It’s the digital age and I do not live in a binder

I want to respond to yesterday’s comments with a story or two. Radical Betty did indeed use some colorful language, including “batshit” and another fave of mine, “rat’s ass”. And then there was the time that UKW and I were about 10 and we were sitting on the back steps outside the Old Cabin kitchen. RB was swashbuckling around the kitchen cleaning up and probably getting a head start on dinner (for 12 or whatever it was) and generally flinging things around*. All of a sudden she exploded with, “That god damn little doodly-squat doesn’t hold anything!” Well, first. When I was a kid, it was a rare event to hear any of the G2 Fin relatives swear. And also. “Doodly-squat?” I had never heard that particular word before. UKW and I looked at each other and totally cracked up! The object of her outburst was grandma’s little white garbage can, the old-fashioned kind with a lid and a foot pedal. This was before plastic garbage bags so there was always a paper grocery bag in there as a liner. I would’ve been annoyed with it too!

The Commander met Radical Betty when they both lived in Mary Mayo hall at Moo-U aka Michigan State University. They were friends from the get-go and then The Comm married Radical Betty’s brother and he became my dad. That’s a whole long story that I’ve probably told before and probably will again but my point here is that RB and The Comm supported each other throughout their adult lives and right up until the day that RB died.

I can’t speak to Radical Betty’s political leanings back when I was a kid. I remember my parents being staunch Republicans. Sometime in the early 1960s, I remember talking about a presidential race with The Comm and she said she and my dad were going to walk into that voting booth and pull the REPUBLICAN lever. It was probably the Nixon / Kennedy race. I was in 1st grade then and I remember having a straw poll in that class — yes, Kennedy won and I can still remember Dennis Jenks and some other kid going back and forth at each other in the belligerent fashion of six-year-olds: “Nixon.” “Kennedy.” “Nixon.” “Kennedy.” I forget which side Dennis was on.

So I came from Republicans. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. My dad basically got so sick of politicians that he tuned them out. Or tried to. We were up at the moomincabin during the whole the Clinton blue dress stuff and every time he heard “blue dress” on NPR, he would say, “Stick it!” Right in front of the school-age grandchildren. But he hated all politicians by that time. I can only guess that he voted for whoever The Comm told him to. Or maybe not. You never know and he could be pretty sly even those last few years.

The Commander? My mother was strongly pro-choice and I won’t say feminist exactly but, like me, she was an advocate for ALL people, regardless of gender, to have equal access to opportunities. Hey, her dad (back in the 1930s AND a republican!) supported that and paid for her to go to college. I don’t know when the tide turned but she was an Obama supporter in 2008, oh boy oh boy. One of my last good memories of her is the night of the 2012 State of the Union speech. She sat up in what became her deathbed a few weeks later and watched the entire speech. I fell asleep in a chair next to her bed. She was looking forward to voting for Obama again. It’s too bad that she won’t get that chance.

* I have some personality traits in common with Radical Betty but she had many that I don’t. Maybe she got more DNA from my great-grandparents than I did. The ones who homesteaded in northern Saskatchewan back before airplanes were but a dream in the Wright brothers eyes. I do think that I emulate her in terms of kitchen swashbuckling!

2 Responses to “It’s the digital age and I do not live in a binder”

  1. Margaret Says:

    My parents, especially my dad, are huge Obama fans! Of course, I’m voting for him too, but I hate the dishonesty of both sides of the campaign. I’d like someone to take the higher ground. However, that loses elections in this country since people don’t seem to research or fact check a doodly squat thing, as RB would say. Or give a rat’s ass about what’s logical or right. End of rant.

  2. Tonya Watkins Says:

    I remember when I was young, my parents were very right-winged. I recall seeing John Birch Society literature in the bathroom for reading material. Even in elementary school I found it disturbing (as well as boring). They were always ranting about “hand-outs” and “welfare” and I’d come to dread holidays when it seemed that was all the grown-ups talked about, and my mother in particular would work herself up into a lather. However, I do remember there was a ruckus when my dad proclaimed he was voting for Lyndon Johnson and my mom was voting for Goldwater. Fast forward to the mid-70s and my dad suddenly found himself unemployed after being a die-hard Company Man. It was a very humbling experience for them to have to rely on unemployment for several months. And that turned the tide for my mom. Scared the crap out of her how truly vulnerable they were, even doing all the right things. They emerged from that just fine, but she never forgot how grateful she was to have that safety net when they needed it, and her politics made a 180. It was also the time that I was coming of age and had strong opinions about women’s rights and pro-choice. She’d work herself into a lather over her disgust for both of the George Bushes, making my right-wing uncle go nuclear. She would have loved Pres. Obama. And she’d be really entertaining around that uncle right now who lives for Fox News. (My dad has always kept his opinions pretty close to his vest, but I know he has no tolerance for Fox News!)