As a kid, I never had my mouth washed out with Octagon soap for cussing or using off-color language. Nor did any of my nine brothers.
I never heard bad words at home, on the school playground or on the school bus.
So my ears perked up recently when , as we were having lunch, I heard the president of the United States use one of those bad four-letter words on national television.
It’s possible a synonym might not have sufficed, but hearing the head of the free world blurt it out seemed at best in poor taste.
As my late friend Jiggs Askew would say in such situations, “Why, he ain’t got no more manners than a yard dog!”
If one of us children even used “darn,” we risked immediate corporal punishment. My father’s “cuss word” was “plagonit.” When we complained to Mom that Pa got away with cussing, she reminded us that “Plagonit” was just an abbreviated form of “A plague on it”!
Has our culture deteriorated to the point that when a parent asks a child, “Where did you hear such language?,” the child might routinely reply, “From the president?”
Mr. President, it’s true that you’ve suffered more than your share of frustration and criticism, but for your own and the country’s image, when you’re speaking to the nation how about watching your language. Children may be listening.
Compassion not strained
In a recent column, I described my niece’s compassion in not only sparing a captured mouse’s life but also transporting it out of town and releasing it in an open field. It seems that compassion, at least for wild things, abounds.
Wallace Finlator emailed that when he trapped mice years ago, he would take them to nearby Hayes-Barton United Methodist Church and release them after instructing them to be good church mice.
Reader Art Clark also recently chauffeured a mouse caught in his trap to an open area a few miles away and released it.
“I returned later in the day to see how the little fella was faring and found no trace of him, probably because he’d become someone else’s meal,” Art said.
I share these incidents with you as reminders that in most of our fellow human beings there burns a reverence for life that extends even unto the least of these.
And that is good.
Driving through a West Raleigh neighborhood, I spotted a handsome tree house on a side yard. The sight sent my thoughts reeling back to the tree house my two children enjoyed.
My late neighbor Ed Green and I built it in one day while the children were at school.
Well, actually, Ed built it. I handed him tools and praise as he worked. We were well rewarded with the little girls’ squeals of surprise and happiness when they arrived from school and beheld the tree house.
I recently came across the “club” rules” that they posted inside.
1. Do not shout in club except when necessary.
2. Do not stick body out the windows.
3. Do not jump out of club. Use steps.
4. Do not jump up and down.
5. Safety first
One of the children had printed “By Ed and A.C.” on one of the tree house’s supports. It was one of my most treasured bylines. Would that every child could have a tree house.
“How many eggs do you have now?” asked friend Julia Williams of Raleigh.
“I have four,” she added.
Since I hadn’t checked the nest in days, I went out to the front lawn bird box and peeped in. Mrs. Blue was on the nest. Did she fly off in a flurry of frustration as is usually the case ? No. She sat still, defiant, and no doubt thinking, “Go away! Mind your own business!”
I withdrew out of appreciation for her decision to again reside on our premises. After all, according to internet sources, the worldwide bluebird population is only 22 million, 86 percent of which live in the U.S.