I recently received a crossword puzzle magazine in the mail. I love doing puzzles and I quickly jumped into this publication with relish. It wasn’t long until I found myself thinking about the many times lately when I’ve said something humorous in the presence of my grandchildren and been met by blank stares. Come to think of it, it’s not just my grandchildren who have no idea what I’m talking about; and it’s not just my attempts at humor. Most people twenty or so years younger than me have no knowledge of the trivia of my life.
For example, last week I mentioned that I once had a friend who was very much like Joe Btfsplk. Recognizing that I probably mispronounced Joe’s last name, I quickly added, “He was the little guy who always had the storm cloud over his head.”
Blank stares from all but one or two people in my presence. I had to explain further, “He was one of the characters in Li’l Abner… the Al Capp comic strip.” At that point, I realized that, even though we had just gone through an important election, mentioning Senator Phogbound’s name would get me nowhere.
Li’l Abner left the daily newspapers in 1977. I have to remind myself that most people younger than thirty-five have never seen anything to do with Al Capp’s Dogpatch.
Does anyone anywhere still celebrate Sadie Hawkins Day?
So what does Pansy Yokum have to do with a crossword puzzle magazine? Nothing more than the name of Desi’s daughter, Mindy’s TV roommate, Philo of whodunits, Warbucks’ ward, a 1984 dictator, J.R.’s mom, the actress who played Miss Kitty, a Princess Phone feature, the patriarch of the McCoy family, Imogene’s partner, TV panelist Francis, Burr’s TV crime fighter, DDE’s opponent, Robert of “I Spy”, Mountie Do-Right, Slaughter or Cabell, Bucky Beaver’s brand, Sapphire and Lightning’s radio and TV show, Vaudeville super-star Al, Kuklapolitans, and Will Rogers’ prop. And the list goes on.
Every puzzle in that magazine had at least one entry that would be extremely difficult for a young solver. I’ve often run into puzzles that throw in extremely obscure words or foreign phrases, but I’ve never seen so much absolute trivia.
At the same time, I’m loving that magazine because it’s bringing back so many memories.
It’s been years since I’ve given any thought to Captain Video and the Video Ranger, Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, Clarabell, Princess Summerfallwinterspring, Phynias T. Bluster, Flub-a-dub, Bobby Orr, Otto Graham, Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe, Bruce Jenner, Ara Parseghian, Lech Walesa, Mario Lanza, Emma Peel of the Avengers, Maxwell Smart, Hedda Hopper, Erma Bombeck, DeSotos, Lonesome George, Uncle Miltie, Mamie’s predecessor, Walt Frazier, James Arness, Chester (Dennis Weaver), and Xavier Cugat’s wives.
Anyone who has recognized all the people and events I’ve mentioned so far is either somewhere around my age, or a great fan of meaningless information. Perhaps this will generate some comments and we can all remind each other of many other trivial items. In the meantime, I’m going to fill my jug with some Kickapoo joy juice and work another puzzle.
By the way, let’s all take the time to thank our fellow citizens who have served, or are currently serving, to protect our rights as Americans. Today may be a bit special – Veterans Day – but we shouldn’t wait to say “Thanks” only once a year. We thank them every day!