Thursday, May 2, 2013


When we lived in Germany, certain things were limited simply by distance and language. The idea of teaching the children of soldiers a second language was as foreign then as the German we were surrounded by when we left the military posts.  Never mind that the German school children knew English better than we did. The Army had no time for such nonsense; they had a Cold War to run and East Germans to glare at over that big Wall. 

Therefore, we only had ONE English television station, the Armed Forces Network, which rotated through Star Trek and Gunsmoke reruns and whatever shows had been cancelled by the big three(I know it's a shock, but there used to be only three TV stations!).   We only had ONE radio station that only played Top Forty music.  And we only had ONE newspaper, the Stars and Stripes.  

It was a hard life, but we did the best we could.

Every morning, the paper would be delivered to our doormat before the sun rose.  My dad would sit at the dining room table in front of the picture window and read the funnies while waiting for the coffee to percolate.  Then he would fold everything up and lay the paper flat on the table for my mother to read when she got up.  When my brother and I finally dragged ourselves out of bed to the kitchen for our morning cereal, we would pass the dining room table. 

I have a brain that automatically scans for patterns, and I was just getting the hang of reading.  Since the newspaper was lying there, my brain would zero in on it.  The dots of ink on the page formed patterns of letters, after all, and the letters became words, and the words became sentences, and then lo! Paragraphs. It was heady stuff for a third grader.  On this particular morning in October of 1973, my brain registered that the headline of the paper was much larger than usual.  BIG LETTERS.  BIG LETTERS equal IMPORTANT.  I stopped to read it aloud:    "AGNEW RESIGNS."  

"Mom, who is Agnew?"  I often peppered my mother with questions, which she sometimes answered.

"Vice President Spiro Agnew."

"What did he do?" I was sure that Agnew must have done something very terrible, like not eat his vegetables or take his sister's toy without asking. 

"He was an idiot."  I was disappointed in her answer, after all the excitement of BIG LETTERS.  I ruminated for a minute or two.    

"Hey Mom, what's an idiot?"

"Go look it up."  My mom walked into the kitchen, and that was that.  Eventually, I did look up the word 'idiot', which was now forever associated with the former Vice President in my head.  In time, the word 'idiot' generalized to include all politicians, but it all started with Spiro Agnew.    

Prompt: How old were you? Share one of the first news stories you remember caring about.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. What a great prompt! Great story too!

  2. This is simply good. Really. Felt like a 3rd grader as I read it and mom left me hanging. Enjoyed it!

  3. Great post! Very authentic.

    I realized I had forgotten all about Spiro Agnew ...

  4. Funny. And I remember those days of just 3 networks and the Stars and Stripes and only having the Air Forces News on TV. That's how it was in the 70's, when I was in the Air Force sometime after Agnew & Nixon left office. However, I was in high school during Watergate and so on and my education about it came from all the amusing radio interviews that involved musical answers to the questions for various political figures.

  5. Your dad summed it up pretty well with that one word!


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