Thursday, January 7, 2010

Living Room

The below column appeared this past Monday in The Lebanon Democrat. i intend to publish my Monday Democrat column's on this site on Wednesday or Thursday of the week to not compete with the newspaper. i also intend to write at least one article or "blog" a week with thoughts not quite copacetic with a hometown/memory op-ed column. In addition, i plan to put at least one poem or free verse piece on the blog/website each week. As in the past, these will be archived in the appropriate sections of this website.

i remain not exactly sure where i am going with this. It is certainly not the traditional major publishing house process to get published; nor is it the current variations of co-op or self-publishing. In fact, i'm not even sure why i am compelled to write.

But compelled i am. It is not for fame or notoriety. i'm long past that -- nor do i have any desire to be seen on national television at a sports event or "The Today Show" making a fool of myself for a very truncated Warhol-fifteen-minutes-of-fame moment. Perhaps i wish to give back something, thoughts or words which will induce laughter, pleasure, or a new idea.

i shall not ponder this long. My brother is a much better and deeper philosopher than i.

i will soon send out an email with the gist of the above thoughts to get those on my email mailing to visit the site and hopefully become habitual returnees.
i am working to actually have the mechanism for comments, replies, etc. like my much more web savvy daughter Blythe can do on her site. But that is a while off.

This seems crazy in that i am taking on the responsibility of making more income so Maureen can have life-style change options. This means while trying to increase my writing productivity and more frequent inputs here, i am pursuing income producing work in about four, completely unrelated directions.

It's fun, but i am old, and i am not too sure how long i can keep it up. But i have vowed writing will remain a top priority and this site is where it will be exhibited.

i hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think by emailing me at
Now, on to living in the living room:

SAN DIEGO – When we returned to the Southwest corner last week, we departed my parent’s home through the back door.

Even a few blocks north on Castle Heights Avenue, departures had been made through the back and side door since the late 1950s.

My parent’s current living room rarely sees a lot of action. Our Christmas tree, freshly cut from a small copse on Eddie and Brenda Callis’ acreage, prominently occupied a corner there. Occasionally, I snuck in after lunch and obliged myself a nap. Our daughter walked through from her bedroom in the upstairs loft. We welcomed callers at the front door and escorted them through to the family room.

Most living rooms I know today, including ours in the Southwest corner, rarely do more than display nice furniture, gather dust, and serve as a pathway. Many homes now are built with “great rooms,” but even these often don’t see much living.

Living in the Living Room

Our original family living room on Castle Heights Avenue saw a lot of living. My parents moved into this home, one of the first two on the block, in 1942. There was a bedroom, bathroom, short hall, unfinished upstairs, kitchen, breakfast nook, back porch, basement, dining room, and…ta da, the living room.

Later, my father turned the upstairs into two bedrooms, bath, and storage area. I suspect my presence in the single bedroom configuration had quickly become a nuisance after my father returned from the war.

Even with the first remodel, sleeping happened in the bedrooms, food was consumed in the breakfast nook or the dining room depending on the number of eaters, bathing was done in the bathroom, and living was done in the living room.

What a concept. Such accurate descriptions were long before Madison Avenue boomed with its glut of clever, catch misnomers.

Living occurred in the living room constantly during waking hours. I crawled there. I created havoc there. My father wrestled with me and tickled me on the coarse wool fiber of the patterned rug there.

Living Room Radio

The radio occupied a corner and my attention. I sat cross-legged or lay on my stomach propped on my elbows listening to “The Lone Ranger,” “Gangbusters,” “Tom Mix,” “Amos and Andy,” “Fibber McGee and Molly,” “The Great Gildersleeve,” “Fred Allen,” “Jack Benny,” and “Baby Snooks.”

The focus of living was toward the front. Before air conditioning, the arched doorway provided circulation through the screen door. Everyone entered there except my father when he returned from work, parked in the one-car detached garage, and walked through the back porch, through the kitchen into, you guessed it, the living room.

We played in the front yard. My mother and grandmother could keep an eye on us while living in the living room. We climbed the three peach trees on the south border of the lawn, laid blankets for playing under the tall Chinese maple on the lawn’s north side. We rode tricycles monotonously up and down the straight arrow sidewalk. Dressed in chaps, vest, and mini-version of a ten-gallon hat back, I pulled a small, wooden red wagon laden with a football, baseball, glove, and bat back and forth between the cinder driveway and those peach trees.

Television Takeover

Dismantling of the living room began surreptitiously in 1954. The old radio was replaced by a 14-inch black and white RCA cathode ray tube with accoutrements, our first television.

“Milton Berle,” “Red Skeleton,” “Martha Raye,” “Dragnet,” became the night time focus in the living room while “Kate Smith” led the afternoon lineup, followed by “Howdy Doody,” and concluding with Van Dyke adorned “Ruffin Ready” who introduced the gamut of cowboy stars to young whippersnappers.

But television presaged the end of living in the living room. The growing family and financial stability led to expansion. The pine paneled den was added with an enlarged breakfast room in the back. The back porch was gobbled up. The down stairs bedroom became the guest room when the master bedroom was added above the new den.

The television sat squarely in the middle of the den’s north wall. Living still occurred, but it was diluted with almost constant TV watching.

The living room was relegated to furniture, dust, passing through, a few formal gatherings, and Christmas.

Of course, we keep on living, but I sure miss living in the living room.

No comments:

Post a Comment