Friday, August 22, 2008

Off to College with The Round Oak Table



Here's a pretty typical column (complete text below) from Mom, back in the day. This was originally published on August 21, 1980. She writes about what's going on in her life: her parents 45th wedding anniversary and my oldest sister going off to college. Woven in there, however, are Mom's opinions, personality and sense of humor, that made her so dear to her readers for over 25 years.

Good luck dear friends who are delivering your babes to college this week. We're just a few years behind you.

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One thing that I really love about reading Mom's columns is that it's a total walk down memory lane for me. As much as I try to be "anonymous" in this blog, most of you reading it know me as Kati/Katie. In this column from 1980, Mom has an entire section on my antics. If I'd read this at 18, I probably would have been totally pissed (teenage angst and all). At 28, embarassed (exploring conservatism). And now, at 38, still experiencing angst and exploring conservatism, I love it. I see so much of my own daughter and son in how Mom wrote about me. I guess it's totally true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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This 1980 column is a great reminder of the fun we used to have on "road trips." The alphabet game Mom describes was a wonderful way to pass the time. My kids lately (and me too!) have been playing "Bingo." Whenever you see a yellow car, you say "Bingo" and get one point. If it's a yellow Mustang, you get 10 points! However, if you say Bingo and there is no yellow car, it's minus one for you. For example, two people see the same car and both yell "Bingo" but one's just a little before the other, the first person gets the point and the second person goes down one.

If you are the mom and triumphantly yell "Bingo Mustang" and then gloat about the 10 points you just got, you better be real sure it's a Mustang and not, say, a Dodge Charger. Especially if BB is in the car, as she will make you turn around and check up close that it is in fact a Mustang, and then upon finding out it's, say, a Charger, will take away your hard-won 10 points. For example, is all.
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Enjoy From the Round Oak Table, August 21, 1980:

Sunday, August 17, was quite a day for our household with two important events to celebrate. My parents, Tom and Madeline Bray of Des Moines, marked their 45th anniversary as husband and wife, and Mary Pat, our eldest daughter, left for college. As a "mom," let me tell you that one of these occasions was easier to deal with than the other.

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I suppose the thoughts that must run through every parent's mind as their offspring leave home is, "Did I do a good enough job? Have I prepared them for the challenges they are going to face: etc., etc., etc?" You, who are old hands at having children leave the nest, can probably relate to this. One "old hand" gave me some good advice this week. He said, "Put it out of your mind—forget it. You've done what you can do. Now let her be."

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Mary is attending the College of St. Mary in Omaha. It is a women's college located on a corner of a busy intersection. The buildings sit on a large, grassy campus adjoining the Aksarben raceway. The view from Mary's window is of the track. With a pair of binoculars she’ll have a box seat. One of her grandmothers has already asked if she provided the $2, would Mary Pat place a bet or two for her??? Really, Grandma!

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One advantage of a smaller college is the family atmosphere that prevails. The friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and students at CSM is overwhelming. There was a special crew of helpers who unloaded our car and carried all the paraphernalia to the right room. There was a dorm counselor "Johnny - on - the - spot" who let Mary Pat know who she was, where she was in the dorm and "let me know if you need anything." Before we left for die trek back to Mitchellville we gathered in the dining area with other students and their parents for a briefing and welcome by the officers of the college. The president of the college is a gentleman who probably has experience at launching offspring since he verbalized so well what many of us were feeling. His empathy and concern were reassuring to many nervous parents and students.

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Before the day was half over we knew why we had taken Katie, aged 10, with us. In the words of JPK, "for comic relief’ and in the words of her mother, "to keep everyone on their toes." She immediately offered to help Mary Pat unpack and rearrange her room. Offer was not accepted. She got around to the other rooms in the dorm to find out who was who and report back to her big sister. She ignored our piercing stares at speech time as she tottered on two legs on a four-legged chair near a large plate glass window. She kept her dad awake on 1-80 playing the Alphabet Game. The object of this car game is to see who can find all the letters of the alphabet, first, using all the available signs along the roadway or license plates or insignia on trucks. Both she and Jim agree that the rental company Jartan, has done players of the alphabet game a big favor. Usually the letter J (along with Q and Z) is difficult to find. Jartan rents equipment similar to that of U-Haul.

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We observed field erosion in western Iowa along 1-80 that was so cavernous that the owner had filled it with three junk cars end-to-end and it looked like there was room for more. Hopefully, the farmer will succeed in stopping it as the crops in the rest of the field looked excellent.

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Our lunch stop was at the Villager in Walnut, Iowa where we picked up a copy of the weekly newspaper, The Walnut Bureau. It is always interesting to compare other weeklies with our own Herald- Index and pick up new ideas. The Villager is also the restaurant- motel complex where we were charged sales tax (last year) on candy bars we were taking with us. After I protested via a letter regarding this violation of the Iowa sales tax law the owner sent me a check for $.03. He didn't realize he was in error and I shouldn't wonder since our tax laws are not just simple cut and dried things. There are always a million exceptions.

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Remember the Iran hostages in your prayers and thoughts this week.

MMK





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"I believe that we parents must encourage our children to become educated, so that they can get into a good college that we cannot afford" - Dave Barry

kk

2 comments:

ann said...

In 1980 I was going BACK to school to get my teacher certification. My best friend was also back in school to prepare for medical school. The column reads like a letter from my aunt. Were THOSE really 'the days?'

Liz said...

This is fabulous! Your mom was the original blogger! :)