True Grit

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I want to be like this little girl who wandered away from her parents in the sand and into the beach restaurant where I was typing this blog. She came in to meet and entertain me, then to climb the stairs to the upstairs apartment—a dangerous enterprise with no side slats to keep her from falling. Her mom watched from nearby. I moved closer, just in case. But she made it up and down with no injuries, came over to chat a bit longer and then departed. I felt a bit happier and a bit braver myself by the end of our interlude.

The Prompt: Be the Change—What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

True Grit

I’d like my blog to be Grit magazine, Ann Landers and the funny papers—all rolled in to one. I’d like it to be the first love comic grabbed off the shelf, the thing everyone wants to read, hot off the presses. I want it to be true, uplifting and fun to read. Entertaining. A collection of words that make people feel better after reading. I want it to be the thing you go to after reading of the last cuts to social services for the poor, the latest fool elected to public office, the last school massacre or child who mistakenly shot an adult with a gun provided to him by an adult. The thing you read when you’ve had enough of police brutality, plane wrecks, financial crashes, reverse Robin Hoods, pit bulls attacking humans, humans abusing dogs, cartels, corporations, slanted news agencies, corrupt rulers, crimes against women, drought, Ebola, HIV and dengue.

Yes, all of these ills exist and we need to know about them, but do we need to know about them ad nauseam, day and night, hour after hour? Do we need them served with our morning coffee, our evening meal, our drive to work? Need we dream them, fill our thoughts with them every hour of the day? And need those thoughts be hopeless and without remedy?

It is not that I want to avoid reality, but rather that I’d like to give that reality my twist and I’d like one major strand in that twist to be optimistic, another to be humorous, another to gentle the cruel realities, another, if it is of any influence at all, to be a catalyst to understanding and a feeling that something may be done in this world.

If you don’t remember the Grit magazine mentioned earlier in this piece, Google it. You will learn that it was formerly a weekly newspaper popular in the rural US during much of the 20th century. It carried the subtitle “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.” It was full of human interest stories, usually with an uplifting slant. I can’t remember whether it came in the mail or whether we purchased it in the grocery story or in Mowell’s Drug, but I do remember grabbing it out of Mom’s brown paper bag when she got home from a trip down town and making off with it to my room or a grassy place in the shade of an elm tree to be the first to read it.

Perhaps you will label me as superficial if I admit that the first things I read in The Mitchell Republic—that “real” newspaper actually delivered to our front door—were Ann Landers, the comics (We called them “the funny papers”) and the crossword puzzle. I guess I wanted to be entertained, but I also wanted that assurance that something could be done about the bad things in life. Dick Tracy could solve the crimes. Mary Worth could be of worth in helping out. Ann Landers could find a solution to the ache of love and every puzzle could be eventually solved with hard work and perhaps a peek at the dictionary.

Now Google makes puzzle-solving a snap, so long as one is not shy about cheating and using that larger universal brain to solve the Sunday Cryptic Crossword, but in revealing so much, Google causes bigger problems—mainly, what to do with all of this knowledge of the world. For me, what I do with it is to write about it and within the world of my creation, to try to alter it enough to put a bit of hope into the world—to tinge it with a sense of humor or a sense of creation or a stab at a solution—however fanciful or impossible or romantic or homespun or illogical it may be.

This blog is like the biggest purse in my collection of very big purses indeed. In it lie jumbled together all my memories, dreams, hopes, heartaches, genius, stupidities, foibles, schemes, assurances, doubts, mistakes, successes, affections and affectations. The clasp I leave open for all to dip inside to see what they might find. One day, draw out a ditty, the next a tirade, the next a soggy handkerchief, soaked with my tears or an unused Kleenex to dry your own tears that were soaking your pillow when you woke up.

I want to be that thing you sneak off with before the rest of the family cottons on to its presence and take up to your bedroom to read with your back pressed up against the bolster on your bed or roll up and stick up your sleeve as you make off to the hammock or that shade in the grass beneath the tree.

And when you finish reading, it would be neither the hugest compliment nor the hugest insult you could give if you just thought, “That girl’s got grit!” I think a knowledge that she had prompted that statement would make the little girl or teenage girl who snatched that weekly magazine from the grocery sack very happy.

17 thoughts on “True Grit

  1. okcforgottenman

    I remember Grit. Growing up here in my small town, it was delivered by my newsboy cousin Steve. Sometimes I’d help him ready them for his bicycle delivery route and read his copy while he was out tossing them in subscribers’ yards. Yep, Judy, you’re my True Grit! Thanks for another lovely post.

    (Oh, and that photo of the baby is amazing. Don’t you think she looks like the New Year’s baby that is represented along side last year’s old man?)

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      okc: I’d love to see a copy. Sure I can find one online. I did find a nostalgia piece on it giving pics and information, but no columns. I think they had an advice column but can’t remember if it was Ann Landers. I love that picture (and others) I have of the baby. I just loved how outgoing she was. We talked for some time and her parents were so non-controlling. They just observed from afar that she was okay. Yes, she does look like the New Year baby…ha.

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  2. mjennings

    “This blog is like the biggest purse in my collection of very big purses indeed. In it lie jumbled together all my memories, dreams, hopes, heartaches, genius, stupidities, foibles, schemes, assurances, doubts, mistakes, successes, affections and affectations. The clasp I leave open for all to dip inside to see what they might find. One day, draw out a ditty, the next a tirade, the next a soggy handkerchief, soaked with someone else’s tears or an unused Kleenex to dry your own tears that were soaking your pillow when you woke up.”

    (The perfect analogy to what I think, our voices on our blogs ought to be, all thematics aside. This. Is. Perfection.)

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  3. Allenda Moriarty

    I grew up reading The Rock Island Argus, and later when we moved, The Moline Daily Dispatch. Even though the Quad Cities were known as “The Farm Implement Capital of the World”, I guess we weren’t rural enough to receive Grit. Sounds like something I would have loved to get my hands on. As it is, the funny papers, with Henry, and Our Boarding House with Major Hoople, Dagwood and Blondie, Dick Tracy,The Katzenjammer Kids, and a host of other old favorites were eagerly read as soon as my dad had first crack at them. The “funnies” were always his favorite part of the paper. Another must read in the Moline Dispatch, was “Siren Echoes” which reported every local arrest, accident or fire. Any time a police car, ambulance or fire truck was called out it was news. Someone burning leaves, that had gotten slightly out of control would immediately make the papers. Yawn. My dad would read “Porky and Ponce” a hunting and fishing column written by someone named Porky, who I have no knowledge of, and appropriately, “Ponce”, a friend of theirs, Mr. DeLeon. I remember the DeLeon’s mostly for the fact that we were greeted with the news that their son, Craig, had killed a bunch of turtles when we arrived for a multi-family vacation at Silver Lake in Wisconsin. We were horrified. I guess that hunter/fisher gene was passed on. Another column that my mom liked to read was Plant and Pick by Piper. This was a gardening advice column written by the mother of a girl in my class in junior high. We used to have some spectacular water fights with boys in their yard/garden with buckets of water and hoses. Too young and innocent to engage in wet t-shirt contests, but the end result was the same.

    Those times are long past, but now I eagerly await your daily blog, sometimes more than one entry a day, which is particularly delightful. You are a gritty gal, no doubt about it.

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  4. Pingback: Be The Change | In Pursuit of Rainbow

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