When I was a kid about eight or nine years old wandering through a toy store I spotted a boxed western frontier fort, complete with tiny soldiers and Indians and relayed to my mom that’s what I wanted for Christmas that year.
It wasn’t an extravagant request as it consisted of a series of painted tin pieces that had to be assembled and a variety of plastic toy soldiers, Indians (aka Native Americans) horses and a few plastic cannons.
Since my mom wasn’t with me when I spotted this treasure, I did my best to explain in detail exactly what it was that I saw and wanted. I failed miserably.
That Christmas morning I awoke to find under the tree a boxed farm, complete with red barn, little plastic chickens, pigs, a cow, horse and a few goats and plastic bales of hay. It also consisted of a plastic coverall-clad farmer and his aproned wife.
I’m sure my farm-raised Mother was convinced I would be as delighted with this agrarian toy as I would have been with a military one and feigning excitement I led her to believe that was the case because I would have “bought the farm” had I been ungrateful enough to complain.
However, a few days later, after conferring with some neighborhood pals, the farm soon became a strategic military objective occupied alternately by American GIs or German Nazis depending on the tides of our make-believe battles. The hapless farmer and his unfortunate wife were among the early collateral damage in our conflicts as were the farm animals, quickly decimated by the toy soldiers supplied by me and my pals and inspired by comic books such as “Sgt. Rock,” “Our Fighting Forces,” “G.I. Combat” and more in addition to the World War II movies and stories we heard from our “Greatest Generation” uncles, fathers and neighbors combined with our fertile imaginations.
The barn’s hay loft make an excellent sniper platform and machine gun emplacement, the hay bales provided cover for individual soldiers, and the fence surrounding the property was crushed by tiny tanks and shattered by artillery (provided by small firecrackers), until eventually there was nothing much left, with only a shell of a shattered tin barn remaining. Actually, the farm probably provided more hours of entertainment for me and my buddies than the western fort ever would have.
I recalled all of this after recently reading about an iconic childhood toy that recently underwent some major factory modifications…the Barbie doll.
I read that Barbie now comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and skin tones instead of the one blonde model that I recall my daughter and her friends playing with when they were children.
Barbie is now tall (tall), petite (short), curvy (fat) and has 14 different facial shapes. The day isn’t far off I am sure when we’ll see toy makers designing dolls and actions figures specifically for those kids unfortunate enough to be the progeny of those on the on the left and soon we’ll have a trans G.I. Joe, a lesbian Barbie and a bisexual Barney.
Speaking Of Political Correctness: While reading a magazine article recently entitled “The Pony Express: Dashing Bravely Into History”, when the author described some of the perils facing the riders she wrote: “……barring breakdowns or attacks by Native Americans;” “…..attacks by Native Americans were not uncommon;” and “The animals’ (horses) stamina proved to be the riders’ best protection when Native Americans attacked them on the trail between stations” and so on and on and on.
Okay, so Christopher Columbus named the Caribbean island natives he initially spotted “Indians” because he thought he had arrived in India. But even the locals didn’t seem to give a rip for more than 500 years or until some D.C. bureaucrat or unemployed college drop out with a peace symbol tattooed on his forehead decided that labeling American “Indians” as “Indians” was just wrong.
As mentioned in the preceding item, the original western fort I lusted after as a kid boldly mentioned the phrase “Indians” on the box not “Native Americans” and when my pals and I poured out of a Randolph Scott, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy or Gene Autry Saturday afternoon double-feature matinee rubbing our eyes to adjust to daylight following a news reel, eight cartoons, a Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy serial and 10 previews of coming attraction and, we raced home playing “cowboys and Indians” based on the characters we saw in those films. Do kids still do that today or do they play “Ranchers and Native Americans?” Or is there an app for that?
And if the Lone Ranger radio or TV series was still aired today would the prologue be changed to the following:
Narrator: “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-yo Silver” – the Lone Ranger! With his faithful Native American companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!
Somehow it just doesn’t have the same ring to it and hearing that even Jay Silverheels would probably turn to the masked Clayton Moore and ask: “What the hell was that kemo sabe?”
Since a recent Washington Post poll indicated that more than 90 percent of “Native Americans” (aka Indians) surveyed do NOT object to the term “Redskins” for Washington’s NFL football team, then maybe we can substitute that word for Indians rather than the awkward and bulky term “Native Americans” from now on, since it historically and accurately describes a group of fierce warriors adorned for the purpose of doing battle.
“Cowboys & Redskins!” Now there’s a phrase that brings back memories of some of the best football games I’ve ever witnessed between the NFL’s Washington and Dallas teams over the years. Somehow watching a game between the Native Americans and Ranchers just doesn’t cut it. However, I bet Barack Obama would give those team names a thumbs up but not the game, instead calling both squads “violent extremists” or “folks committing workplace violence.” Following the game he would then give a speech condemning the National Rifle Association and calling for all Americans to be disarmed.
Speaking Of Being Disarmed: Where do you think you are safer — in a school bearing a sign that says: “This is a gun-free zone” or at a gun show where everybody is armed? I can’t think of a single instance of a gun show being shot up but can list several “gun-free” schools that have been. Staying on that topic, earlier this week a man kicked a door of a Yule residence in and was immediately shot dead by a resident who was sleeping on a sofa with a gun nearby. A woman and a six or seven-year-old child were also sleeping in another room in the house. Commenting on the incident to news reporters Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said: “Certainly people have guns in their homes to protect themselves and their property. If you break into a home you might expect to get shot, so I would suggest not to break into homes.” If that resident had a sign in his window that read: “This is a gun-free zone” there may have been three dead residents in that Yulee house today as all the sign does is create a helpless victim zone which rule-following people probably obey, while the door-smashing criminal intruders do not. I like non-nonsense Sheriff Bill Leeper and he has my vote for as long as he desires to stay in office.
Is There A Psychiatrist in the House? During the last Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting, Commissioners Roy Smith’s and Len Kreger’s reasoning bore greater similarity to a psychological disorder than to common sense. The obviously befuddled novice commissioner Kreger said he thinks that Sadler Road and Main Beach enhancements should take precedent over 8th Street enhancements. But he voted against those improvements when they were proposed just a few months ago. Smith, who also voted down the very reasonable and much needed Fletcher, Sadler and Atlantic improvements, nodded in agreement with Kreger but didn’t explain why. It sounds like they’re regurgitating the bilge that the local News-Leader publisher Foy Maloy allows crazed lefty Ron Sapp to spew weekly. Maybe newly elected commissioners should have mental competency tests before they are allowed to take their seats as there is something definitely not in proper working order in the above the neck region of these two bewildered guys or they’ve been sitting too close to Mayor Johnny Miller. The next time critical issues such as these come before the commission I fully expect Commissioners Kreger and Smith to hold their hands over their ears like small children that don’t want to listen to Mother.
Clarence On The Right Page: Not often, but on a rare occasion I agree with syndicated columnist Clarence Page, and much of his opinion Sunday, July 3 was on the mark when he authored a piece that was locally headlined “Blacks must be willing to hear truths, too.” In it Thomas, dissected a speech by a black actor named Jesse Williams, a guy I’ve never heard of until Page, who is also black, wrote about him. Williams gave a talk at a Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards event recently saying some things that troubled both me and Page. Page eloquently highlighted an issue that most on the left prefer to ignore — the deterioration of the black culture. In his piece he said: “Real courage would have led Williams to say a few words about the cultural decay and ethnic apartheid that America’s own entertainment industry has promoted.” While admitting that Williams’ comments on police brutality, job opportunities and education were important topics, Page went on to say: “But we also need to talk about black folks killing each other, belittling the value of education and promoting the N-word in hip-hop media.” He said Williams’ criticism of those who express such concerns reminded him of “…the anti-intellectualism that I have witnessed sometimes in campus discussions where criticism is silenced in the interest of ‘safe spaces’ for students of color.” Good for Mr. Page, but is anybody on the left listening?
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: This past Wednesday afternoon I hobbled on my new knee over to 1120 South14th Street’s Doo Wop’s Diner to resume my monthly lunch confabs with friends Cal Atwood and Joe Murphy where we discussed critical issues ranging from “the good ‘ole days” and “who’s the island’s best bartender ” to the upcoming elections and Hillary Clinton’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card. As a group it was our first lunch visit to the Doo Wop and it won’t be the last as the food was as good as the friendly service and the atmosphere fun, even for those who don’t have a clue who Lucille Ball was or what Doo Wop music is. The place is decorated in a 1950s motif and the menu features breakfast anytime of the day during its early morning opening to its 3 p.m. closing time seven days a week. Old fashion malts ,banana splits, root beer floats and thick shakes are also on the menu as are a range of Diner Dinners’ that include meatloaf with two sides for just $8.50, roast turkey with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce for only ten bucks and grilled liver & onions with a couple of sides for just nine dollars. If you really want to go back in time sit at one of the old-fashioned lunch counter’s swivel seats and watch “I Love Lucy” reruns while enjoying a half-pound burger, fries and cole slaw for $10.00. There are a variety of other items on the menu all reasonably priced. And speaking of liver and onions, when I was an employee of IBM many years ago I asked one of the company’s cafeteria managers what the most popular item on their menu was and he surprisingly told me that it was “liver and onions” because he said, “most folks don’t get it at home because it stinks up the house while cooking and most wives don’t like to touch it, much less cook or eat it” so their husbands order it at the company canteen. Not me, and I still don’t like the stuff. There is big news breaking in the downtown bar and restaurant arena, but since I can’t verify it at this time, it’ll have to wait until all parties confirm it. Bad news for all you Fred Heads as I just heard yesterday that Fred’s on Ash and South 8th Street will close soon but no idea what maybe coming if anything yet. How about a wine and cheese shop that also sells liquor and beer?