Saturday, January 6, 2018

From Volume 38: "Suburban Housewife" by David S. Macpherson

By David S. Macpherson

When I was a suburban housewife in the 1970s, before everything changed so drastically, you could play with your kids and still smoke cigarettes. You didn’t want your kids to smoke, but back then, we believed in the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Soccer had just become popular so I drove the kids in the station wagon to practices and games. Or they ran off to another kid’s backyard for T-ball or touch football or whatever else suburban kids did to fill up their day. You didn’t worry where they ran off because they never left the block. Back then, your kids were safe in someone else’s backyard.
When I was a suburban housewife in the 1970s, I had to find ways to fill up my days as well, but I didn’t have the luxury of T-ball. I had laundry to do. I had groceries to put away in the green Formica cabinets. I had bathroom scum to wipe up. I had Tonka trucks to trip over. Throughout the house, I played music: Neil Diamond, Mack Davis, Crystal Gayle. Back then, music was wholesome and smooth.
I left the albums of my childhood in the closet. My favorites: Buddy Holly, The Kingston Trio, Ella Fitzgerald. Those records were too painful to listen to. It reminded me that I was not in New York anymore. That I would never get a chance to go to the Village Vanguard to hear Dave Brubeck or Thelonious Monk anymore. Now, I was a suburban housewife living outside of Chicago in a land of green manicured lawns and garden gnomes. You didn’t talk about being a New Yorker, let alone a Jewish New Yorker. Back then, you wanted to act as goyish as possible. Wonder Bread was safe bread.