Sunday, March 18, 2012

Now What Do You Say?

Me, 1949 or 1950
How many times as a child did your mother or father remind you to say any one of expected responses?  Pretty often for me and the culture in which I was raised.  Growing up in Texas had a whole host of things to which certain responses were required.  If you received a gift, a compliment or even a hug sometimes you had best remember to say, "Thank You".  Whether you really wanted to or not.

One story my mom recently related involved my Easter outfit.  The tradition in the farming community was an Easter sunrise service and then later the full dress worship service.  Full dress in the late 40's and early 50's was new hat, gloves, purse, dress, underclothing, socks & shoes. So at the breakfast table on this particular Easter morning Momma had me at the ripe age of 3 or so give thanks.  I was still sleepy and according to Momma, gave a very short prayer.  After the amen, Mom chided me that I had not thanked God for my new stuff.  My retort, "God did not give it to me, Aunt Opal did."

Today I saw a post on Facebook where a young boy about 2 or so was dipping cookies in his milk.  The training had been done by his Papa.  I had to smile as I remembered the things my dad had taught to his four daughters and later our children.  My Daddy even allowed his instructions to influence neighborhood children.

For some reason the thing to do in the part of Texas I lived in as a child was to give little children a nickle or dime.  Of course the mom or dad would remind the child with the familiar phrase, "Now what do you say?"  Thank you was the programmed response.  Well, Daddy put a new twist on this with the youngest boys of the Littrell family.

Daddy
Daddy had a repair shop in the old gin building in Chambersville,  The Littrell family lived directly across the crushed white rock road.  Gary and Allen would wander over to Daddy's shop just to visit and see what was happening.  Daddy would give each of the boys a coin.  Then he taught them what to say, "Gimme me some more."  Not even a please following the request and certainly not the expected "Thank you."

It did not take very many days before Leta Mae, Gary and Allen's mom, shows up at Daddy's shop.  She was not pleased.  While at Trab's store up the road a ways, the boys had responded improperly to one of the men when given a couple of coins.  The store was full of the local farmers stopping in for a coke (any carbonated beverage) when the boys said, "Gimme some more".  She was mortified!!!!  Who taught you that!  The boys gave up Daddy pretty quickly.

Suzie & Royce Littrell at Ranger game
Yes, that is still a story that circulates within both families.  My sister, Suzie, married the older brother of Gary and Allen.  And it always brings a smile to the faces of the people hearing the story.  Just sort of simple and not harmful.

Daddy giving etiquette lessons to my child
Daddy had a whole bunch of stuff he liked to do to children.  He picked at kids till his mind began playing tricks on him.  He loved teaching kids to drink buttermilk.  He always called our bottoms bohunkus, a word that can be found in an online urban dictionary.  He would call a girl, boy, and vise versa.  That never failed to elicit an immediate response of, "No, I'm not a boy(girl)" even from shy children.

Unsuspecting children would be told  by Daddy that they were covered with garments.  That could bring responses from children trying to find the garment to squealing for someone to get it off me!  As a grandma myself now it is really fun to pull these simple teases on our grandsons.  And I invite you to join the fun of children.  Tell some child they have garments all over them.  Or hand them a nickle or dime for no reason.  Will you be tempted to teach a different response to, "Now what do you say?"
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