2006.06.14 Cultural revolution coming right up?

Written by David Green.


Every now and then I get a glimpse of how our family’s daily living habits influence my children’s interactions with the world. You know how it is—your family does things a certain way and you grow up thinking that’s the norm. But really, you belong to a bizarre little enclave with a culture all its own and you just aren’t aware—until you hit the real world. OK, maybe it’s just my poor children who belong to such a family.

As we were cruising along I-75 on yet another trip south returning my daughter Rozee to Berea College in Kentucky, the driver in the car ahead of us threw a cigarette butt out of his window.

“I don’t understand why people do that,” I said. “It could start a fire.”

“Well, what else are they going to do with it?” asked Rozee.

“Put it out in their ashtray,” I responded.

She looked at me quizzically.

I gestured toward the ashtray on the dashboard.

“I thought that was a money holder,” she said.

Since neither my husband nor I have ever smoked, we’ve never needed to use the ashtray for its original purpose. We keep our spare change in it, and in her 20 years of life, Rozee hasn’t ever seen it used for anything else.

I was amused enough to make note of the ashtray-money holder exchange and wondered about other of our confusing confounding daily living habits that might be off the beaten path. I began to worry that we might have really warped our children in unknown ways.

My mind immediately fixed on the freezer of our fridge and the several bags of uncompostable foods we stash there until garbage day. I hate the smell of rotting food, so I collect the daily odd bits of orange and banana peels, moldy bread, scraps of uneaten cooked food, and the like, in used bread bags and store it in the freezer so it doesn’t ferment and putrefy in the garbage can.

“You all know it’s not normal to put garbage in the freezer, don’t you?” I directed my question to Maddie, sitting in the back seat, as well.

“Yeah,” said Rozee. “But composting and recycling...I thought everybody did that.”

She was surprised to learn that not everybody participates in those activities.

I recall that same sort of incredulity when I left New York City for college at Michigan State and discovered that not everybody cursed—and that some were even very offended by my “colorful” language. The usual stream of swearwords was business as usual for me and it took awhile to realize that my fellow college students weren’t speaking my language.

A few days after we returned home, Maddie and I were watching Ebert and Roeper as they showed a clip of the new movie, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

“What’s that?” Maddie asked in a “come-again?” tone of voice.

“It’s Prairie Home Companion,” I told her. “They’re making a movie of the radio show.”

She had a perplexed, almost bemused look on her face.

“I didn’t know people actually knew about it,” she said.

And by “people” she means people who would think the show is worthy of making into a movie. People like Robert Altman and Meryl Streep and Lindsay Lohan. And the common people across America who would actually pay money to see the movie of the radio show that’s been background noise most every weekend of her life. I guess she figured if her parents listen to the show there’s no way the rest of the world would know about it.

I doubt that all our weird habits and way of life will ever become mainstream, (most parents aren’t going to fill Easter baskets with prunes stuffed with almonds, for example), but I think the world should be poised for a ripple effect.

I was talking with Rozee last night about the ashtray/money holder incident. She said none of her friends has ever smoked and she’s never been in a car with a smoker who used the ashtray for its intended purpose.

“I asked Taylor [her boyfriend] if he knew what the ashtray was for because he had money in it,” she said.

“He said, ‘It’s in there because you told me to put it in there.’”

Hmm, imagine if I had had that kind of impact on my college friends.

– June 14, 2006
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016