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The Stranger

Posted by  $  richrobinson 5 years, 10 months ago to The Gulch: General
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The Stranger

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up - while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places - and go to her room read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house - not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt he needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?

We always called him TV.



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  • Posted by PeterAsher 5 years, 10 months ago
    Born in ’34, I was just old enough not to get ensnared by TV. I was a sail-boater and into other outdoor activities so did not succumb to the temptation. At night I was still building models and then a kit boat. I only suffered being left out of the insider jokes in school the morning after the Martin and Lewis show.

    There was study back in the ‘70’s that observed that up to the age of five, we develop the ability to form mental image pictures from words. When kids are fed the pictures themselves, that ability atrophies to a great degree.

    As this is my first post;

    I read Atlas and then the Fountainhead in ’61. Changed my life totally! Went back to school at night to study architecture, quit the family business, went off to Europe where I could get architectural jobs without a degree.
    Still designing, building and wood-crafting full time at 79.

    My favorite quote from Atlas “An honest man is one who knows he cannot consume more then he produces.”

    Peter Asher
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    • Posted by LetsShrug 5 years, 10 months ago
      Welcome to the gulch PeterAsher :) Thank you for mentioning the study about being able to form images from words at young ages. I will keep that in mind while reading to my new grandson. The imagination is underrated these days. Not sure how we've gotten to this point of so many not having appreciation for the things they should, yet having it in abundance for things that they shouldn't. Look forward to hearing more from you. :)
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    • Posted by meltdown 5 years, 10 months ago
      I, too, was born in 1934. During WW2 I had heroes, real heroes, to admire. During my school years I always tried to excel in academics and sports, so soon after I graduated from professional school I read Atlas Shrugged, and I am to this day hooked on Rand's philosophy.
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    • Posted by Non_mooching_artist 5 years, 10 months ago
      Wow! Welcome to the gulch!

      I, too, sail. Love it. Worked on The Makabar X, a racing schooner built in 1930, designed and owned by by John Alden. Another sloop, '30, built in 1936, designed by Winthrop Warner.
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    • Posted by  $  johnrobert2 5 years, 10 months ago
      You should remember the.definition of an honest politician. The ones we have now are too elastic for my taste. BTW, welcome. I live in a boating area which doesn't have to worry about freeze-ups. Want a sailboat (55 ft+ ketch) so bad but damn, wife wants to eat regular.
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  • Posted by  $  johnrobert2 5 years, 10 months ago
    I know the gentleman. He was a guest in our home, also. He taught my first notes of classical music, taught me that right triumphs over wrong and he even taught me to laugh. Nowadays, there's another fellow who mostly tells me things I don't want to hear, like how the world is coming apart and the country I love is fast becoming something unrecognizable to my father's and grandfather's generation. Values like honest work, shame at taking charity when able to work, pride in self and family, quiet courtesy to those you deal with, and honor for your country are leaching away that spirit of independence we used to have. I miss the first one.
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  • Posted by lmarrott 5 years, 10 months ago
    We own a TV but no TV services. We have it connected to a power strip which gets turned on when we all sit at a movie together or for my wife and I after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I use it to play a video game.

    However our house is very limited on television time and I think it has been a good thing for us so far.
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  • Posted by Wonky 5 years, 10 months ago
    I learned that the Duke's were way cooler than the law... And as I grew a little older, Daisy became less a righteous rebel and more something that stirred me... Looking back, the rebel had more significance in my life, and still does (well, mostly).

    The stranger wasn't so bad, but he did get away with quite a bit.
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