OUR HOUSE

 

Raising four sons and reflecting on my youth, offers a stark contrast between our shared experiences. In some ways it is remarkably similar; two parent home, go to school, dinners as a family, juggling the demands of a multi-person household.

 

GENERATIONAL DIVIDES

 

In other ways the generational divide is a chasm greater than Prince Harry’s with the Royal Family. After much contemplation (and iced tea) what follows are my top ten generational divides.

 

  1. When we had friends over, we would put a favorite album on the turntable and then everyone vied for who could pick the next vinyl. Today, they put on an episode of The Office or Arrested Development and laugh like they’ve never seen it before.
  2. In grammar school we learned how to write cursive, compose formal letters, and address an envelope. Today, these well-honed skills are going the way of the VCR, wine coolers, and public tolerance.
  3. If a movie were airing on TV, we knew it would probably be another two to three years before we would have the opportunity to watch it again. Today, well, virtually everything is available for viewing at any time of the day or night. Even stuff you don’t want to see, like Adam Sandler films!
  4. Typing was a class we took in high school. Granted, it was taught by the JV football coach who utilized the two-finger-hunt-and-peck method himself, but it was a required class. Today a three-year-old is master of the TV remote and tablet before they are even potty-trained.
  5. Our superheroes flew off the comic book page or were relegated to Saturday morning cartoons. Today, thanks to special effects wizardry, their prodigious skills are illuminated on the big screen with remarkable frequency.
  6. Quisp, Quake, Apple Jacks, Fruity Pebbles, Boo-Berry, Crunchy Nuggets, Corn Snaps, Honey Snaps, Kaboom… this was breakfast! Today, your ten-year-old wants to become a vegan after viewing a documentary about the beef industry in school.
  7. Dinners were overshadowed by Walter Cronkite reporting, with his usual gravitas, the daily count of fallen military in Viet Nam. Today, dinner is just a brief interlude between League of Legends games.
  8. If you were going to be late getting home and there were no payphones close by, there was going to be hell to pay when you walked in the door. Today, they can just ignore your texts and phone calls and allege there was no service in the area. “But you were downtown?”
  9. Commercials were a part of our everyday life. It was the price we paid for music on the radio and our favorite television programs. Today, bootlegging allows you to listen and watch unencumbered by those annoying interruptions.
  10. When we were getting married, our parents encouraged us to select a fine china pattern and silver to go with it. If you bring this up today, they have difficulty even grasping the concept of why you would need such frivolous utensils. “The sporks that come with the takeout work just fine for us.”

 HAVE A SEAT!

 

They have resided in various locales over the past half century, never traveling much further than San Francisco and Pacifica. From certain angles they look every bit of their fifty plus years and then when the light hits them just right, they could be on display in a fine furniture store.

 

No one quite seems to understand why they are taking up space in this less than spacious home. They don’t go with the décor, if you could call it that. Early eclectic? Post college? But the nostalgia ingrained in the fine leather, and the stitching becoming frayed around the edges from so much usage, tell the story of two wonderful men. That is why it is inconceivable to think of parting with the ol’ leather chairs.

 

GREEN CHAIR

 

These are the men who epitomized “the Greatest Generation”. Both after having served in World War II  came home from the conflict, resumed their careers, married their true loves, and became the unlikeliest of friends. The first, the green leather chair, was a Midwesterner through and through. If he had seconds of potatoes at dinner, he also had to take a helping of meat and vegetables so it would all “balance”. He was a barber by trade, barber pole and all, taking over his father’s shop and even living upstairs with his bride for a time.

 

BURGUNDY CHAIR

 

The other, the burgundy chair, was from upstate New York, Rochester to be exact, who didn’t marry until ’52 because he was caring for his ailing mother who was suffering from dementia. A flight surgeon in the Navy, he came home to San Francisco to resume his Radiology practice, unaware that it was there he would meet the new hire and love of his life.

 

The green and burgundy chair met because their wives were sisters and, rather than focus on their different paths, they bonded over common interests. The ever-burgeoning families they had married into and their love of sports, attending countless Niner and Warrior games together. When the teams were on the road, they would sit in their respective leather chairs and enjoy the wins and struggle through the losses. On occasion the burgundy chair’s curly haired son could join them and enjoy their camaraderie as well as the game.

 

Their friendship was all too brief, as the green chair passed from lung cancer in the Fall of ’74. The burgundy chair only lasted three more years before succumbing to a massive heart attack. So, you must understand by now why it is impossible to part with burgundy and green. I can still see burgundy sitting in his chair leafing through his medical journals. And there is green, watching the Niners in his chair with a row of bowling trophy’s standing like an honor guard on the credenza behind him.

 

They are so much more than leather and stitching to me. They are symbols of an unlikely pair who became so close green chair was the best man at burgundy’s wedding, whom he affectionately called “Doc”.