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Saturday, January 03, 2009

In Praise of Saturdays

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings for kids were almost as holy as Sunday morning for adults.

We watched cartoons. GREAT cartoons. Bugs Bunny. Road Runner and Wylie Coyote . Elmer Fudd. Tweety and Sylvester and Granny. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck.

And then later, if the weather was bad, we might be able to watch Dick Clark's American Bandstand and Soul Train.

In between, for Catholic kids of a certain age, there were CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes, which usually began around 9 in the morning - a full two hours after the cartoons had begun. (I think there's another name for them now, but I can't remember the initials . . . RIC. . .C. . .A???? I have no doubt someone reading this will know and fill us in.).

The neat thing was that our Jewish friends were headed to Hebrew School at the same time, so streets and homes in the neighborhood of my youth were Very Quiet for a few hours every Saturday morning.

When we got home, there were chores to do: Help polish the silver or the furniture. Help wax the floors. Help gather and sort the laundry and hang it up to dry.

The emphasis was on 'help'. Our mothers were like patrol leaders who had memorized lists of Things To Do. We would be sent on one chore and, after reporting its completion and passing inspection, we would be sent on yet another chore.

We were like little puppies, sent out to fetch and return. And mostly, we did so without complaint. Well, if we did, we were certain to get the back of our mother's hand to cuff the top of our head.

Mothers also had Eyes In The Back of Their Heads. My mother could see the spot I had missed polishing the claw leg under the dinning room table from her spot in front of the kitchen sink.

I always thought there should be another Great Sorrowful Mystery, but I never had the nerve to request its addition from Father or Sister. How was it, exactly, that Mother could see that I had not fluffed the pillows on the living room couch by looking out the kitchen window?

Oh, woe was me, poor banished child of Eve!

After our chores were done and we had eaten our lunch (Fried baloney and grilled cheese sandwiches which we dunked in tomato soup - YUM!) it was off to ride bikes or play ball or hang out with your friends for the rest of the day.

Saturday nights were Bath Time (remember taking a WEEKLY bath???). It was also reserved for polishing shoes and making sure our white gloves were washed and ready for church in the morning.

Then it was The Lawrence Welk Show followed by The Ed Sullivan Show. Then, off to say our prayers before bed where we slept deep and dreamed of living, one day, in The Land of Big Rock Candy Mountain. Burl Ives sang it so we knew it must exist.

As an adult, Saturdays are now for one syllable words, all under the heading of a one syllable word:


Clean. Wash.

Hang. Dry.

Dust. Mop.

Wax. Polish.


Pay Bills.

Move. Pack.

Drive. Gym.


Bank. Sale.

Store. Shop. Buy.

Cook. Bake.

Fry. Freeze.


This is not a complaint. There's actually something wonderful about all of these chores. There are so many places in my ministerial life that I start something and don't finish it, or, quite finish it, or, can't.

It requires enormous patience - not exactly my strongest suit.

So, doing chores, focusing on one-syllable words, has a certain satisfaction to it. I set out to do something, do it, and it gets done.

I can see it in the piles of folded laundry, in the way the furniture shines and the house smells good.

A satisfied smile crosses my face when I look into my freezer and see that it has soup for the coming week and the shelves are lined with pasta, canned vegetables, coffee and tea.

I can face another week of uncertainty - things done but mostly left undone or the effects of which I won't know for quite some time, if ever.

Come to think of it, it may just be that if you follow one-syllable words they may lead you to the path of satisfaction.




Sex (There, I said it.).



Pray (Well, if you let go of getting an answer
on anything but God's time.)




There are probably many more but those are just off the top of my head. Please feel free to add your own.

I think Saturdays are meant for one-syllable words. They are designed for the simple, meaningless tasks of life that help to give the rest of your life meaning. They take you down a peg and humble you to celebrate the things that make you human.

And, in a strange way, they serve to remind you that you are, after all, a 'human being', not a 'human doing'.

Which is why, I suppose, Sundays follow Saturdays.

I just think that my Saturdays could be enhanced by an hour or so of good old fashioned cartoons.

I no longer need Burl Ive's Big Rock Candy Mountain, but you know, a fried baloney and grilled cheese sandwich with a hot mug of tomato soup sure sounds good, doesn't it?


PseudoPiskie said...

I like to crumble potato chips in the tomato soup like Mom did too. But fried baloney and grilled cheese were two separate sandwiches. And we often had fried peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, sometimes the fried baloney was a separate sandwich from the grilled cheese. But, not on Saturdays. Fried PB and banana was a special treat. Never had it with pickle. Not knocking it. Just never had it. It will have to go on my 'Bucket List' I suppose.

Oh, and always, always, always on Wonder Bread - "Helps build strong bodies 12 ways."

10 years off of Purgatory for those who can remember THAT!

PseudoPiskie said...

We knew about Wonder Bread but we ate Schwebels which was local.


it's margaret said...

We thought about grilled cheese sandwhiches and tomato soup today --but had no cheese in the house, so we had hot tuna patties on whole wheat instead --very satisfying!

Yes--I like the idea of one-word Saturdays. Very. Good.

wow --my word verification is "verses" --is that a hint?

Kirkepiscatoid said...

BLT, lettuce, tomato, no mayo, but a little butter instead. THAT is my Sat. a.m. bucket list sandwich!

But the chore that ruined me was the one country kids have--constantly worshipping the Wood Stove God. We heated with a wood stove to save on heating costs in the winter.

In the spring, we had to go out and clear brush to be able to drive into the woods better.

In the summer, we had to go out and cut the wood, bring it home and stack it.

In the fall, we had to split and chop the bigger pieces.

In the winter, feeding the wood stove was like feeding the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors". God help you if you left the house too long, or you didn't bank the fire right that night and woke up to a cold house.

That is why, to this day, as much as I love a good cracklin' fire outdoors, I refuse to have a fireplace or a wood stove!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

When we lived in Maine, we had three stoves - one in the kitchen, one in the living room, and one in the basement. We went through seven cord of wood a winter.

"Wood warms you twice," as they say in Maine.

Our kids still hold it against our youngest - who was 18 months old at the time - that she never had to follow the "bring in two pieces of wood whenever you walk in the house" rule.

Ah, the things that fire the memory tend to warm the soul.

Hey, I think I just made that up!

Anonymous said...

I do remember the fried baloney sandwiches and the grilled cheese .... and the Wonder Bread and its slogan. Thanks for my 10 years off of Purgatory!

Those were the good old days! At least I think I am supposed to say that on an occasion such as this.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, I am officially amazed at how may people grew up on friend baloney sandwiches - with our without the grilled cheese.

We probably didn't wear helmets when we rode our bicycles and didn't have seat belts to wear in the car.

How is it that we are alive to talk about it today?

Here's the real question: When was the last time you had a fried baloney sandwich?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Someone just wrote me of another great one syllable word for Saturdays:


Here's another: PLAY.

JCF said...

Sex (There, I said it.).

We're queer, Lisbet, so of course we think of nothing else! {snort}

[My mom made grilled baloney sandwiches, in the oven. California Health Nuts, we were! ;-)]

suzanne said...

On Saturday morning we could also see Sally Starr, and Chief Halftown, Buffalo Bob, and Clarabella the Clown, but then that was the Philadelphia area.

After that the command was given by Mom; "Get your chores done"


Jim said...

Growing up at the same time in the Midwest, I have never had a fried baloney sandwich. Wonder Baking has a large operation nearby and a treasured memory was the school tour, complete with our own little mini loaves.

I dunno if the absence of fried baloney sandwiches is Midwestern or ethnic. Can I maybe get 5 years off? I remember the building strong bodies line, in fact I once believed it, until I learned to make bread, and then to make it without wheat. (Sue-z is celiac)


gerry said...

We had the fried baloney and grilled cheese with a slice of tomato as a concession to the veggie brigade. And of course only tomato soup in a mug.

Wonder bread had not made it into NE PA back in the '50s and '60s, but local bakeries provided comparables. We only got Wonder bread when visting cousins in South Jersey or Philly.

Never came across peanut butter and pickle, and won't let it in my bucket. Peanut butter and banana, yes, pb and lettuce, yes; ditto chopped celery; but never a pickle.

My 15 yo daughter is currently enamored of toasted peanut butter and vegan sausage sandwiches compliments of indie band, Death Cab For Cutie's guitarist Chris Walla.

A close second is a grilled tomato/mozzarella/basil pesto caprese on really good italian bread.

Eleanor also considers a steaming mug of tomato soup the only proper thing to drink with her Saturday sandwich.

Fran said...

Grilled cheese please.

And it was "Religious Instruction" in my day and then became CCD which is now called Faith Formation and meets so infrequently it blows my mind.

Back then we left school at about 2 on Wednesdays, all the Catholics - about 90% of the school and each went off to our parishes, Irish, Italian and so forth. We also met on Sundays.

So Saturdays for me were about cartoons, helping mom and grilled cheese sandwiches!