Monday, September 05, 2005

Nostalgia Isn't what It Used to Be

There was a time in the 1950's when my mother would read the evening paper and burst out laughing. I knew she was reading one of the funniest writers around. It was Louisville, KY and the columnist was B. M. Atkinson, Jr. He was a young man who had at least one young child at home. And he would sometimes describe the various ailments this child had.

One such ailment was "Potty Arm," in which the child was fascinated with the toilet. The child would roll up his sleeve, stick his little arm in the water, and plumb the depths of the toilet bowl. Atkinson could get an entire column out of the "diseases" of this one child. His descriptions were especially funny and close to home as my own child was beginning to look longingly at the white porcelain fixture in our house (he survived his water-logged arm problem and is now an artist named Caleb living in St. Pete, Florida).

Another column dealt with the misery of raking leaves out of the ivy in front of his house, as ordered by his wife. He could make such a dreary task ridiculously funny.

But alas, I left Louisville in 1957 and so did Atkinson. I heard that his columns got the attention of several Hollywood movie or TV people who asked him to write for them in the Los Angeles area. He seems to have disappeared over the years. I never heard from him again, except for a book he wrote, called What Dr. Spock Didn't Tell Us.

I seldom miss the past, seldom long for "home" and the good old days. But there are a few things I would like to revisit. One is the truly great rye bread from a German (Plehns?) bakery in Louisville. Also, I miss the thousands of acres of beautiful parks where I spent much of my time as a boy. And, yes, I would love to re-read those old columns by Atkinson.

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