When I was growing up, it didn’t happen very often, but every time there was a tornado warning, my dad would go outside and look toward the horizon where the tornado was supposed to be coming from. He wanted to see with his own eyes whether a funnel cloud was coming toward our house. There were a couple of occasions when everyone in our family went downstairs and stayed in the basement until it was safe to come up.
I recently listened to an interview of a business consultant who said that he blames Thomas Jefferson for many of the problems in the United States, because Jefferson was the one who came up with the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The consultant said that he had no problem with the life and liberty part of the phrase, but that Jefferson’s use of the words “pursuit of happiness” was a mistake.
After I published last week’s article about the 60th anniversary of the Barbie doll, my mom called me on my cell phone. I wasn’t available when she called, so she left a message. In the message, she said that she had read my article and that in addition to her concern about her daughters’ self-images being affected by the Barbie doll, she was also concerned that with the introduction of a teenage, sexualized version of a doll, there would never be a return to the days when young girls were encouraged to play with baby dolls.
The year was 1970. I was in the eighth grade at St. Mark’s school in Peoria. I remember the day like it was yesterday. One of my classmates — I’ll call him Paul — brought a Polaroid picture to school to show to his friends. Paul and I were the same age — 13 years old. The person in the picture was the girlfriend of Paul’s older brother. She and Paul’s brother were in high school. She was a student at Academy of Our Lady and Paul’s brother was a student at Spalding Institute.
When I was growing up during the 1960s and early 1970s, my favorite movies were Westerns. I’m not sure why. One reason may have been because I watched a lot of television with my grandfather, Tom Williams, and he liked Westerns. Another reason may have been because the heroes in Westerns were always tough, rugged, no-nonsense men who reminded me of the men on the Williams side of the family.