Diary - Electronics - Essays - Other Writing - Cartoons - Paintings - Photo Album - World War II - Etc

ESSAYS

Growing Up

B. D. grew up in the 1920s and Great Depression. At least by the time later in life when B. D. wrote these essays on his childhood, he had developed a heightened and sentimental view of the "best time this world has ever seen or will ever see". He looked back over his childhood as some sort of timeless idyll. Without diminishing or taking away from what B. D. wrote, I would like to discuss his concept of boyhood and how it influenced his memories. At this time, childhood was longer and more protected than it has become, so these reflections need to be read in that spirit. The boy of that time went through a prolonged idyll of oblivion, insulated from the adult problems of the day. Whether for the better or worse, childhood has changed since then. Even physiologically, children mature faster than they did at that time. Readers today must remember that the adults of that time created a sheltered world for their children to inhabit, purposely keeping the intrusion of adult matters away. What B. D. remembers is this halcyon and idyllic, almost perfect, boyhood world. He would, of course, emerge from this world of childhood and go to war.

To balance B. D.'s hyperbolic statement, and his sentimental view of this time, realize that his grandson would not have survived beyond his teenage years without sulfa drugs and antibiotics, neither of which was available until the 1940s in World War II. Life could not have been as wonderful as B. D. remembers. Medicine then was, although better than in the past, still quite primitive. Many children died in childhood. (The faster maturity of children now has been traced to improved health.) Cigarette smoking, the cause of untold misery from cancers plus premature death, was a normal part of everyday life and the health issues were ignored. The essays here describe segregation among the races (see particularly the baseball material), and the harsh industrial-age life as a machinist of B. D.'s father. In the larger picture, the Great Depression itself was caused by the rich elite of America chasing a speculative bubble that popped and destroyed the US economy, causing untold hardship on people who likely did not even understand what had happened. A world war had just ended, largely because neither side could field enough cannon fodder to continue, and B. D.'s own generation would continue the conflict as soon as they'd grown up. Yet this did not intrude (much) into the world of B. D. as a child, and does not take away his major, overarching point that children should be allowed to have their childhood.

The Education Of Scott

From 1978-1984, and especially when my mother and I lived with him from 1980-84, B. D. did a tremendous amount of writing to try to educate me. For my age, most of the topics (especially electronics) we covered were far beyond what the schools I attended thought were appropriately. I soaked up everything B. D. could give me. Mostly, he created a page or two at night after I had gone to bed, and he would have done a cartoon or an essay or something by the next morning when I took his breakfast in to him (once he was wheelchair-bound).

Most of this writing was done on pages left over from his electronics business. He had boxes of the small, blank invoices he used. Most had his old Candler address on them. They were literally an inexhaustible supply of paper for him, since he was still using them in 1984. Most of the writing is very short and fits on these small pages.

The most salient fact about B. D.'s material is that it had no age limit. From his electronics lessons to airplane and flight lessons to the machinery of a bicycle to art to poetry, he never thought I was "too young" for even the most advanced material. He began teaching me about electronics (and flight) in 1979, when I was nine years old. He just gave it to me, and let me soak in as much as I could for that age, and kept expanding as I grew older. He exposed me to a breadth of information, from the various fields of expertise with which he had familiarity. This was in stark contrast with public school, where children were artificially held back by a "curriculum" which dictated they could not learn about certain topics until they reached a certain age, regardless of their development or curiosity. In a way, I've always wondered what a free-format, self-directed education such as that described in the biographical material I've read about C. S. Lewis would be like; but in a real way, I did have an experience just like that in what B. D. taught me.

The sad part is what never was: B. D. was never able to take me flying, and was not around me long enough for me to get to the age where I was more agile with math (although my agility with math never developed beyond a dull bluntness) so that I could get more deeply into electronics. The "if only" line of speculation is fruitless, but if only I had been a little older, I would likely have gotten much more out of the education B. D. was giving me.

  • A Drawing Lesson
    This may very well be the first thing B. D. ever did for me. (Not the first cartoon, but the first page he ever marked "For Scott" in letters to my mother, in Kingsport, TN.) The red ink on this page is mine. I took this very, very, very literally and thought there really would be a test, and thought I should learn to draw the items listed, and did not appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of the page.
  • Perspective drawing lesson
    I'm not sure if this goes in the artwork section or the wisdom section, but this paper has always been kept with the other papers of the wisdom section. (B. D. is illustrating one, two, and three vanishing point perspectives in these panels; he likely knew the terms, since he seems to have had enough art training at some point. Unfortunately, I do not know and never asked him about how he learned to draw.)
  • Department Of Useless Information, p. 1
  • Department Of Useless Information, p. 2
  • DTYMR Department Of Things You May Remember
    Of course, I didn't "remember" them (being 10 or 11 years old), but have over the years. (He wanted a discharged battery to take it apart and show me how they worked, I think.)
  • Now's A Good Time
  • Probable Facts - Some Not Authenticated
  • Useless Info Strikes Again
    Concerning item 3: Writing the numeral 1 as an upside down letter T was a convention. I'm not sure if people still do this or not.
  • Wandering About, page 1
    Literally "wandering" (not "wondering"), as in wandering from topic to topic.
  • Wandering, page 2
  • Wandering, page 3
  • The Best Line I Ever Heard In A Movie
    The best line I've ever heard was a cartoon with a pig whistling and singing the first line of "Tom Tom The Piper's Son".
  • A Few Facts
  • Dept. Of Useless Information
    The "AA" symbol with an arrow through it is from "Acme Aircraft", which deserves some explanation.
  • A Funny Story
  • A Fable
  • A Lawyer Would Say
  • If It Looks, Walks, And Smells Like A Skunk...
    Concerning #7, should it be surprising? Definitely, because whatever latent smarts I had did not emerge until many years later when I began to read real books, something I was too young to do much of when B. D. was alive. The shame is that he "missed" me by about four or five years. If he could have been around when I was a little older and able to do more advanced topics, we could have really made progress.
  • More Stuff, And Like That page 1
  • More Stuff, And Like That page 2
  • Maybe A Few More Facts, Maybe Not
  • Vox Populi
    This may be the only time BD ever used a foreign phrase in any of his writing. (Save German interjections in some war cartoons.) Concerning item #3, I (of course) had never heard of either person, both of whom flourished before my birth, and therefore the joke fell somewhat flat. Weld was a film actress who flourished in the 1960s. March was a film actor who flourished in the 1930s. Concerning items #7-9, RCA is the Radio Corporation of America, once a dominant vendor of electronics appliances and parts, but now receding into history. The dog is Nipper. Victor is a music label, part of the RCA conglomerate. (I, of course, knew none of this; RCA had already begun its decline long before I got interested in electronics.)
  • And There You Are
    Concerning #1, the time has not come yet. For #2, in Hendersonville, it was not unusual for the winter to get mild in February and the beginning of March, and then to have one more big snow in either March or April. That's a regular weather pattern in the area.
  • While You're Sitting Around Scratching
    "School announcements" - i.e., whether school would be closed or not for inclement weather. This must have been written in the early morning hours of Feb 29.
  • Black Is Back
  • Fact (Distance From A Thunderstorm)
  • Fact: A Police Story page 1
  • Fact: A Police Story page 2
  • The Story Of Butch page 1
    For this to make any sense, you will need to know who Butch is. Around this time, and I don't remember why, B. D. came to possess a small cardinal. He made, out of Styrofoam, a little bird-house facade for Butch to perch in. Butch's predominant characteristic was being mean. (See a photo of Butch and a close-up.) Naturally, with any such character, B. D. had to tell the story behind it.
  • The Story Of Butch page 2
  • The Story Of Butch page 3
  • BD's Opinion Of Disco
    He obviously didn't care for it much. He seemed to think good music ended after the Big Band era.
  • Good A Way As Any To Start The Month
    I did not know what a "flue" was, having never lived in a house with a wood-burning fireplace.
  • Anyway, It's Your Own Fault
  • As If It Mattered
  • We Learnt Good
  • Ham's Better With Redeye Gravy
  • Balsa Wood Plane diagram
    I had one of these airplanes, too, while growing up, although the glider model was much more common. The rubber band was wound by manually winding the propeller backwards, and then holding it while the plane was aimed up into the air. When the plane and propeller were let go, the plane was supposed to propel itself forward. I remember having mixed results. The glider version was more common for me as a child, and could be made to do tricks by shifting the wing position relative to the weight on the nose of the plane. I know B. D. and I must have experimented with these at some time, even though I don't have specific memories.
  • Well, If You Have Nothing Better To Do
  • Page Two
    This page has become detached from whatever used to be page one. I believe, from the numbering of the items, it belonged with the previous item, "Well, If You Have Nothing Better To Do". Whatever B. D.'s point was about the graham crackers (#7) escaped me then, and still escapes me. By the time I pursued #12 on the page, the Radio Telephone License (CB, or citizen's band), they had been discontinued. (Since there was apparently no qualification criteria to receive this license, that's hardly surprising.)
  • Page Two's back
  • Some Thoughts In Black For Black History Month
    Concerning #4, cigar boxes were becoming extremely hard to find by that time; I do not believe we ever got more than one or two. Concerning #5, the other page with the circuit has become separated from this one. I'm not sure which originally went with it.
  • More Phabulous Phacts Phor Phun page 1
    Concerning #1, this is an oblique statement of something BD said many times to me, that you could not aim a gun properly if you shot from the hip. Empirical tests with the BB gun proved this true (although with my aim and that gun, even shooting using the sight was a challenge!).
  • More Phabulous Phacts Phor Phun page 2
    This page is overleaf from the first one, and is the corrected #3.
  • More Phabulous Phacts Phor Phun page 3
  • More Phabulous Phacts Phor Phun page 4
  • "You Never Know"
    A story of the perils of trying to impress people.
  • Addendum
    To what this is an addendum, if there ever was anything specific, is not known. This paper has become separated from whatever it was an addendum to (if anything specific).
  • Facts, Like George, We Cannot Tell A Lie page 1
  • Facts, Like George, We Cannot Tell A Lie page 2

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