Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Make Love, Not War

Image result for flower child

The child pictured here is not my mom, as my mom doesn't allow pictures of her to be posted on my blog. it might just as well have been my mom. I'm told that she was one of the original flower children. She used to write "Make Love, Not War" and draw peace signs with chalk on the sidewalks outside her family's home when she was two. (She was precocious to the extent that she made me look like a late-bloomer by comparison.)  Her political expressions didn't go over terribly well, as her father was an air force pilot, and her family lived in base-owned housing at the time. 

The local Catholic school that educated her siblings allowed her to enroll in kindergarten a year early because their enrollment in kindergarten was low that year. Most of the year was uneventful for her, as she did her work quietly and didn't bother others. 

My aunt said there was a problem once because my mom wrote once "Free Love" on the top of her spelling test. The nun who taught her class insisted that when she got home, she must ask her mother what was the meaning of the term "Free Love," then come back and report it to the class the next day. Her mother told her that "Free Love" meant living with a person of the opposite sex when the two were not married. i'm not sure exactly what the nun/teacher hoped to accomplish by this, but by the end of the day, every kid in the class who could write was writing "Free Love" on his or her paper, and they all knew what it meant, or at least knew the G-rated definition of the term.. They apparently told their parents that Erin had taught it to them. 

Several of the parents called my grandmother to complain about her daughter providing sex education to their offspring. (My mom did not yet have a clue as to the mechanics of sex.) My grandma pretty much passed the buck and blamed the nun/teacher. She told the other parents her daughter had only written the slogan on her own paper, but that the nun had called attention to it and made a huge deal out of it, requiring that my mom recite the definition of "Free Love" in front of the class.

Still, my grandmother had better things to do than to field phone calls from irate parents of my mom's classmates, so she taught my mom a few other slogans to write. My mom learned "Flower Power," ''Groovy,' "Sock It To Me," 'Smile! God Loves You," "Have a Nice Day," "Right On," "Stamp Out Reality," "Sock It To Me," and others. One mother of a classmate eventually called to complain about my mom teaching her kid to say, "Look it up in your Funk & Wagnall." (The kid was too dumb to write that or anything else, including his own name.) My grandma was at an officers' wives' club meeting that night, and my grandfather had to take the call. He was dumbfounded, but eventually got a word in edgewise in order to tell the woman that "Funk and Wagnall" was a publisher of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials. The rather dim bulb thought the term was some sort of expletive. 

Children's vocabularies can be modified, but stupidity is often irreparable.

I don't own this video. I sincerely hope the rightful owner is not offended by my use of it. i added this video after posting because I found it after the fact, but it perfectly depicts the scene of which my mother would have loved to have been a part had she not been less than a year old during the summer of love. she would have enjoyed participating even as a child, but she was born to an air force officer. Alas, some things are not meant to be.

I don't own this video. I included it because it features my mom's favorite song from when she was little. I hope the owner does not object to my use of the video.


  1. Replies
    1. My mom acquired a decent part of her vocabulary from watching "Rowan & Martin's Laugh In" and "The Smothers Brothers."

  2. Laugh In and the Smothers Brothers were staples of my teen years. I turned 16 during the Summer of Love and was just a bit too young to be able to go to 'Frisco and participate in the festivities. We were tired of war and racism and tried to be the opposite of what "they" were. The music was idealistically wonderful and I still probably know the words to all those songs. I would like your grandmother and your mother, too, and am glad they share these stories with you.

    1. I didn't know my grandma as she died before I was born, but my aunts and uncles and my mom have shared so many stories about her that it's as though I know her. I'm sure she would have been one of my favorite people in the world had she been around long enough to be in my life. Her husband, my grandpa, was apparently awesome as well, and has been described as the most laid-back air force officer in history. He retired and went to work flying for private airlines.