Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How do you call your children home for dinner?

Because I'm leaving for a few days to see my grown children who live out-of-state, I thought I would post a few old blog posts. My children and I talk and text by cell phone, we use 'Facetime' (video by cell phone or computer), we share online calendars, and follow each other on 'Facebook' and 'Twitter', but I just can't remember how I got them to come home for dinner when they were young. Probably a prearranged time and/or the old land-line telephone. But here's how it was when my friends and I were growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Excerpt from an old post about Bill Bryson's books

"My online book group just finished reading and discussing Bryson's latest book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir. Everyone in this group is part of the baby boomer generation, born in the early fifties. His recollections of growing up in the fifties in DesMoines, Iowa rang a bell for all of us. Literally, we had quite a discussion of what kind of bells and whistles our parents used to get us home by dinner after a day of unsupervised outdoor play in the neighborhood.
Here are some of our memories:
" kids [were more] independent and less scheduled. My father had an old US Army gong, probably WWI vintage, God knows where he got it, that he used to clang to get us all home for dinner. It was kind of embarrassing."
"My father (ex-marine) had a bosun's pipe, a form of whistle, that was very distinctive and also very embarassing! By age 10 or 11 my friends and I had a "roaming radius" of about a mile and a half in any direction from our houses, by foot or by bike."
"My mother had a two-tone whistle she did – and she could do it today and we would all come running. Our next door neighbor had a simple whistle which she blew in different codes depending on which kid she wanted. We all knew each others parent calls – and we all knew who needed to go home. "
" in Gladwyne our lunch and dinner call was the firehouse siren at noon and 6 pm. In Ardmore, we had to be home by the time the church bells finished ringing at 6 pm."
"We had an honest to god boater's FOG HORN to bring us home! It looked like a New Year's horn only was made of metal that my mother painted blue and made a much louder noise! One toot - time to come home. Two toots - hurry Three toots all at once - emergency, get home at once. I think my brother has the fog horn but I can't imagine any kid being far enough away to need one now."
That's the problem, no one would need any of these bells, whistles, horns or church bells these days. Kids are scheduled, tracked and on the electronic leash known as a cell

Confession: that was my father who had the Army gong and the bosun's whistle family lived nearby, but we knew the difference and it was only years later that I met the bosun's whistle person and realized we had lived near each other. We must have all been like well-trained dogs, just a-waitin' that sound to call us home. And of course, at the end of dinner, our ears were perked for the sound of the ice-cream truck bell. And school was controlled by bells that told us when to go from class to class. I think some schools have dispensed with the bell system. Why am I feeling like Andy Rooney now? Are my eyebrows growing?

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