Friday, July 24, 2009

The Thing I Did That Summer


By CHRIS MILLSPAUGH

When I was an innocent kid full of hopes and dreams some 50, 40, 30 years ago—OK, it was last summer—I was bored to death and looking for something to do. Then I remembered the summer of 1954, when the family moved to Washington, D.C., from Monterrey, Mexico. My father, a college professor, former poet and novelist and member of some suspect "book clubs," had been blacklisted during the Sen. Joseph McCarthy "witch-hunt" days and we had to move abruptly to another country until the heat died down.

Now, the heat was off because Sen. Joe had been exposed for what he was and my father was welcomed back into American society as a legitimate person. He had been hired as the information officer for the newly formed Health, Education and Welfare Department in the Eisenhower administration. The whole family breathed a sigh of relief and we readied ourselves to enjoy the "American Dream."

We rented a comfortable home in northwest Washington where my two sisters and I were to attend school in the fall. My sister, Pat, a year older than I and very pretty, had a boyfriend with a cool car in less than a week. My sister, Mary, age 5, was immediately befriended by the next-door neighbors' two young girls and was kept busy every day. I was pretty shy, didn't know anyone and was left with nothing to do. I decided to entertain myself.

My favorite game was a derivative of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" called "Pin the Blame on the Writer," in honor of my father. That summer, I read 47 books from my father's library. Employing the tactics of the great senator from the state of Wisconsin, I read each one between the lines in order to determine whether or not the author was a communist. At the end of my research, I had determined that they were all a bunch of "reds." Some more than others, but, clearly, the whole lot of them were a bunch of "pinkos."

My father loved the game and we would discuss it every night. It got me through the summer.

If you're bored this summer, hey, make up a game and talk it over with your father.

Nice talking to you.

______________________________________________

Mr Millspaugh lives in a log cabin and works in the forest.




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