A 50’s Kid

I grew up with two older brothers who picked on me unmercifully, all the time. Because of this I learned very early that we’re not all created equal. It was pointed out to me fairly regularly that I was different. There were obscure references as to how I was different, but the references changed so I tended to either ignore them, or I simply believed them, taking them at face value. For instance, the reason my name is Jerrie, I was told, is because I was supposed to be a girl. That actually makes sense. I can see Mom, dealing with two boys 5 and 7, praying that I would be a girl. I was OK with that. And it justified my desire to wear dresses to school once in a while.
As I grew older it became apparent to me that I’m really not all that different. It was just the normal sibling rivalry which I always won because I was the baby. I always got my way so everything was right with the world. Topping that off in later years, I learned that my older brothers were named after a pair of mules our Dad used to have. I’m sure that’s not true, but it’s a good story and explains why they were named Gee and Haw.
Having said all that, I think I turned out pretty normal, as did my brothers. All of that was made possible, I believe, because of the strength we had as a family.
During those formative years, our parents were friends with a family who visited on a regular basis. I do not know the basis of the friendship, and I’m pretty sure we weren’t related in any way, but it seems like they visited on a regular basis, even more than relatives, and we saw our relatives pretty often. Normally they showed up when it was time for lunch. Perhaps that was it. Mom was a great cook.
This family had a young boy who I think was my age and we had a great deal of fun playing whenever they visited. Many years later it was revealed to me that my friend was mentally handicapped. I didn’t notice. I just remember that we had a lot of fun and I have absolutely no recollection of him being different from me. I think about that once in a while, and wonder why that was.
A recent discussion I had with a good friend revealed the answer to me – it just wasn’t important. It just didn’t matter. We had fun and that was what mattered. I do not recall anyone in our family ever commenting on this friend’s diminished abilities. Therefore, there was no predisposition for me to think of him that way.
I’m not relating all this in an effort to point out how special I think I am because I really don’t feel that way. I’m just your average 50’s kid. There are lots of us out here running around in public, unsupervised, and I don’t think I’m all that much different from any of them.
Another part of my growing up involved my best friend, Jimmy. We went through 12 years of school together as best friends. I went on numerous camping trips with him and his family, and he went on numerous outings with me and my family. We ran around together all the time and he’s the one who taught me to dance to Rock and Roll music in the eighth grade, 1957. I have nothing except great memories of growing up with Jimmy.
After graduating from High school, we went our separate ways. I joined the Navy and he went to college, I believe, got married and had a couple of daughters. After that he declared that he was actually a gay person. What a surprise to me. All that time we spent together, for all those years, and I didn’t have a clue. Apparently he didn’t either since he got married and had a family.
I guess the point of all this is that we are who we are. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out. The fact that life takes us, and our friends, in surprising directions isn’t, in the end, really an issue. It’s how we deal with it “in the moment”.  How we do that is pretty much the result of good parenting.
That, and I wasn’t exposed to a lot of graphic detail about issues like that throughout my childhood. Maybe I was just sheltered and very naive. Maybe I was exposed to those prejudices but they weren’t significant enough to impact my behavior. Maybe it’s because our entertainment consisted of the family gathered around the radio listening to Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, The Whistler, and during Christmas, The Cinnamon Bear. Or, we stood around the piano singing while Mom played.
Who knows?
Maybe I’m really living in a matrix and all my memories are manufactured.
Whatever the reason, I’m content with them as they are. I just wish my Kids, and their Kids, could have had that same experience. But, you know? They are content in their own version of happiness, making their own memories, and they’re going to be just fine.

2 thoughts on “A 50’s Kid

  1. I can identify. Joan and (with her teachings)Don told me that I was adopted for many many years. They both had baby books in our parents’ closet. I had none (being a child from 1944 when those items were about as rare as real butter rather than margarine with yellow capsules which when cracked open and mixed with the white stuff made things look more like butter. Never knew why we didn’t have real butter since there was a cow on the farm that provide us with milk.

    However, almost 70 years old, I now realize that I am special and whatever was told me as a picked upon kid was not true. In fact, several years ago my “little” brother (the former mayor) apologized to me for treating me the way he did when we were younger. Older sister —- nary an apology or a positive comment. Go figure! Guess she might have been the adopted one after all.

    Love your posts! Mrs. Shelton would have been proud of your writing ability!


    Jerrie posted: “I grew up with two older brothers who picked on me unmercifully, all the time. Because of this I learned very early that we’re not all created equal. It was pointed out to me fairly regularly that I was different. There were obscure references as to how I”

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