolis with the cock and bull story of victory for the cause, while all along at the same time educating the public on the ills of the republican majority currently in charge of things in Indiana Government. And now the Mad Hatter has convinced the minority party we’ve won. Guess we democrats will fall for anything. We fell for the President’s line of change we could believe in.

But where the ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ system of decision making could work best is at the local level of government. Yup, right here in Starke County Indiana. I’m sure ya’ve heard ‘both the push to develop a county administrator in place of much of the county government. Ya know who’s most opposed to this idea? Those in county government and those employed by county government. DUH! That don’t surprise anybody. Seems we’re ripe for ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe’ government. Ya don’t believe me, just look at the local decision makers here in Starke County Indiana, Larry, Curly and Moe.

Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, ‘Do Over!’ ‘Race issue’ meant arguing about who ran the fastest. Catching The Fireflies Could happily occupy an entire evening. It wasn’t odd to have two or three ‘Best Friends’. Having a Weapon in School meant being caught with a Slingshot. Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures.

‘Oly-oly-oxen-free’ made perfect sense to everybody.

Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles. The Worst embarrassment in the world was being picked last for a team. War was a card game. Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle. Taking drugs meant orange flavored chewable aspirin. A time when water balloons were the ultimate weapon.

Thought I’d talk ‘bout this stuff a little bit just so the kids now days at least can have an idea that there was a time before computers and texting. It was a time when ya just went out and played in the sunshine. Ya played with your friends, face to face not by text to text. Ya done things together, and ya had fun doing it.

The thought of nothing to do never crossed your mind, ‘cause there was always something to do. Ya looked forward to waking up and getting outside in the sunshine every morning of the summer. Ya pulled your shoes off the day school was out for the summer, and put ‘em back on the day after Labor Day when school started back up. There was always just one more step in time.

Now ‘bout that Double –Dog-Dare-Ya! That had a special place in the annals of the Army of the Toto Volunteers. We Double-Dog-Dared-Ya a lot. In that Army of the Toto Volunteers.

Ye see this Double-Dog Dare-Ya was the ultimate challenge to lay on to anybody. When ya felt somebody couldn’t do something, or was afraid to do something, like eat a worm, or climb a tree with one hand tied behind their back, or try to ride a bicycle backwards, or YUK!!! Kiss a girl. Ya Double-Dog-Dared-‘em. It was a challenge few if any upstanding members of the Army of the Toto Volunteers walked away from.

Boys were turned into men by the use of the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Challenge. If not turned into men, at least turned into boys who felt a little better ‘bout themselves after having survived their latest Double-Dog-Dare-Ya. As the General of the Army, I used the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya to build confidence and self worth into my military force.

One time I asked my dad ‘bout Double-Dog-Dare-Ya, and what he thought ‘bout it. I asked him one Sunday evening while we sat on the front porch in the swing. Me and my dad sat on the front porch in the swing every Sunday evening when the weather permitted. We talked man to boy stuff, me and my dad right there on our front porch, sitting in that swing, right there in downtown Toto, most every Sunday evening, when the weather permitted.

When I asked him ‘bout Double-Dog-Dare-Ya, he said “BobbyRay the most important thing to remember is when ya Double-Dog-Dare someone to do something is to make sure you’ve never Double-Dog-Dared somebody to do something that’ll hurt ‘em if they can’t do it.

Then right there on the front porch, in downtown Toto, sitting in the swing, my dad said “BobbyRay I Double-Dog-Dare-Ya to make sure your army never Double-Dog-Dares anybody to do something that’ll hurt themselves.

And so it happened, right there on the porch, right there sitting in our own swing, my dad, a preacher man, had Double-Dog-Dared me to do something with the Army. To protect the lives of the solders, the solders of the Toto Volunteers.

Whata ya gona do? Ya step up to the Double-Dog-Dare-Ya Challenge, and take it on head on. And so the next time the Army of the Toto Volunteers got together, I told the troops that from now on, I, as the General of the Army, would have to approve all Double-Dog-Dare-Yas before they became official.

Now there were a couple kids that didn’t like that too much and wanted to know why the had to get my approval on their Double-Dog-Dare-Yas. I just told ‘em ‘cause my dad had Double-Dog-Dared-me to do so.

Everybody in the Army knew my dad and knew ‘bout him being a preacher and all, so when they found out ‘bout my dad having Double-Dog-Dared me to make sure none of the Volunteers got hurt, well, it was just hard to go against my dad’s Double-Dog-Dare-Ya.

I think everybody in the Army sorta knew that my dad, from time to time, offered me advise on how to run the Army. And so it was with that unspoken fact in mind, that as an Army, we choose not to challenge the higher authority of the Preacher Man in downtown Toto.

A Preacher who’d Double-Dog-Dared the General of the Army of the Toto Volunteers. A Baptist Preacher who’d shepherded the Army along the way. The same Baptist Preacher who left an imprint on the lives of most all of the Army of the Toto Volunteers, including an imprint on the life of BobbyRay. Yup, Double-Dog-Dare-Ya played a big role in the lives of that Toto Army.

Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the East Wing, Taking A Step In Time, The Barbara’s Of My Live, Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Moe, And The Double-Dog-Dare-Ya

I wish you well,