Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

more on the snowflake culture

The blog Fred On Everything is almost always amusing, interesting and often very good. I ran across his posting on the snowflake culture the day after I published mine.

He and I share a lot of perspectives. Believe it or not, he might be even a bit more of a crusty curmudgeon than I.

I post a clip out of the middle, but you can go straight to the link to see the entirety of it.

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Firing the Pre-Pubertal Arquebus: A Sociological Treatise

“…
I was there, in America: Athens, Alabama, at age twelve.

Athens was small and Southern, drowsy in summer, kind of comfortable feeling, not much concerned with the outside world. It left the world alone and the world left it alone. In those days, people in a lot of places figured this was pretty workable.

Kids went barefoot. So help me. After about two weeks in spring your feet got tough and you could walk on anything, except maybe gravelly black asphalt that got hotter than the hinges. Parents let you do it. Today I guess it would be a hate crime, and you’d get an ambulance, three squad cars and Child Protective Services all honking and blowing and being important. We didn’t know we needed protecting. Maybe we didn’t.

It wasn’t like today. When your dog wanted to go out, she did, and went where she thought was a good idea, and nobody cared, and she came back when she thought that was a good idea, and everybody was content. She probably slept on your bed, too. Today it would be a health crisis with the ambulance and squad cars. We just didn’t know any better. I don’t remember anybody dying of dog poisoning.

Now, BB guns. We all had one, every kid that was eleven years old. Boy kids, anyway. Mostly they were Red Ryder, for four dollars, but I had a Daisy Eagle, that had a plastic telescopic sight, and was no end uptown. I was always aristocratic. Anyway, you could go into any little corner store and get a pack of BBs for a nickel.

In downtown Athens–there was about a block of it, around the square–there was the Limestone Drugstore. It’s still there, like them pyramids at Geezer. Kids came in like hoplites or cohorts or hordes, or anyway one of those things in history and leaned their BB guns near the door, with their baseball gloves too usually.

Nobody cared. We didn’t shoot each other with the BB guns because we just didn’t. It’s how things used to be. We didn’t need the po-leese to tell us not to do it because it wasn’t something we did. Shooting another kid was like gargling fishhooks or taking poison. You could do it, but probably wouldn’t.

Anyway the man that owned the Limestone was about eighty or a hundred years old and had frizzy red hair like a bottle brush and his name was Coochie. It’s what everyone called him anyway. He liked little boys–not like those Catholic preachers always in the newspapers–we didn’t do that either–but just liked kids. There was this big rack of comic books that nobody ever bought but you just took them to a table and read them till they fell into dust and drank cherry cokes and ate nickel pecan pies. I think Coochie used comic books as bait so he could talk to us. It was mighty fine.

We all had pocket knives, or mostly anyway. If you were rich you had a Buck knife. That was the best kind. We’d take them to school because they were in our pockets and it was hard to leave your pocket somewhere even if you thought of it. You could carve your initials on your desk when the teacher wasn’t looking.

Today if you had a knife in school you’d get the squad cars and ambulance and get handcuffed and have to listen to a psychologist lady until you wanted to kill someone. Probably her.

It was different then, back in America. We didn’t think of stabbing anybody. It would have seemed like a damn fool idea, like eating a peanut butter sandwich dipped in kerosene. It wasn’t how people were. I guess how people are is what they’re going to do, not what laws you have. You can tell a possum to sing church songs, but he won’t, because a possum just doesn’t have it in him. It’s not how he is.

When you shot a BB gun at something that needed shooting, like an insulator of a telephone pole, it was like a thing of beauty. You could see the BB sail away, all coppery and glinty against blue sky and it was like a poem or something. Maybe anyway. You could see it start to drop when the speed wore off and go sideways a little with the wind where there was any. You learned to calculate and you could hit just about anything.

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I remember diverting from my job to fetch a daughter home from the guvmint high school.

My Swiss Army Knife had landed in her backpack while we were doing garden work some days before. We both forgot it was there.

In my generation it was assumed most boys had one in their pockets. As Fred says, “Today if you had a knife in school you’d get the squad cars and ambulance and get handcuffed and have to listen to a psychologist lady until you wanted to kill someone. Probably her.”

In between knife discovery and my arrival, the apoplectic oaf-fish-alls confined her to “the office” until Dad could fetch her and the tool that could self-animate and destroy the entire student body at any moment. I saw in their faces some disappointment in my reaction to them telling me she was suspended, not welcome there for the next week.

Cool, D, you get a week off.

I was not yet mature enough, nor in any position to make the suspension from The Institution permanent.