I had a very sheltered upbringing. To give an example, I didn't see a PG-rated movie until 1979, at 11, when "The Black Stallion" came out. My parents were careful of what I watched on t.v., what I was exposed to, and how they talked in front of me. Although they did it all out of love, it was a little on the annoying side, frankly.
My wonderful nana, who was born in 1890 and died when I was just 4 years old--well, she was a character. She was my mom's mother, and whom I suspect I got a lot of my quirkiness (with a sprinkling of rotten) from. My mother was an angel, and so was my nana... but she was also a storyteller, with a flair for the dramatic. Poetry was a big trend of her generation and she had memorized much of it. She seemed to have a poem for every occasion. There was nothing I loved more than to climb onto her lap and listen as she recited "Little Orphant Annie"--in her scariest, most melodramatic voice. (Something my mother herself would never think of subjecting me to!) I would just shudder with excitement every time.
LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
by: James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION
To all the little children: -- The happy ones; and sad ones;The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.
LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
That's for you, Nana. Sometimes I wish it were still 1971 and I could cuddle up in your lap! Although I only had you for a few short years, you will live on inside of me forever... gobble-uns an' all.