Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eliot Erlandson Interviewed about Thingies and the 2017 Shinoda Reunion!

My son Eliot is becoming a big wig in the sub-sub-subculture of vintage Thingie slot car racing!  Check out this interview with him:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Top 10 Ways My Parents Gave Us the Best Childhood EVER

I was thinking this morning what a great childhood I had.  It made me want to capture some of the things that my parents did well in raising us four kids.  So, here are my Top 10 Reasons my parents gave us the greatest childhood.

1.  Raising us in Champaign, Illinois.  Okay, this one may have been partially just luck.  But I have to say that Champaign was the optimum place to raise kids, because of the diversity of experience it provided.  Just across Duncan Rd to our West was a vast cornfield.  It's still there, in fact.  A few miles to the East was the University of Illinois with all of its rich cultural opportunities.

2.  Books!  Our parents had books all over the house.  It was like living in a library.  I could just wander along a bookshelf until some title captured my imagination, take down the book, and begin reading.  This was how I came to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X at age 9.

3.  Exposure to Dad's work colleagues.  My dad had some interesting, brilliant, and quirky friends at work.  Often they would come and visit our house.  Sometimes, we would visit their homes.  I never felt as if my parents were chasing us away when they had adult company.  We got to be there, and had equal access to these fascinating people.

4.  Music.  Mom and Dad had a pretty decent sized record collection.  It had a fairly wide range, so that we were exposed to multiple styles:  classical, jazz, pop, folk, and country.  They also paid for me and my sister to take piano lessons.  

5.  Hosting missionaries in our home.  Several times, Christian missionaries (mostly ones supported by the local church we attended) were guests in our homes.  This gave us a look at the larger world, and an inside view of the work of Christian missionaries.

6.  Hard work, competition, and capitalism.  My dad was an officer in the USMC, so he had very stringent standards about shining shoes and boots.  He set up a competition between us kids.   Every week, one of us shined his left work shoe, and the other one shined the right shoe.  We got paid 10 cents for this.  But it was also a contest.  After we were done, he judged who had done the better job.  That kid got to shine one of the shoes the next week (and thus, keep earning dimes).  The one who didn't win had to step down and make room for another challenger the following week.  This one simple exercise taught us so many life lessons.

7.  The Gospel.  Before all else, our parents were Evangelical Christians.  So they were careful to explain the Gospel to us in ways we could understand.  Their care and concern for our salvation was continuous and obvious.

8.  Anti-Racism.  Our parents had friends of other races.  They were welcome in our home, and we in theirs.  For a while, we drove the kids from a black family across town to Sunday School and Church with us.  I had no idea that this kind of thing was rare in 1967 or 1968.  Once, after dropping this family off at home after church, I made what can be considered a racist remark.  I was about ten years old.  The gravity and almost violence of my father's response against this (as well as his detailed explanation of why I was wrong to say what I did) shaped the entire rest of my life.

9.  Poetry.  For a Marine Corps officer, my dad sure had a lot of poetry memorized.  He understood it, too.  But most of all, he made us know that poetry was not some unmanly pursuit.

10.  They stayed married.  Of course, they had their difficult moment, like any married couple.  But they got through them and stayed together.  They're still together.