How I See Things
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021
by Stuart Crump Jr.
“Daddy, what does ‘O-F’ mean?” My daughter asked.
You see, she’s learning to read. In kindergarten, no less. When I was a kid we didn’t learn to read until first grade. Indeed, I went to school with a kid named Johnny who never learned how to read at all. Rudolph Flesch wrote a book about him.
“Hug?” I replied, hoping to change the subject.
“What does O-F spell” she repeated.
“Of,” I replied.
I HAD HOPED that they wouldn’t start teaching reading until first grade. I was looking forward to at least one more year of peace and quiet.
“Daddy, what does O-F-F spell?”
What in the dickens do these teachers think they’re doing, teaching kids to read at age five-and-a-half? Shouldn’t youngsters be spending more time watching television? Like adults do?
“What?” I mumbled.
“What does O-F-F spell?”
“Off,” I said, “as in ‘How do I ever turn you off?’”
“You can’t turn me off,” she said, “I’m not a television.”
BENJAMIN Franklin wrote something in his autobiography about how he learned to read when he was about three years old. But then, what else was there for kids to do in those days? Donnie and Marie hadn’t even learned to skate back then.
“What does O’F’F’F spell,” she asked, putting an extra emphasis on the last “F.”
“Let me see that book,” I said.
“It’s not a book. I’m writing a letter and I wanted to know what I wrote.”
“Who’s the letter to?”
“Grandma and Grandpa.”
“Why don’t you send it to them and let them read it? It isn’t nice for me to read other people’s mail.”
She tried again. “What does O-F-F-F spell? Three F’s.”
“Oooooooof,” I said, pretending someone had just slugged me in the stomach. She thought that was funny and laughed very hard. That’s what I like about kids. They laugh at my jokes. Sometimes.
I WAS READING a study the other day that said children shouldn’t be encouraged to read too soon. Sometimes it isn’t good for them. It makes them smarter than their parents before they reach eight years old. I agree with that study.
“What does O-F-F-F-F spell?”
“How many F’s did you say?”
“Four F means you’re not fit for military duty.”
“Daddy, tell the TRUTH,” she said, mimicking me perfectly.
At least it felt good to be able to come up with an original joke she hadn’t heard. It’s usually the other way around.
For example, the other week she asked me, “What time is it when an elephant sits on a chair?”
Now what kind of question is that? I took a wild guess. “Time for the circus to start?”
“Time to get a new chair.”
Broke me up, too.
SO I THOUGHT I’d try one. She started it, after all.
“Okay, what’s black and white and red all over?”
“A zebra that fell in the ketchup.”
It wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for. She probably read it in a book somewhere. Certainly not in a newspaper. We don’t put jokes like that in the newspaper. So I turned to her and asked, “Where’d you ever get a dumb answer like that?”
“You told me,” was her reply.
Guess who turned red all over. Not the zebra.
This article originally ran under “Crump’s Corner” in The Princeton Packet newspaper. I was 5 1/2 years old at the time, as the article alludes to me having just started Kindergarten. I hand typed this from the file my dad kept, but unlike most of what he kept, there is no date on when the article first ran.
I have previously mentioned that my dad, Stu Crump AKA “Professor Yo-Yo,” died after battling Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years. I shared the closest thing he had to an obituary, a wonderful tribute made about him on YoYoNews.com
My dad had vision issues, as I do. And so did my grandpa (who also recently died, after having just turned 100 years old). I think about both of them a lot. I have memories of my grandpa putting in his contact lenses every morning. He was a long time volunteer for his local chapter of The Lion’s Club. I think he volunteered with them from the 1960s through his death in 2021.
I have memories of my dad “resting his eyes.” His eyes, like mine, got tired, and he would sit up in a comfy chair, and close them to rest them.
My dad viewed the world differently from the vast majority of people “out there.” My dad taught the world that they all need a cellphone. People laughed at my dad. “Why would anyone need a cellphone when there is a pay phone on every corner?” “Cellphones give you cancer in the brain!” Dad persisted. He worked hard to teach cellphone companies how to market cellphones and get around consumers saying “I don’t want one, I don’t need one.”
Let’s see if it worked - are you reading this from a cellphone? If so, smile and thank my dad, would you? His name is Stu Crump. Grammatically, I should say “was,” but he is still alive in my heart. So I am saying “is.” I hope you will be okay with my poetic or blog-etic license to choose the verb I want to, in regards to my own dad.
I had everyone, at my dad’s memorial service, hold up their cellphone to honor him. In the audience was only one person that I know who didn’t have one. She told me about it later. She said, “why would I need a cellphone when everyone around me has one?” I thought that was funny and ironic. And: she’s right. She is no slave to cellphones. Her husband once told me: “she is the most ‘letter-writing’ person I have ever known.” Seems to me she connects with people in the good old-fashioned way of letter writing. How real and wonderful. That is an art that is being lost.
In the words of Mark Twain (one of my dad’s favorite authors) - “But I digress.”
So, my dad was a writer, as I am. He taught me everything he could. He was a single dad for the first 8 years of my life. We hung out and did stuff. He read his newspaper. He took me camping and to Boy Scout jamborees. He took me to basketball games and hockey games. He was the small town newspaper reporter, editor and photographer. He knew everyone in town. Wherever we went, he would introduce me to people. “Hey, Sam, this is my daughter, Jodi.” “Beth, come meet my daughter, Jodi.” He knew all the random people in every parking lot and at every playground. He was friends with all of them.
So, as I am sorting out my life and my possessions, post-move, I have come across a lot of his writings. I want to honor his work. And I am choosing to add a new avenue to my own blog:
My dad’s weekly column called “Crump’s Corner.” It ran in the Princeton Packet in New Jersey. I will also add other things he has written, as I find them. It is my intention to run one of his columns every month on the first Monday of each month, so long as my ADHD and disorganization doesn’t get in my way.
I also have plans for at least one of his books. I am trying to figure out the marketing on that. If you know anything about marketing a book, please contact me; I would like to bend your ear.
I just love the way my dad viewed the world, and I want to share it with all of my readers, too. He saw the world in unique ways and taught me to do that, too. And to me, sharing his work fits with the theme of my blog.
I will be sharing the column in a blog post, all on its own. I hope you enjoy them. I hope you will read them, laugh a bit (the are clever and funny and sometimes quite wise) and comment.
I hope you’re having a very nice summer.
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