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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mind Games: The Good Kind

After watching this clip of the products of our Unionized American Education system. It reminded me of "The Night of the Living Dead". Brain dead zombies who only want to destroy the living. The scary thing is that these brain dead zombies actually VOTE and make decisions that affect the rest of us. Be very afraid.

I appreciate my parents more and more every day. They taught us to think, reason and to learn.

A quick background:

When I was a child, we traveled the US. Traveled, A LOT. My parents, myself and my younger brother. We were basically gypsies and lived in a trailer that we hauled behind a string of station wagons.

Here is a photo of the trailer in the background.

I think we were in San Antonio at the time. My brother was very much into Davy Crockett (can you tell?) and we were going to the Alamo. Nice bangs, huh? Hair cutting might not have been my mother's forte.

The traveling was for my parents' jobs. They were both Union Printers back when printing was a highly skilled occupation. Today, anyone who can use a word processor and a keyboard can work in the industry. Back then, it was hot lead type and required math skills.

As Union card holders, they could "pull a traveling card". This meant that you could go into any newspaper and see if anyone was looking for a "sub". This means that the permanent employee would like to take his vacation or some extra time off, and then my parents could step in and work in their place. As a result of this lifestyle we moved from town to town and my brother and I went to many different schools in a year. I remember, and have been told, at least 8 in my second grade year.

In the 50's traveling in the car wasn't entertaining or really much fun. No air-conditioning. AM Radio with spotty reception. No seat belts. Traveling through Arizona on Route 66 for the fourth or fifth time, with two irritable fighting children in the back seat, my parents must have been out of their minds. To beat the heat, we used a window hung evaporative cooler (like the one in the photo) and hung canvas bags of water in front of the radiator to keep the car from boiling over. My parents would take turns driving and would place wet towels on the arm that was exposed to the blistering sun to keep from blistering themselves. entertain us and try to keep our collective sanity, we played "Mind Games", sang songs in rounds and in harmony and we practiced our reading skills on road signs and of course Burma Shave signs.

One of the favorite Mind Games was: "I'm Thinking of a Thing".

You had to specify it was Animal, Mineral, or Vegetable or a blend of the three Then the game was to ask questions that could only be answered by Yes or No. It really made us think and think logically. We could while away hours playing this game.

If the thing was "A Mink Coat", it was Animal.
"is it a living animal" No
"is it a part of an animal" Yes
"do we have one of these" No
"does anyone we know have one" Yes

And so on, until we guessed it or gave up and the person won that round. My brother was really good at picking things that we could never ever guess. A feather.

My mother or father would read stories to us during these long long drives and read from historical novels and text books and we would discuss, ask questions and absorb the information like the little mind sponges that children are. We played a game where we would add up the numbers on the license plates ahead of us and see who got the right answer first. My mother usually won because the rest of us are math challenged. We would name the animals that we have seen and see who got the most between towns. Who could spot the most cars from different States. My brother and I, take turns reading the road signs. And when we were all tired out, climb over the back seat and go to sleep on the pillows and blankets in the back of the wagon. I imagine that was a huge relief for my parents. Blessed silence.

Every day, I thank my parents for giving me a really unique and wonderful childhood and encouraging us to learn and to think.


  1. We called "thinking of a thing" "twenty questions" If no one got it in twenty questions you had to come up with another "thing". Our favorite game was the alphabet game, just picking the letters up from the signs on the road was the easy way, getting through the alphabet from license plates took forever. We didn't travel as much as you, but we did a lot of the same things when I was a kid.

    As I grew up and "had" kids we traveled a lot more, but the games were the same. Cow poker was a big thing, but I've forgotten how it was played (Some where around my seventieth birthday I began to forget lots of things.)

  2. I'm laughing about the haircut because my siblings and I all had the same home haircuts until we were in high school because we were not rich people. Actually, did any kids have salon cuts back then? Is that a now thing that parents waste good money for someone to cut a toddler's hair?

  3. I played the same game when traveling as a child with my Irish grandfather.

    Except his "thing" would always be incredibly obscure, and there were not limits to the questions. The game would end when I quit in anger.

    Then he'd say that the thing he was thinking of was a Sears Craftsman 1/2" drive socket wrench with an 11/16" socket, or maybe a 2-1/2 gallon Hudson weed sprayer with diluted nicotine spray for killing tomato bugs.