Mothers Diary
We watching this wild show on television Sunday evening – the one where all the clocks go crazy or stop altogether, and it snows in July, and night descends in the middle of the forenoon, or whenever the mechanical clock man stalks about the village with dirty work in mind.
I thought to myself – now the children really shouldn't be watching this. It'll give them nightmares.
Then came the scene where there was screaming pandemonium in the mayor's house with everyone moaning and wailing because they didn't know the time or date, and the mayor lost his temper and loudly ordered everyone to leave the room.
"Now they know what time it is," chortled Cynthia, in glee, "it's time to get out."

I have sometimes been moved to worry about the effect on my children of some aspects of television programs – ever since the time when Becky, about 3 years old, drank water with a great flourish, pretending it was Schlitz!
But I have never seen too much harm resulting from what children saw and heard, and I have observed a great deal of good. My youngsters know who the president is, anyway – which is more than I knew when I was nine, I am sure, and are intimately acquainted with his appearance, speech and personality.
They have never been to the UN building, but they have seen and heard the UN in session. They have seen nominating conventions and inaugurals. They have seen and listened to Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost. They have been in cathedrals and slums, in Alaska and California and on airplanes and ships. They have seen operas and concerts and heard Shakespeare interpreted by the best actors. They have seen history and poetry, and the beauty of the earth. They have seen the best and the worst of the world we live in today – all through the medium of television.
And I think it is good and right. Surely our children will grow up to be better and more responsible citizens because of it.

Of course, there are times when I wonder. Like the evening not too long ago when Becky came to me in a terrible flurry.
"They burned him," she announced in horror. "They burned that poor Indian boy. Why?"
Now really, I thought. She had been watching Wagon Train, and I assumed she meant a burning at the stake or something similar, and that, I thought was carrying things too far.
But it seemed that it was apparently a funeral pyre and the Indian boy had been quite dead before the fire was lighted. I hadn't seen the program so it wasn't too clear. But I had a terrible time explaining the custom to Becky.
And, of course, I foolishly went on to explain that cremation was common practice in our time – and why- and this upset her even more.
The session ended with me promising her, cross my heart and hope to die, that she would be buried properly when her time came. She would be furious with everybody concerned if she was cremated, she informed me.

She then went off to read something soothing to relieve her mind. And, that is another thing I'm thankful for. Our children are not handcuffed to television. They like to read and do, as well as watch and listen, which balances everything nicely.
Dale has always been willing to leave the most exciting football game on the screen to go outside and play football with the neighbor boys.
Which pleases me very much because then I can turn the set off completely and do some uninterrupted reading or doing myself.

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Mothers Diary
Last week was a motley one – filled with work, study of philosophy (yes, indeed), meetings, snow, cancelled meetings, an unexpected lunch guest Friday noon (you never know what will happen to you in February), and a real kitchen binge Saturday which resulted in 2 salads, two desserts, and two complete meals. My family was so astonished they could hardly manage it, but they all recovered Sunday when they had to fend for themselves for lunch in the evening.

So, February has begun in its usual disorganized and unpredictable fashion, and Becky made herself unpopular with me by bustling about the house, substituting all the January calendars with February ones.
"But why not?" she asked in astonishment, when I complained. "It is February."

I always find it difficult to explain to them – my personal anathema to February. After all, it's got Valentine's Day in it!
"It doesn't seem so bad," I told her, "If February isn't staring at me all over the place."
Her eyes glowed with the cold clear light of reason as she took down the remaining calendar – the one that hangs on our bathroom door – the one that I see first thing every morning.
"Is nothing sacred to you?" I asked gloomily.
"No," she said and flipped the page to February.
So now my defenses are down and anything can happen – though when I can find time for anything more is questionable. The days are already crowded with all sorts of commitments that have begun to spill over into March.
I shall have to reinstate a program I followed two or three years back when my schedule became impossibly crowded. For a few days, I answered every telephone call with "No" instead "hello." It worked very well until people caught on and began ignoring by salutation.
And besides that, it startled some of my children's friends into such misery and incoherence that I had to give it up.

I think it was all day Friday with deep thoughts and philosophy that sent me roaring to the kitchen and the oven on Saturday. I had some digging to do for a meditation this month at a Lenten service, so I began with the books already at hand.
I was astonished to discover the material available from my husband's insatiable book purchasing and his college textbooks. I was so deep in Kant, and Voltaire, St. Augustine and Paul Tillich that I greeted Lloyd and Paul somewhat coldly when they came stomping through the snow for lunch.
"I thought you were in Fort Dodge," I said. "I didn't expect you for lunch. Why didn't you eat lunch over there?"
"Cheaper here," they told me blithely and settled down in cozy comfort, ignoring their cool reception.

So I lost an hour before I got back to my studying. It was good for me, though, to stretch my mind and ponder and puzzle and re-read.
It had been a long time since I had come to the end of a page of reading and said to myself in blank bewilderment, "What did it say?" But there was joy and adventure in going back over it for clarification. Someday I think I'll go back to college before I forget entirely how to study.

And no headache at the end of the day. Why, I wonder? I had a terrific one after reading a light novel on Sunday!

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Mothers Diary
I felt as if we had come a full circle Sunday afternoon as I sat in Guild Hall and listened to Janice Jones introduce her piano pupils. I had first heard Janice play at a Play Day program in that very room, when she was a kindergarten pupil. Then two or three years ago I heard her play at a Women's Club program in the church.
Sunday was the climax as her pupils played the piano in Guild Hall.

I sat where I could see each youngster as he played, the children who listened and awaited their turns, and Janice. And as my attention went from one to another of the fluttery children, and to Janice, outwardly serene at least, I remembered other recitals of long ago, and I decided that youngsters and teachers had more stamina and poise nowadays.
No one seemed nervous. As a matter of fact, they all looked as if they were enjoying themselves.
"Why should I be nervous?" said Becky afterward in great surprise. "After all, I was in a recital before and I played for the Mr. and Mrs. Club – remember?"

Well, in my youth I was in more than one recital and my nervousness, and apprehension and down-right misery increased with each performance. My hands grew clammy, perspiration stood out on my forehead and everything inside of me exchanged places and did a square dance before and during my appearance.
My teacher did not smile benignly either as I approached the piano, or dare to settle back with confidence as I struck the first note. She knew exactly what to expect of a jittery pupil who hadn't practiced enough.

I am still nervous at recitals. It is even harder as a mother of a performer, and cold chills chase hot tremors up and down my back when any of my children appear in the public eye. I even suffer at the junior high basketball games. I sit huddled in a corner trying to avoid recognition. If Dale loses the ball, I wish not to be noticed and if he makes a basket, it doesn't seem decent to cheer wildly.
I have never been one to go out of my mind at an athletic contest anyway. I have been criticized for this, but I just sit there and I think of the past twelve long years of balls bouncing against the house and garage and the living room walls, and of boys who cannot walk through a door without leaping at the ceiling – even if I am right there carrying a cup of hot coffee. And I cannot get too excited.
I just feel nervous.

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Mothers Diary
You remember Friday evening and what the weather was like. It was a time of decision for anyone who had made any plans for going any farther than ฝ mile from his front door the next day. It was a time for any sensible person to cancel arrangements of any description and to plan on a cozy day at home.

But people going to speech contests are not sensible. So I spent the evening in gloomy foreboding, remembering especially the contest two years ago when the roads to Spencer were reported impassable and the Manson students went anyway.
So when the phone rang late in the evening and it was Muriel Vetter, I thought, could it be? Have they really postponed the trip to Carroll?
Muriel sounded cheerful.
"Isn't this awful?" she said and I agreed – hopefully.
"Don just got back from Rockwell City and it took him 45 minutes," she announced dramatically.
Well, I thought, that sort of settles it.
"And," she went on, "he talked to a man who had just come from Carroll and he said the highway was just a sheet of ice."
I relaxed. So there we were.
"So," said Muriel, "We're leaving at six o'clock instead of seven. We thought we'd better allow two hours for the trip."
All right – so speech people are not sensible!

The car was at my door at six o'clock on schedule and I surveyed its occupants gloomily, Don Fitzgerald, driver, Tracy Brown and Ronnie Oberhelman.
"I don't know why I ever got myself associated with you speech people," I told them. "How are the roads?"
"Terrible," they told me.
"Can't control the rear wheels at all in this sandy slush," said Don cheerfully.
My blood chilled. "Let's not go." I said.
We stopped for Muriel. She got in the front seat and Tracy climbed in back with Ronnie and me.
"Let me sit on the outside," I said, "Then when we slide off the road you can land on me. I'm fatter and it won't be such a shock."

We got to the highway and the road was not good.
"Let's go back," I said.
Don just hunched his big shoulders over the wheel and plowed on. And, as far as I could see, he had perfect control over the rear wheels, but I did not put my whole weight down. I was ready for anything. We arrived at the Rockwell City intersection and the reports were right. The highway was a solid sheet of ice.
"Let's go back," I said.

Don drove on steadily and surely, and it began to sleet and the windshield wipers busily accumulated ice. Not once did we skid and I in my corner relaxed a little. We even carried on a sprightly conversation.
Next time we drive to a speech contest on ice, I want to ride in Don's car. Only once on the trip home did he seem the least bit perturbed. And that was when he got behind a car driven by someone who believed that the slower one drives on ice, the least damage done when one lands in the ditch as is inevitable, naturally.
I am of this theory, myself. I have argued with my husband by the hour on this matter as he has sailed along, and I have explained to him that momentum alone can be disastrous when he begins skid. It stands to reason that the danger is minimized if you creep along at five miles an hour, and if possible with the two right wheels over the curb on rougher terrain.
Of course, it is even less dangerous if you are not moving at all! A sane person would stay home as I said in the first place.

But the slow driver ahead of him did not make Don happy. He spoke to him in no affectionate terms. It's too bad the driver couldn't hear him. He told him to get a move on because there was a long hill ahead and he would whip around for sure at the rate he was going.
I sat bolt upright.
"Then what happens to us?" I asked.
"Same thing," said Don.
But nothing happened. And we had passed someone who had – a big semi-trailer jackknifed in the ditch.

The contest at Carroll was just about as messy as the roads. Weeks of planning and organization had gone for nothing. With a fraction of students able to be there, and only two and ฝ judges present for each division, there was need for frantic last minute organization and planning. I must say, though that the Sisters in charge were magnificent.
With only "2 ฝ judges" for each division, it was necessary for some divisions to be content with only 2 judges, which any way you look at it, was not good.
Two of us struggled along with interpretive prose half the morning, before a 3rd emergency judge was sent in, and he was replaced before noon by a different one. By noon we had heard about 10 students out of 109 entrants and there were only a few more in the afternoon.
So you see the picture of a hectic Saturday in Carroll.

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