By Glenda Chandler
After the fire is laid, we sit in front of the fireplace each morning and take a few minutes to sip a final cup of coffee before beginning our day. Warmed by the fire’s comforting heat and glow, we often ponder days gone by and how we view them in retrospect. Those days from our pragmatic past were not necessarily better or worse, they were just ordinary days from a different era. They were days that informed our future; days that were instrumental in our nascent development; days that were our passage into adulthood; days that held joy in greater proportion than sorrow, which is inevitable in life; and days that continue to cheer us in the twilight of our years.
Before either of us had TV, we had radio and the funny pages. Recently, we discussed the funnies, which were a source of entertainment, education, and enlightenment for anyone who took time to read them.
The newspaper in my community was a weekly publication, so our family didn’t have daily access to the news or funnies. That was okay; we had enough sense to entertain ourselves without any outside influence.
When the newspaper arrived, we took turns reading it. Parents ended their reading with the funnies; children began with them and only went to the news section if something caught their eye. As a child, I couldn’t hold the paper open the full span of its width, so I would spread it out on the floor and sit on my knees to read — I could easily do that then.
“Lil Abner” of Dogpatch USA and “Snuffy Smith” from Hootin’ Holler were flawed, stereotypical characterizations of mountain folks. Of course, people who are more isolated from mainstream populations are commonly misunderstood; ergo, they fall prey to scorn and ridicule. This is also the case for those who live in the country, inner cities, and exclusively cultural or ethnic communities. However, throughout history, folks from the hills have been self-sufficient and ingenious enough to thrive when city slickers would have long ago cried “uncle.” Added to that, you don’t see mountaineers flocking to big cities to build their vacation homes!
My husband enjoyed “Dick Tracy,” who tackled crime and corruption with favorable outcomes. Tracy pursued villains and solved crimes with novel mechanisms and unheard of scientific ideas. Some of his techniques have since become reality. Who would have known then that he and his law enforcement colleagues were wearing Apple Watch prototypes to communicate with one another?
I liked “Little Orphan Annie” with her mop of curly hair, vacant wide-eyed gaze, and dog Sandy. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the nuances of all the crime and corruption Annie encountered and resolved with the help of her benefactor, Daddy Warbucks. I only knew she was not afraid to confront bullies in order to right the wrongs in her world. “Leaping lizards,” we need Annie in Washington, DC these days.
Today, we subscribe to The Fayetteville Observer online and recommend it to others. I can read it while sitting at home or waiting in medical offices for appointments. There’s still a full page of funnies; however, if you look at the bottom of the front page, they are referred to as comics — that’s what sophistication and progress will do for you.
We do read the news, but the only funny we read these days is “Pickles.” We’re convinced the author has bugged our house with hidden cameras and is sharing our lives with the world!
After our discussion of long-ago funnies, my husband reminded me that it was my turn to put out the fire and take out the ashes. I enjoy our special time together, so I don’t object to the chore when it’s my turn. I simply pick up the remote and press the power button … out goes the fire, heat, and ashes. Now that’s progress!
Glenda Chandler is a previous contributor to The Readers Write.