Thursday, May 08, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
Obviously, I grew up in the age of political incorrectness. Clearly I was raised in a politically incorrect neighborhood. I had this one chum growing up who turned out to be an Indian. I found out that he was and Indian over at his house one day. We were walking through his living room to get to his bedroom where he kept some toys when I noticed that his gray-bearded grandfather was having a conniption over something that he was watching on the TV.
He was watching the movie Custer's Last Stand. The Indians were circling around Custer and his soldiers and running them all through. My buddy's grandfather kept cheering at the wrong parts. He started bouncing up and down and laughing riotously every time a soldier got scalped or an arrow pierced a uniformed man's heart.
"What's with gramps?" I said to my buddy.
"Oh don't mind him. He is a full blooded Cherokee Indian. He loves to watch the old westerns and cheer for the Indians."
Form then on, me and the gang all called or little friend Chief Sitting Bull - Chief for short.
I had another friend who was Hispanic. We called him Zorro or Pancho Villa. Another of the gang was Italian. We called him Ginnie. We used to stand on the sidewalk in front of his house and yell for him to come out and play. "GIN-NIE," we would all scream. Sometimes his dad would come out on the porch in his strap-over T-shirt and glare at us. We would all say; "Can Ginnie come out and play, Mr. Paparlardo?" For some reason he would never answer us. He would just shake his head and go back inside the house.
We had another kid who got his right hand chopped off in an accident. We called him Lefty. Another buddy was born with clubbed feet and he walked funny. He was called Gimpy. We sometime went to breakfast after Sunday Mass. Everybody's favorite place was called Little Black Sambo's.
The French kids were Frogs or Puddle Jumpers, the Irish kids were Harps, the English guys were Limmies, the Polish guys were Polacks. I only knew one black kid growing up and we called him Jasper. His real name was John Smith. Every time the cops would come to the corner to bust us up and take names. Jasper would tell the cop that his name was John Smith and he would get a free ride downtown in the cruiser for being a smart ass.
We had penny candy stores on every street corner. They had all kinds of funny named candy. They had Turkish Taffy, and Sugar Daddy all day suckers and Tootsie Pops and Three Musketeers Bars and Sky Bars. They had rock candy, buttons, gum drops, Jew Jew beads, milk duds and whatever. One of the candies was called Nigger Babies. They were about an inch long they were black licorice and they were sprinkled with sugar. I can honestly say none of us ever associated Nigger Babies with black people. It was a type of candy with a funny name. If they had other candies there named, After Birth, Abortion Babies, Serial Killers and Date Rapers, I am sure that us little guys would have walked up to that glass display case and said: Mrs. Brooder, I would like 2 Nigger Babies, 3 Date Rapers, 4 Serial Killers and 1 Abortion Baby. Does that make a dime's worth?" And not a one of us would ever have blinked twice. It is much the same as when we go into our favorite fast food shop and order: 2 Big Fat Harry's, 3 Frostiworties and 5 MacDonald's Dubble Duppers.
Today people say Jesse Jackson and they end up in a fist fight. We used to have knockdown dragged out serious name calling fights. We used to scream in each others faces and say terrible things like - Your mother wears paratrooper boots or sew a button on your nose.
I never really got that paratrooper one. Well, actually, I don't get the button on your nose idea either. As we got older there was another common expression that I never got - They all look the same upside down - the boys used to say about women. Really? You mean Marilyn Monroe looks the same as Erma Bombeck upside down? I don't think so. And are the girls upside down or the viewer upside down?
But the finale to any of this word bombast was:
"Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me."