Lessons in Growing Up

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This past week, I received from Daedalus, my favorite discount book dealer, a volume entitled "Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood" and subtitled "What Kids should Know Before they Leave Home." Neither of my New York parents drew up lists of what my little sister Beverly and I ought to know before leaving the confines of "The Empire State." In retrospect, I think it would've been a very good idea, not only drawing up such a list but actually showing six-year-younger sister Bev and me such intricate techniques as balancing my new check book; taking my dirty clothes into town and stuffing them all into the nearest washing machine; (this was long before each and every home had its own washing machine plugged into a wall in the basement); elementary manners when escorting a young woman to a restaurant and a movie, then back to her dorm. That would have spared her and me a lot of embarrassment.

"In America," wrote Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, drolly, in 1952, "anyone can become president. That's one of the risks you take"

"It would be ideal, if by age 18," writes Vos Savant, "you were to: "Have gone trick-or-treating on Halloween, in costume, with your friends." (With Republicans throwing fear into everyone, that's clearly a delightful experience that no one will ever have again.) Another experience Vos Savant wishes youngsters could have again is "Have attended a Thanksgiving Day parade and waved an American flag." In days of yore, my father took me to the City and placed me on his shoulders (he was 6' 3" tall). But Ginny's father knew an army buddy who owned a Toffinetti candy store, and on major holidays she could go up on the roof, and wave her American flag at the parade passing below.

These next few require a bit of work. "Have attended a state or regional fair, sampled many foods and taken part in the activities." I don't know whether Nevada has ever done this, but Cottey, with its rich ethnic diversity, has done it, with great success, for some 10 years now. "Know why and how your own town or city was founded and by whom." Again, I don't know if Pat Brophy or any of the other town historians has ever presented such a history on Bushwhacker Days, but my guess is that such a public event would be a great hit, especially since many Nevadans have come to Nevada recently.

Second-to-last of Vos Savant's assignments that I would like to see Nevadans write, then submit to The Sunday Herald Tribune, reads, "Have planned a typical American itinerary for a visitor from a foreign country to introduce him or her to our way of life." And, finally, maybe on Bushwhacker Saturday, or some other appropriate holiday, ask a notable Nevada veteran of foreign wars to speak to an audience about his/her experiences overseas.

The last of Marilyn Vos Savant's ideas I'd like to propose is this: "Have spoken with some veteran of foreign wars and asked about their experiences overseas."