The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


At our family reunion this weekend, where all 8 of the siblings were together with their respective kids and Grandkids, one of the apparent theme's became "What were our parents thinking?".

In a large family each segment of the troop was actually raised in a different world than the others.  I can testify that even within the time it took to rear our minor brood of three, my wife and I modified our parenting quite a bit.  But my parents had 16 years between the births of oldest brother Tom and littlest sister Barbara.  As the sixth born, I was definitely in the second half, but I wonder about Mary and Pat who were numbers four and five; do they constitute their own mid-section of the family?  Or if we separate them into parts one and two, doesn't that create an overly imaginary breach between their otherwise shared experiences?

Forever young!
Admittedly Tom Paul and George (1,2 and 3) created their own trilateral world to live and play and fight in, but Barb's teen aged life was so far removed from theirs (60's vs 80s; Chicago's south side vs Wisconsin's south side; Vibrant young parents vs a newly deceased Mom and mourning Dad), that she had to ask: "What did you guys do with yourselves at night?  Did you have a curfew?"

The answer?  Yes, our inquiring minds do want to know.  "What's a curfew?"  Mom and Dad were extremely (re)lax(ed) when it came to controlling/ monitoring their kids, and we kids never did get around to objecting.  On the south side of Chicago through the 50's and, in my case, the 60's; what could go wrong?  We were warned about strangers with candy, yes, but still allowed to disappear into distant unknown environs for many hours at a time.

My young friends were not to cross any of the streets of our block, so I had to go alone if I wanted to see the world.  Sometimes walking (8 block lengths is a mile BTW), or bike riding and sometimes on the bus or the El (elevated train).  One time Pat and I went all the five miles to Midway airport and back on three wheels.  Not a tricycle, but taking turns with one bike and a unicycle.

These old farts are now too old to do anything but!

The older guys have many stories to tell about bad influences, bad habits, bad guys and bad girls.  And as far as I know, Mom and Dad never had much of a clue about what was going on.  My own memories of being mugged, robbed, manhandled and punched, all before high school, never made it back home either.  I can't speak for other's motivations, but I thought I should protect my folks from worrying about me.  Not that they necessarily would have; after all, my apparent duty was to be 'growing wild'.


  1. Makes one wonder, "Does it really matter how I raise my kids?" You seem to have turned out all right and apparently raised yourself!
    I might have wasted a lot of time and tears!
    It was a different world in the 60's that's for sure.
    Nice to meet your sibs!

  2. First of all, I LOVE this: (re)lax(ed) :O)

    My folks spanned the ages with their kids, too. They had the first three in rapid succession, waited eight years before adding my second brother and then another eight for me. My oldest niece is only a year younger than I am (I took her to Show & Tell in kindergarten because NO ONE else my age had a niece).

    Like you, my hubby had a lot of freedom growing up. His mom found out some of what he'd been up to only after he was grown, married, and a father. I was raised in suburbia, back when it was more rural than city, so while there was a certain amount of wildness because my mom believed in nurturing our inner-selves, I was pretty much an adult in a kid's body. It took me lots of years, some wrinkles, and a crop of gray hair to learn to embrace my inner-hippie, happily growing wild.

  3. Great thoughts - yes we 'war babies' were surely very much on our own, yet monitored very carefully by many neighbors. I was never 'mugged or robbed' but did have a time of anxiety after being 'recruited' into a gang, which I continually refused and by some miracle, was 'let go.' Otherwise, a great place to grow up [Englewood] and grand people surrounding me. Including The Miller Parents. Plenty of fun, dances just about every week including live Swing Band on Sunday nights at St. Sabina's. And, we had time to be just kids. The corporate pressures to buy and buy and have more didn't take hold till later...lucky us.

  4. aww...a man handles things differently i their "protector" head of the family assimilated..and so many children; generation prospers; spiritual children as well



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