Am I Blue


As noted in a recent post at Dustbury, James Lileks has a home, once again, on the print side of things at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Being the curious sort I am, took a look over there to see what was on his mind for his re-entry into “ye olde byline mode”, and was pleasantly surprised.
The column itself was framed around the remnants of Blue Laws. Those bits of codified custom, which at one time prohibited the sale of darn near everything on Sunday. It was, at least according to no less an authority then GOD, that we were to “keep the sabbath holy”. We were to give that day and (all) our energies and efforts over to Him which created us, in giving thanks and praise, and NOT by increasing our paycheck or helping some corporate entity to increase their’s.
But that, in and of itself, was not the picture James was painting that day. Or at least not the complete owner of his canvas. He went on to opine about a quieter, gentler time. One of visiting grandparents, of shared simple joys. Hu boy, did he bring back memories.
I have to agree with him. Sunday in our neck of the woods, was not as effected by blue laws (the Chicago metro area, and it’s sophisticated ways, beating back much of the Illinois blue laws, well before I was able to recall such things). To be sure, depending on where you lived, some bars would be closed, and (even to this day) automobile salesmen were not to be found. Still, you could go to Sears, or (pre-Sears) K-Mart. But for the most part, shopping was done on Saturday. Sunday was for finishing yard work (if needed), and for going to grandmas.
The day almost always started with the obligatory Sunday Mass. The family was always trying to make the 10:30, but most often that had left the station by time we were ready, and we would inevitably end up at the 12:00. Then it was a quick trip home to change out of our Sunday best, and into more comfortable attire. And off to grandmas we went.
If the weather was warm (read that as anything above freezing, with no major rain going on), the kids were sent outside. If inclement, we would find ourselves in the basement, watching the old black and white tv, or playing old 78’s on the old record player. Meanwhile, our parents, grandparents, and assorted aunts and uncles would be upstairs. And they could be found talking about the local dirt, any current family drama, or whatever it was adults talked about. This would be augmented with the sounds of the Cubs (back when WGN carried ALL the games) the Bears, golf, or bowling, depending what was in season or on the air at the time. Of course it was all “in living color” as the grandparents had 25 inches of television goodness. As we grew a bit older, we would be allowed to watch (in silence) Though seen and not heard wasn’t something done 100% of the time, adult conversations were just that, adult. Grandma would always spend some time with us, and we could always ask questions when there was a break in conversation. We were not ignored, but we did know our place, and our pecking order.
And much like Lileks, when “The Wonderful World of Color” blazed across the set, we knew it was nearing time to head back home. Though I seem to recall the end of Bonanza was usually when coats and kids were gathered up, good byes tossed about like grandma’s Hersey kisses, and we drove the two lane highways back to our little bit of suburban heaven.
That, my friends, was Sunday. A day of prayer. A gathering of family. Rest and relaxation, good food, hugs. For the most part, no worries, no pressures (at least none which couldn’t wait until tomorrow). A day in which to recharge.
And yes, I miss that. In this “every day is like every other day” world, one (even if they worked the day 9-5 shift) often has very little time to recharge. We are always on the go. Trying to make ends meet, with the ends pulling further apart despite all our best efforts. Sunday, just doesn’t seem to be the same.
Do (or did) the blue laws in and of themselves really make a difference? In my mind that is a yes or no kinda thing. The laws in and of themselves … no they didn’t. Ahhhh but the intent and spirit behind them, that’s another thing entirely. Being older (the “and wiser” part is still up for debate), I wonder if the intent wasn’t as much to control as to prevent human nature from sinking to the lowest point possible before reaching an equilibrium of sorts. The “equilibrium being turning Sunday in to “just another day of the week”, rather then a “day of rest”. After all, God being God, doesn’t need one … He’s God, fer cryin out loud. I would like to believe He did that for us, because he, better then anyone, knows our limitations. And, in so doing, sought to make life a bit easier for us. But humans being human, we went and botched it up.
Perhaps in this regard, the old way(s) of doing things were not all that bad after all. And I can live with out going shopping on Sunday. Heaven knows my paycheck doesn’t go that far into the week as it is.

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1 Comment

Filed under Harbor Life, Random Thoughts, Scribbles

One response to “Am I Blue

  1. This is a wonderful post, Guy. You paint a picture of that kinder and gentler America, now sadly relegated to Rockwell paintings, and memories of grandpa or uncle.
    That is a sore loss of innocence. And as you imply, the results are there for us all to see.
    ‘Bonanza’ and (for the young me) the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’…. sacrificed for the illuminated tripe now offered to families on Sunday nights.
    -Sigh-
    Nevertheless, Happy Easter to you, yours!

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