Stephenson Tales

Wee Wisdom (or) Bright Sayings of Bright Children

Over the years, I suppose every family accumulates a collection of memorable things that their children have uttered in their early days, which become family sayings that get passed on and on and on.

There are many in the Stephenson family, of course, but there are some which deserve to be recorded and shared with others. Here are a few:

  1. I just wrote the tale about John's birth and my contretemps with the nurse. Sequel = When I got home from the hospital I went to the third floor where Lucky was asleep to wake her with the news that she had a baby brother. But, before I get to that moment, I must go back a bit: My first teaching assignment was at the Highland Park Junior College and we had a third floor apartment on Second Avenue—just across the street from the High School—which was at the other end of the building complex comprised of the High School and the College. I had two young students at the College whose names were Doris and Dolores, Doris came to our apartment many times for lunch and she loved Lucky and was loved in return. Doris's father was named Angelo. I do not remember her mother's name, they gave Lucky a rubber doll, whom she named Angelo, and Angelo joined Lucky's other dolls—a tiny 3-inch female—(which she had named Tassahmmmm) in her bed at night. When we moved back to Ann Arbor to start work on the PhD, both Doris and Dolores enrolled at Michigan and we were in several plays together. Now back to John's birth: when I went up to tell Lucky the news, she was asleep with both dolls. I woke her up and told her that she had a new baby brother. "Do you know what his name is?" There was a short pause and then she said brightly, "Angelo is a very nice name!"
  2. All the children had our Interlochen summer home as a constant. Although I taught at Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, and Ohio, Duck Lake Michigan is where we spent our vacations. It is a clear, spring-fed, cool lake with water that was clean enough to drink (during the early years before gradual pollution compromised it). When we went to the ocean for the first time we took our Beemer house trailer which we parked at the Hollywood Beach Trailer park—just outside Hollywood where I had been invited to give a speech on the social impact of TV. It was warm and sunny and the children wanted, of course, to swim in the wet expanse of sea water—which was only about 50 feet from our trailer. When Evie went in for the first time, she dived into a small wave and came up with a very surprised look on her face, turned to us, and exclaimed, "Somebody put salt in this ocean!"
  3. When John and Alan were little, we all lived together at the Slosson's big house on Devonshire, and if ever Alan was accused of doing something naughty (which, as Mom used to say, was "right often") he immediately claimed his innocence to Mary Libby with the sure-fire excuse: "John did it." That worked fine for as long as they were in Ann Arbor, but then David took a job with his father in Bronxville, New York. The first time he was caught in some infraction of the rules, he relied on his old excuse that it had been John—not realizing that John was some 700 miles to the west.
  4. As I wrote the above, I was reminded of a similar situation involving Toni and Robbie. The two youngest shared the bedroom over the porch in our Kent house on Knoll Road. One time Toni was writing on the wall and wrote "Robbie" in one place. When asked about it she claimed that Robbie had written it, not realizing that Robbie did not yet know how to write!
  5. We always played games with the babies, and one of which they all enjoyed in turn was, "What does the ___________ say?" The response was, of course, whatever sound that particular creature might (through the human vocal filter) make ("roar," "baaaaa," "bow wow," "meow," etc.) Just for fun we asked Toni, "What does the cucumber say?" She looked puzzled for a moment, and then said, with a beautiful knowing smile, "NOTHING!" It was such a delightful response that we ALWAYS kept it in the game from then on—and the answer was always greeted with hearty giggles from everybody.

Composed 31 August 2009; Transcribed by Robin

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2009

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