Were Sundays a special day when you were a kid? They were for us. Not so much for my mom. Since my dad worked at the Omaha World Herald on the night shift, he worked well into the early hours of Sunday. If there were mechanical breakdowns, he could be hours late getting home. Usually, he was able to fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation at the old St. Joe’s Hospital Chapel at 5 a.m., on his way home. He attended Mass with the nurses, and hurried home so Mom could go at 6 a.m. to our parish church. She would get home, wake us kids up, and my older brother and I walked to St. Bridget’s in South Omaha for the 9 a.m. Children’s Mass. We sat separated by gender just like at daily mass, which we were required to attend, too. Sunday had lots of people seated in the pews behind the children.
There was no 5 p.m. Mass during those days. That started in the very late 60’s, early 70’s. To this day, my Protestant friends laugh. They swear Catholics are the only religious denomination who can tell you where the shortest service is, time-wise. I marvel at how true that is. Never about the sermon, or the music, just about the world’s shortest Mass. Crazy!
After we went to Mass, Mom loaded all of us into the family truckster and we would go visit both grandparent’s every Sunday. They were always home. Grandma Jewell baked clover leaf rolls and Caramel Sticky Buns every week. From scratch, no less. Her house smelled heavenly. I can still smell the love when I drive past 3324 Center Street in Omaha. It will always be Grandma’s house to me.
After that, we would go to Grandma Bobell’s house. Grandpa was sometimes mowing the grass or had just finished. We would sit in their shaded backyard and visit. No matter how boring it was, you would never dare say that word out loud. Never. Grandma usually had some concoction of a snack for us. Crackers, store bought cookies, frozen juice. They were exotic treats to us because we didn’t have crackers at home for a snack, and cookies were made from scratch (cheaper back then) and juice? I think not. We drank water. No Kool-Aid or sodas for us. Water. Take it or leave it.
Did it hurt us? Heck no! We even wore our nice clothes all day on Sunday. Sunday-best was a phrase I think people used for a very long time. No pajamas and jeans were not pants anyone wore unless you were a laborer or farmer. No, jeans were not permitted at school events, dances, and we wore uniforms so they were not mainstream until about 1970. Seriously. Little boys wore dress pants/trousers just like their Dad’s and Grandpa’s. They wore a belt, they wore button shirts. There was no skipping on what was acceptable attire. The t-shirt with messages was not on the horizon until the late 70’s or early 80s. We wore leather shoes. Everyone. Tennis shoes were Keds or Converse and were strictly for tennis or basketball. I believe the first jogging shoes were the blue suede/leather ones. The fad started in the gay community and grew from there.
I love a good pair of jeans and a comfy t-shirt, believe me. I do think there is a lot to say for how we dress as a society now. We have gone beyond casual/stay at home comfy/pajamas for going out in public. We have become kind of slovenly. With that, our demeanor and speech has become so as well. There is no “polite company” any more it seems. I’m just as guilty as the rest of the world for dressing casual and for very casual speech. Guilty as I charge. I think there is a lot of respect for ourselves and our fellow humans we could regain if we could monitor how we are when we leave our front doors. We would show more respect for ourselves. We would show more respect for each other. We would garner more respect, too.
I’m not saying wear suits everywhere, I’m saying wear well fitting clothes, clean clothes, and you will be met with better reactions. It should be part of everyone. Growing up the Babe and I didn’t have a lot as kids, but we were clean. Soap and water are still cheap. Clean clothes take effort but they are worth it. Pull your pants up, make sure they fit. Don’t send a bad message with your wardrobe. Be respectful. You will be respected.
There was a Black Lives Matter march of a different sort in Omaha yesterday. A group of young black men, dressed in suit coats, dress pants, shirts, ties, shoes, belts, who marched from Joslyn Museum on 24th and Dodge to somewhere downtown/Old Market area. I searched and could not find where, sorry! They have the right idea.
I believe we can all garner more respect when our appearance and demeanor is reflected in our dress, attitude, and actions. There is anger, and right now, although justified, I believe it is out of control. We all need to dial it back a notch or ten and use the anger for constructive dialogue. For it to work, we all need to be on the same page. All of us. Unless we do this soon, I think we’re doomed. And I would hate to see that happen to my country. The greatest country in the world. The United States of America. Let’s learn our real history, even the ugly parts. We need to remember how we’ve been oppressive, immoral, amoral, and committed grave errors for us to not go there again.
We all judge people. We hate to admit it but we do. Be aware and stop yourself from doing it. Especially if they are a lot different than you are. Check your prejudices and comments. About people of color. About policemen. About old people. About young people. I’m trying. Try with me.
Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your support. I’ll be here again tomorrow, as will our grandson Gavin, the dogs, and we’ll see you all then Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Respectful. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Stay outside.