Hello and welcome to kleimansays.com, the blog that gives you more… something, I can’t remember what.
I’ve been off my game because of the pandemic, and remiss in keeping up with the blog. So, to get things rolling again, I am going old school and actually writing this. (What you can’t see is that I’m not writing it in the original sense of the word. I’m actually dictating it to my iPad, that I’ve named Dierdre for no reason whatsoever [except perhaps because Monty Python used the name often because, sorry Dierdre, it’s funny if you say it right], who writes it for me, so to avoid potential copyright infringement litigation, I share credit for this blog post with Dierdre and all the fine people at Apple products. But if you’re going to suggest words, Dierdre, please suggest ones I might actually use.)
I spent my early childhood in a nice little ranch-style home on a nice little street in a nice little town on Long Island. My mother’s parents lived in Brooklyn, in the apartment where mom grew up. Normally, we would visit them because grandpa didn’t drive (back then, grandmothers never drove, it was the law) but once in a while we’d pick them up for a visit out to the country, OK it was just suburban Long Island but to them it probably felt like the country.
My grandfather had an accent but spoke English very well in addition to Yiddish, Slavic languages and some German, and he had what I call a stealth sense of humor. For example, I asked him (when I was 6) if he fought in World War I and he said, “yes, for the wrong side.” Another time, walking down the street in East New York, I proudly reported that I had been to the dentist that week and had no cavities, to which he smiled widely and responded, “neither do I.” He had no teeth. All dentures.
These days, seniors are pretty tech savvy. They can even use smart phones (it only took me 15 minutes to instruct my mother to take the picture of a picture, above, on her iPhone and text it to me. She sent a video and cut off my grandfather’s brothers’ heads, in her case a solid effort). But in the dark days before cell phones and iPads and streaming, people passed time in other ways, reading, listening to or playing music, card games, board games, and yes, watching TV, and in summer especially, a lot of outdoor activities.
When grandpa came out to visit during the summer, he would spend his day weeding the lawn. You read that right; Grandpa Meyer would go into the garage, grab the largest screwdriver he could find, and then all 125 wiry pounds of him would crawl around on the lawn, digging up dandelions. No one asked him to do this. It wasn’t some sort of payment for my father schlepping all the way to Brooklyn and back to pick them up, although come to think of it, that may have been (I kid).
He thoroughly enjoyed himself. I think about that to this day. Here we are, always keeping busy with something, the TV on, the Internet and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, etc., plus everyone has hobbies, golf or fishing or gaming, and people have entertainment centers on their patios, they join beach clubs and pool clubs and tennis clubs. And we had some of those back in the day, but here was grandpa, on his one day out of the hot, concrete city, he could do anything he wanted, and what he wanted to do was… weed the freakin’ lawn.
50+ years later, that finally makes perfect sense (what doesn’t make sense is that I am now the same age as grandpa back then). Here’s a guy who grew up in a religious Orthodox household on the edge of some forest in Czechoslovakia where his father owned a sawmill. He had acres and acres of forest to play in. After WWI, he comes here and lives in an apartment in Brooklyn without so much as a tree, except for the 4 foot tall snake plant he kept in the living room, and he comes out to Valley Stream, to a house in a development built in the 40s and 50s, purchased largely by veterans under the G.I. Plan, and there was this, to him, vast lawn that needed weeding. And so, getting out there with a giant screwdriver and taking out dandelions was simply a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine and spend an afternoon with the family. It was fine with me. I just followed him around and watched him take the weeds out, talking with him the whole time.
Back then, I didn’t think twice about the fact that he was weeding the lawn. Perhaps I thought he was just trying to be helpful. But now, after we’ve all been locked in the house for a year plus, maybe getting out and weeding the lawn is just the thing to get us back in touch with the earth and the great outdoors.
Okay, how about an ice-cold gin n’ tonic on the patio while watching the gardeners? Our generation is a little different.
Well, that was a fun memory. Thanks for stopping by so I could share it with you, on kleimansays.com the blog that gives you more… something. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.