More Ramblings of a (Catholic) SoCal mind.

Being raised as a strict Catholic in Venice, California, had both its good and bad points. The Good were limited to drinking the alter wine (and replacing it with water :-)) as a thirteen year old alter boy. I’m sure there were more, but remembering them can be difficult when one has senior moments (or, hell, maybe there really aren’t any more).

The Bad, on the other hand, were many. For instance, my sex education consisted of mom finding my nudie mag, telling my dad, and my dad whipping my butt and telling me to never read them again. And, of course, I followed that to a “T” . . . wink!

There was also the time I had to light our in-floor gas heaters’ pilot light, and having it blow up in my face. I think I yelled, “Geeezzzzz”, but my parents heard, “Jesus.” Oops: bad boy. Instead of asking me if I was alright, (my eyebrows were singed and eyelashes gone) I got yelled at for using the Lords name in vain. A much worse crime than getting burnt, donchaknow. Being the good Catholic boy I was, I muttered curses at the pilot light under my breath.

Then there was the time the Archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles said mass at our humble church, and I was an alter boy during said mass. During his sermon, he asked both Buddy, my bff, and myself questions about the Catholic faith. One such question was: Can you use after shave to baptize someone? Not knowing the content of after shave, as I didn’t shave yet, I said “Yes.” He proceeded to chastise me for answering wrong, as evidently after shave contains no water, and water containing liquids are the only thing one can use to baptize someone. I started to say, “So, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son and the Aqua Vulva wont work?”, but instead held my breath and took it like a good Catholic alter boy. To this day I have an unnatural fear someone will try to baptize me using after shave, and I was baptized decades ago.

More ramblings to follow at later dates, times and/or places.


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27 responses to “More Ramblings of a (Catholic) SoCal mind.

  1. prairiepond

    OK FINE, Jammer. Now I have to add Aqua Vulva to my list of phobias.

    And isnt it “velva”? hehehheh. HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

    Good one. My Dad used to wear that.

    There’s nothing like an Aqua Velva man, isnt that how the commercial goes?

    Guys my age wore Hi Karate! WTF? I still cant stand that smell. Or Brut, which is what my ex husband wore. Jesus WEPT!

  2. prairiepond

    The good catholic mother of one of my high school friends was the ER nurse at our local hospital. She confessed at home one night that she secretly baptized all the babies in the ER with spit, just in case they died suddenly. She didnt ever tell anyone, but she thought the parents wouldnt mind.

    Can you imagine? I know she thought she was doing good, but ewwwwwww. And not just for the spit!

  3. prairiepond

    Heh. I looked it up. It’s “there’s something about an Aqua Velva man”. Hehehehh. I remember the woman in that commercial.

    go figger.

  4. prairiepond

    And Jammer, I like to hear about your growing up days. Keep posting them.

  5. fnord

    We could all tell about our growing up days and see how alike or different they were. I know we grew up in different parts of the world, in urban and rural areas, so it would be interesting to see if the biggest differences were due to locality or something else.

    I’m enjoying your growing up years too, jammer5. Takes me back (a loooong ways).

    • jammer5

      “We could all tell about our growing up days and see how alike or different they were.”


  6. fnord

    My life sounds so boring when it follows someone’s adventures. It wasn’t boring! It was work, but I didn’t know that! It was the way things were and I never questioned it. I was happy! I always had people around me, and that’s something I still today need.

    I don’t have a lot of memories of my parents together as they divorced when I was a little girl. I had both of them — Mom always, Daddy on frequent phone calls and visits, as he lived in Missouri with his new family.

    The earliest memories are of Mom, my two younger sisters and I making our way together. We did good together! We lived in a one room apartment that had been the garage of a fairly nice-sized house. One end was kitchen, in the middle was the dining table, the other end was combo living room / bedroom. The two couches made beds and we three girls took turns sleeping with Mom. A closet sized bathroom was big enough for two IF one person was in the shower.

    When I was 10 years old My Mom and her three daughters married a man who had three daughters. We six girls were stair step ages of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5. Little over a year later our only brother was born!

    We always had enough people for any board game, card game… We always had a big puzzle going and everyone put a piece in place as they passed by or paused to work on it awhile. We had books and were all readers. Television wasn’t on much and “Dad” controlled where the dial went — Friday Night fights, Saturday night it was the Lawrence Welk Show. Those selections were probably why we all loved to read! 😉 We traveled in books, we experienced other ways of life, other places. In our 1949 Ford (I still have pictures of that car!) we were like sardines so we just didn’t go places, couldn’t. Another thing we didn’t think about — it just was.

    My Mom always worked — a necessity when she was a single Mom and I think remained so when our family grew to NINE. I don’t know, as money wasn’t talked about. We didn’t have any, but we didn’t know that. It wasn’t something talked about, and nothing we kids thought about.

    Everyone pitched in to handle the responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, laundry, yard work, gardening (we always grew lots of our food and canned it at season end). We lived in a 900 sq. ft. home with three bedrooms and one bath. The folks had one bedroom, the four oldest girls shared another with two sets of bunkbeds, the two youngest girls and only brother shared the third.

    By the time we six girls were in our teens we had a monopoly on the babysitting needs of our community. People called our house since it was pretty much one-call shopping.

    I was the oldest and in many ways I’ve always been a Mom (of sorts). Even today, my sisters and brother run ‘things’ past me.

  7. prairiepond

    Linda, I love hearing about all that. And 900sf is about the size of my house. I dont know where I’d squeeze in two more bedrooms here.

    Dont forget to tell the “lion” story too!

  8. prairiepond

    Oops, sorry. Slip o’ the tongue, fnord.

  9. fnord

    The lion story. 😉

    Our young brother soon found out the way to irritate all the big sisters at once was hole up in the only bathroom. Seriously, what in the entire world could a three or four year old boy, who hated baths, do in there anyway!?

    He was, once again, in the bathroom with the door locked and two, three, four sisters waiting outside for a much-deserved turn. After not too long (we had no patience for this young whipper snapper) one of the girls yells, “Johnny, come on. There’s a line out here!”

    The door opened immediately (and all clothes were in place just to prove he was in there only for the irritant factor!), and he rushed out with great excitement, asking, “Where’s the lion?”

  10. prairiepond


    I love that story! It still makes me laugh.

  11. prairiepond

    I bet your brother is about my age?

  12. fnord

    He was born in July of 1958, so celebrated the BIG FIVE O last summer. The sisters will be 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 and 62 this year. 😉

  13. prairiepond

    Let’s see. About my childhood….

    It was perfect 🙂 I followed my Dad everywhere, everyday. I wanted to be just like him. It drove my mother crazy. He used to take me with him twice a day to count the cows, and I spent all day in the shop with him whenever possible. I had to turn away and cover my eyes when he was welding. I rode my skateboard on the concrete floor. He gave me lots of scrap lumber to nail together… endlessly…

    He was almost 40 when they got me, so he was no spring chicken when I got old enough to go to school. And school was where I became obsessed with sports. Every night, after a long hard day of farming, he would play with me for an hour or two either before or after dinner, which we called supper.

    He played whatever was in season. Softball, football, basketball, etc. When I got a little older, we’d ride horses every night after supper and use them to count the cows. In the spring, he took me fishing every night after supper, and most of the time, my Mom would go along too. We went on Downer Creek, just about a mile or two from the house. This is only remarkable because he hated to fish. He only did it for me.

    I imagine it was quite a task to keep me entertained and stopping me from asking “why” 24/7. With no siblings or kids to play with in a three or four mile radius, I was a constant chore for my folks.

    The only relief they got was from my long suffering dog, Sport. Mom said she always knew where I was, because she could see the dog. If I was up in the treehouse, the dog was underneath. If I was playing in the barn, the dog was outside the barn door. If I was in the shop, Sport was lying outside. If Sport was resting on the the steps of the house, she knew I was gone, hopefully with Dad. But I did have a habit of striking out on my own 🙂 Sport, however usually went along with me on my solo ventures, so if he was at the house, Dad and I were in the truck. I rode my bike a lot too!

    When Dad had to do field work, I was forlorn. I moped for the four or five days it took him to do it. And he still played with me when he got home, even after 12 hours on the cab-less tractor.

    I miss my Dad everyday. And my Mom too, even though she and I didnt make our peace until a couple of years before she died. I think she was always mad that I was “Dad’s” and not “her’s”.

    And my days at the one room country school house were wonderful. I loved school until I was ten, and they closed up all the rural schools and bussed us to town school. My life as I knew it ended then. I had to wear dresses and play dumbassed girl games on the playground, when I really wanted to be playing basketball and softball.

    At the country school, there were only 17 of us combined in all 8 grades. We always all played together at recess, the big kids and the little kids alike. We had to in order to get any kind of game going. The big boys would get really close to home plate and pitch slowly to the little kids so we learned to hit. And they taught me how to catch a ball and shoot a basket.

    Good times.

    Can we just turn the clock back?

  14. fnord

    You just did! And in a way that let us be there with you.

    Know what? I don’t see that you’ve changed much.

  15. prairiepond

    Thanks, fnord. It took me a long time to shed the city ways and get back to the real me.

  16. prairiepond

    Speaking of country schools, it wasnt unusual for our kids to skip a grade when they went to town school.

    In the country, we were all in one room, all grades. The teacher would take one class, usually two or three or four kids at the most, up to the front of the room and work with them and do their lessons. Then they’d go back and work at their desks and another class would go up.

    So when we were at our desks and if we had finished our own work, we could sit and listen to the big kids talk history, math, science, etc. So by the time I got to fifth grade, I’d listened to fifth grade history five times. I think that’s why we always got bumped up in town school.

    And we got lots of individual attention too. If we needed help and the teacher was busy, one of the bigger kids, usually the older girls, would come help us. So we were never without help. And when we got older, we’d help the little kids. So not only did we learn ahead, we reviewed frequently too!

    And there was no nonsense or misbehaving. The room was so small, and so many eyes watching us, that we couldnt get away with a damn thing.

    On really pretty days, which we didnt have too often without 50 mph wind, the teach would just let us play softball all afternoon. Sometimes we’d play other country schools. We always won, and in fact, someone mentioned that to me the other day, that we always beat them.

    hehehh. HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

    “grampa, tell me ’bout the good ol’ days”.

  17. prairiepond

    The only downside to my youth was all the time I had to spend in church, in a DRESS!!!!!!!!!

    Well, that and practicing the piano. I loved the guitar and my trumpet, but the piano? Not so much.

    It’s still in my living room though. I cant seem to give it up, and I cant seem to play it again.

    Too much time bloggin’ 🙂

  18. prairiepond

    Sorry I monopolized the conversation here. I better quit and go feed all the critters. And me!

  19. My childhood; hmm, let me try to be as factual as possible.

    As the first grandchild on both my Dad’s and my Mother’s side of the family, I was spoiled rotten. This seemed to continue even though eventually I had five siblings, and my mother’s brother had two children.

    One of my enduring memories was spending time with my maternal grandmother. She had (what I now know) terminal cancer, diagnosed when I was about three. Obviously, at that point, she was not in any condition to do active things with a youngster; so, I’d sit on the couch with her and read. Yes, read; I was reading in a competent sense by age four, and recall reading to her until her death shortly after my fifth birthday. This created a problem when I started school, but I’ll skip that.

    My father hated working for anyone, and was always starting a business, which would eventually fail, and we would then move to another town where he would try again. By age six, he had run out of opportunities (think drought in 1954-1955) and we became the “caretakers” of the remaining property constituting the homestead of my maternal grandmother’s family just outside Whitewater. We “survived” on the kindness of my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandparents; he paid for our food and utilities, they paid for other necessities. My father did nothing for several years (employment related), and my mother was busy with a house full of children. During the years at Whitewater, the final three siblings were born.

    I was only happy at school; not because of my classmates, most of whom did not like me, but because of the escape school gave me from our situation. It is not an overstatement that I was the most disliked person in my class, a fate that also befell my younger siblings. Part of my particular case was that I was the “brightest” in the class; a bigger part for all of us was the fact that our family wasn’t native to that town, and as our situation was well known to everyone (one year, we had no school supplies; the “good people” banded together to get us books, etc., but there was always a resentment about that, not only on their side but ours) we were treated with contempt by others, especially those in our respective grades.

    My dad was not interested in athletics; my mother, who was a “tom boy” in her younger days, did what she could to help me develop my abilities in sports, limited as they were, especially once I started participating in little league baseball.

    Eventually, the “home place” was sold, and my father obtained a franchise for a H&R Block office in Wellington; so, off we went to Wellington. Entering the eighth grade there, I was in the best part of my pre-adult life. No one really knew us, but no one really cared about our situation. Unfortunately, my father’s lack of business acumen followed, and soon we were in a similar position as we had been as a family, until my mother “went to work”. During this period, I had my first introduction to being on welfare, my maternal grandfather essentially having given up on supporting us. Also, during this period, my father served time for passing NSF checks. Unlike what would have happened in Whitewater, the folks in Wellington reserved their approbation for him, and didn’t take it out on the rest of us.

    When I was sixteen, I went to work for Dillons, which seemed (along with my mother’s job) to totally eliminate my father’s desire to ever work again. My small weekly paycheck went to help support the family. Trying to work, play basketball, and go to school eventually resulted (in my junior year) in my contracting one of the “hardest” cases of infectious mononucleosis seen by the doctors in the community. During that period (obviously my income had gone away) we got to enjoy periods without utilities. Once I recovered, it was back to work (basketball now being in the past), and doing my best in school so I would have a chance to go to college on a scholarship.

    While in Whitewater and Wellington, we never had a telephone. Often, we did not have a working television (perhaps a blessing). I “lived” in the Wellington library when it was open and I was not in school or working, much to the displeasure of my father, who thought I should be doing something more constructive (read: working at yet another job to earn more money for him to spend). My paternal grandfather died after my sophomore year in high school, and I spent that summer with my paternal grandmother to “take care of her”, during which time we became very close. Looking back (this was before I was working), I now understand my father’s enthusiastic encouragement of this arrangement; there was one less mouth to feed out of my mother’s income.

    Anyway, when I graduated from high school, I went off to KU, and except for a few visits, never went home again. Part of that was the fact I was working at the mortuary, and couldn’t get off any extended periods; part of it was that I just didn’t want to go home. When my father died of liver cancer (I was then in the USAF, a college graduate caught up by the end of the Vietnam era draft), I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he wouldn’t be badgering me for money ever again.

    Harsh? Yes, but that’s how it was. I’ve since done my best to take care of my mother (still going at age 81, works part-time for Dillons in McPherson, her home town), and remain close to four of my five siblings.

  20. fnord

    I’m glad you had your grandparents!

    Who’d have thunked it? You worked hard to where you got, imagine if someone with advantages had worked that hard, huh? Of course, the part that doesn’t surprise me one bit is the high intelligence and the ability to accept the responsibility to get there.

    (Tongue in cheek) Well, no wonder you’re a damned Republican! You are a self-starter, a hard worker, an achiever who understands working for what you get. We know there aren’t any Democrats like that! 😉

  21. prairiepond

    Wow, six. I had no idea. I didnt think it was even possible for you to rise in esteem with me, but that post did it! I already held you in the highest regard, and now… even more so.

    You really should go read that Balmer family history. Maybe you even knew some of that extended family. I saw some common elements of the good kind.

    Makes me feel guilty for having it so easy 🙂 All of my problem have been caused by me, not someone else!

  22. jammer5

    Hot dang, people. Fnord, you were right. These are some great stories about the people here. I love it. I’ll probably start a thread tomorrow about my surfin’ days, dudes. Right after I get to the dentist to get this frikin dry socket taken care of. Arggggggg!!!

  23. prairiepond

    A dry socket? Pobracito. Take lots of grain alcohol and call us in the morning!

  24. jammer5

    I had to look that up. And me having lived in a border town for twenty years.

    a poor little bastard in Spanish
    and chicho if anything happens to the cocaine or the money e pobrecito frank’s gonna stick your heads up your a$$es faster than a rabbit gets fu….