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Big Daddy giving them the 411

POSTED: May 6, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Depending on when you were born, you’ve likely heard parents, grandparents or other relatives talk about the challenges of their era.

  

The old saw about walking uphill in the snow to go to school is one that often comes to mind. But there are other old stories about things like plowing with a mule, picking cotton and making clothes out of flour and feed sacks.

  

I was thinking about my grandchildren. They don’t exist yet and, quite frankly, I hope I have a little time before their arrival. But when they come, I think there are some leftover things in pop culture that will require explaining.

  

If we are driving down the road, cruising to the oldies, and the Beach Boys come on singing their classic “GTO,” I will have to explain to the grandkids that a GTO was a hot car when Big Daddy was a little boy.

  

By the way, I’m announcing here and now that my chosen future grandfather moniker is Big Daddy.

  

I will tell them that it was made by Pontiac, a brand of car that will soon no longer exist. I never owned a Pontiac, but it was not for lack of wanting. In Social Circle, Rip Malcom had the Pontiac of Pontiacs. It was a version called “The Judge.”

  

According to numerous sources, it was named for a skit on the NBC comedy show “Laugh-In” involving Sammy Davis Jr. called “Here comes the Judge.”

  

It was quite a show car with a big engine and big wheels and made quite a statement.

  

But it’s not just bygone cars that will require explaining.

  

If Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Nat “King” Cole is singing the classic “I’m going to sit right down and right myself a letter,” it will require explanations on a number of fronts.

  

By the time little children are calling me Big Daddy, letters may have gone the way of the nickel Coke.

  

“Why wouldn’t he send an e-mail, Big Daddy,” the little fella would ask. I would then launch into a story of how we once used pen and paper to communicate.

  

If that were followed by The Marvelettes singing “Mr. Postman,” the explanation would continue by telling why one would wait for the postman. Depending how long it is before the grandchildren come, I might also have to explain what a postman was.

  

Things involving the telephone will require significant explanation. Among them, Jim Croce’s “Operator.” First, who was this person who was helping him make the call and why could she keep the dime.

  

“Sylvia’s Mother,” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. There is a line about the operator asking for 40 cents more for the next three minutes kids won’t get that.

  

There is an old gospel song about asking an operator to get Jesus on the line.

  

There are two things in that one that will baffle the young, “Operator” and “Information.” In rap speak, you would have to give them “the 4-1-1” on that.

  

With that and much more to convey, I hope it’s a while before any grandkids make their debut. Big Daddy has got a lot of thinking to do between now and then.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisb@forsythnews.com.

 

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