Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sunday Dinner in the Old Days

Gorilla Monsoon, Bruno Sammartino, Haystack Calhoun
Now if we could go back in time, Sunday afternoons (after church, of course) you would find my parents, my two kid brothers and Yours Truly at my paternal grandparents' house.

Odds are pretty good that when we arrived my grandfather and my oldest paternal uncle (both named Louis) would have a car engine suspended from a tripod made of rough hewn pine logs. They would be doing whatever it is one does with an automobile engine when it is out of its natural habitat. Said habitat being under the hood of an automobile. Naturally.

My Dad would confer with his Dad and oldest brother regarding the state of that engine while Gramp (for such is the name my grandfather was known as, at least amongst we of the younger generation) and Uncle Louis wiped grease and oil from their hands in preparation for Sunday dinner.

Upon reaching the interior of my grandparents' house (said entrance being gained through a wood shed* actually attached to the back of the house, while there was a front door, I don't recall anyone ever using it) my Gram would be in the kitchen (the first room entered via the wood shed) cooking Sunday dinner.

If all went well, my brothers and I would receive a cookie or perhaps a donut to "tide us over" until dinner. Both would have been freshly baked by my grandmother that very morning.

I suppose by now you're wondering what all of this has to do with those old-timey wrestlers in the lead-in photo. Well, indirectly a lot.

For while the roast was in the oven (or whatever it was Gram was cooking) Gram and Gramp would repair to the TV room and watch wrestling. They were serious fans. The only time my grandparents would get into a squabble in front of the grandkids was when they were watching wrestling.

Something would happen and my grandmother, with her Scottish accent, would cry out that what she just saw was illegal and why, Louis, why were they allowed to get away with that? She was passionate about "the wrestling" as one of my kid brothers (The Musician) might put it. (He has started putting "the" in front of things to make himself sound old-timey and quaint. Well, he has always been of an artistic bent. Besides which, he lives in the Boston area and that, plus his gift for playing the guitar, gives him a certain cachet in some circles.)

At any rate, Gramp would typically tell her that if the referee didn't see it or didn't call it, then she shouldn't get herself all worked up.

Well, one day Gram was absolutely outraged by some event which had just occurred in the squared circle. While Gramp was trying to get her to calm down my Dad walked in. Casually he looked at his parents and said,

"Oh come on Mom, we all know that wrestling is fake."

Both grandparents froze, then turned to look at their youngest son.

It was as if my father had just denied the existence of God and proclaimed himself to be a Marxist.

Yup, all Hell broke loose.

Gram stomped off in a huff while my grandfather began to berate my father for having the gall to suggest that Gram's favorite sport was not on the up and up.

We could hear Gram in the kitchen slamming pots and pans around (which I have noticed is something of a "threat display" in the female of our species, but don't tell anyone I said so) and muttering dark imprecations in her faint Scottish brogue.

Gramp dragged Dad outside (to look at that suspended engine I presume) while Gram calmed herself by slamming pots and pans around. When my Mom went to help Gram (in the slamming about of cookware) we kids were at something of a loss about what to do next. My oldest younger brother (The Olde Vermonter) would probably suggest some outdoor activity which would remove us from the line of fire, should things escalate.

They seldom did.

Mom would make Dad tell his mother that "No Mom, wrestling isn't fake. It's as real as baseball and other sports." She would allow herself to be placated and (if we played our cards right) we would get another cookie (or donut) before dinner. (But only if Mom could be distracted somehow.)

Then, eventually, we'd all sit down to Sunday dinner.

Sometimes Uncle Charlie (Dad's other older brother, though not the oldest) would show up and ask his Mother, "So did Bob tell you that wrestling is fake?"

And we'd start all over again.

Being a kid in my family was always interesting.

I did gain an appreciation for the finer points of pro wrestling though. In later years we would gather around the TV in Germany on a Saturday afternoon and watch wrestling.

Good times.

So tell me, it's real?

Right?





* Thinking back on it, I'm not sure if it was actually a "wood shed," i.e. a shed for storing wood. My grandparents had a lot of stuff in there. May have been some wood too. But I don't recall them having a wood stove. So I'm not sure why they would have a supply of wood. Well, it was an awfully long time ago. The last time I was at my grandparents house was around 1971 I believe, shortly before my Gram passed away.

30 comments:

  1. Excellent blog, love it!! Great memories for us old farts!

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    Replies
    1. I prefer the term "experienced" as opposed to "old" - but if the shoe fits, I must wear it.

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    2. Yeah why use a one syllable word when you can sound brilliant by using a three syllable word....

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  2. Watched all these guys on Friday night at my house, a one hour show called "Bedlam from Boston." The champ at the time was Killer Kowalski and his unbreakable "Claw hold."

    It clearly was not fake!!

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    1. Killer Kowalski and the "Claw" - how could I forget that one?

      (Hhmm, "Bedlam from Boston" rings quite a few bells in the old noggin.)

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  3. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the back stairs of my Grandmother's house in San Francisco watching my Mom, Aunt, Grandmother and Great Grandmother prepare Sunday dinner. Grandma and Nonie were full blood Italian and there would be no "store bought" pasta. Probably the reason I love to cook.

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    1. Home made pasta, love it.

      There is nothing quite as tasty as Italian food prepared the old fashioned way.

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  4. Why was The wrestling always on Sunday afternoons?
    Even when I was a little kid, and the matches were film instead of live, they were on Sundays.
    Later, at PH, when the ship was in the yard and we were living in barracks, we'd gather in the TV lounge to watch the local version.
    Must be a union thing?

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  5. During the 1960's, with an interruption for the Army, I worked security for various sporting events, including pro wrestling. One time two wrestlers who really didn't like each other forgot the script and were trying to kill each other. The promoter came running over to my partner and I demanding we get in the ring and, "Stop them". Not happening, we got paid for tossing out drunks. Eventually, they got tired and quit on their own. Mostly, the wrestlers were working from a script, and each has his own "legend" but the fans didn't care. Tremendous athletes, they were, and good actors. Chief Wahoo (McDaniels) and Cowboy Bob Orton come to mind. Backstage, some of the nicest people you would ever meet.

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    1. The thing I like personally about wrestling are the back stories, the legends.

      And yup, they are great athletes, if you don't think so, try doing what they do in the ring. Scripted yes, easy, NO.

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  6. OK, so pro wrestling is real. Now what about ROLLER DERBY!?!

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    1. Of course Roller Derby is real. I mean, c'mon how could you fake that?

      (HSWHTPFIHC)

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    2. Apropos o' not much... I always lusted after those roller derby girls. Professional wrestlers? Not so much. Not EVEN, actually.

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    3. And now we're off in search of another thread to hijack.

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    4. Those were some rough and tumble ladies. How could you not like them?

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    5. Oh, regarding the "thread hijack" - no such thing here. Sometimes a comment can take a thread in an interesting direction. One that had nothing to do with the original post!

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  7. http://battlebornderbydemons.com/
    Reno's Battle Born Demons. My niece is "medically retired" from that group.

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    Replies
    1. I think you might find one of my upcoming posts interesting.

      You and Buck both.

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  8. Years ago I was in the Minneapolis / St. Paul airport when a very well dressed and good looking couple walked by, it was Maurice (Mad Dog) Vachon with a full set of teeth and his S.O..
    As someone who had watched AWA wrestling on Saturdays TV out of Duluth Mn. the change in his appearance was amazing.
    I also had a aunt and uncle who BELIEVED that wrestling was on the up and up.

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    1. Mad Dog Vachon! Another old favorite!

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  9. The 'wood shed'...had other uses as well, for example 'keep that up mister and you can count on a 'wood shed reckoning'. As a kid, I knew what was coming! great story, thanks!

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    1. Ah yes, that use. Not that I'd know anything about that.
      ;-)

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  10. We never watched the wrestling but once the FAST came to town and the SEALs started to play we used to watch Ultimate Fighting every week. Blood and gore with a chicken dinner thrown in or something from the Iskandren Grill.

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    1. Sounds very Roman. Does Bahrain have a coliseum?

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    2. Several, but the Mannai always did in a pinch.

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    3. Adaptability is a very useful trait.

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