Back in the early 1950s, my mother, Lucille Burkhardt, wrote a weekly column for the still-awaiting-its-Pulitzer-Prize NEWBURGH (NY) NEWS. Occasionally I read her columns and I actually hear her voice. I decided to share this one that makes me laugh out loud. It reminded me of how we kids used to play back then, before video games, computers and television shows saturated the Hudson Valley and towns you grew up in.
This column was originally published on March 22, 1952.
Here it is on March 22, 2019, 67 years later.
WHAT’S ON AHEAD
by Lucille Burkhardt
March 22, 1952
My four little urban nephews are fast-moving, loud-talking, big-eating, dark-haired mischief makers. Nothing like my children. Mine are blonde.
The visit by the unholy four gives a nightmare quality to any weekend. Repercussions from the visitations cause the country cousins to regard their simple life with a jaundiced eye, if not a black and blue one. The city dwellers are usually in possession or prospect of something new and bizarre (expensive), therefore highly desirable in the eyes of the Hudson Valley Kids. Last week was no exception. The cousins arrived. I had everything prepared —- the aspirin bottle was on the kitchen table. Trouble started as the guests unjammed themselves from the car.
“What are those?” asked my twins, trim in cowboy suits and hats.
I thought the reference was to the relatives. It was a legitimate question.
“Don’t tell me you kids are still wearing cowboy hats!” sneered Ernest, biggest and brashest of the cousins.
“What else?” snapped Hop-a-Long Burkhardt.
(A photo from back then of my brothers, Robert and Ross, in their Roy Rogers finery!)
“Everyone in Philadelphia is wearing Civil War hats,” said Ernest, flicking a dust mote from his Union General Headgear. The younger boys had Johnny Rebel caps. For two days, our apple orchard was a branch of Gettysburg. With the departure of the “Southern” clan, the war took on a local aspect.
“When are we going to get Confederate hats,” became the battle cry. “We have our own money,” was the deciding victory.
“I have never seen them in Newburgh,” I told them. I hadn’t, not on any of my frequent semi-annual shopping expeditions.
“Oh, yes,” they contradicted. “The night you took us to the movies. We saw them in the store.”
“That was s Sunday,” I answered brightly. “Stores are not open on Sunday.”
“They are open today,” I was informed.
“Bus strike. I could not possibly get to Newburgh,”
“Send for them,” I was ordered. Service was still in operation in the U.S. Mail. The requisition was dispatched.
Now every lunch hour when I am informed of a new recruit to the Rebel and the GAR ranks in school, I feel that the department stores are doing all right with the Emancipation Proclamation.
At times I wonder if Civil War hats are historically ahead or behind cowboys’ Stetsons? Will the next popular headpiece be Crusader or Martian? Maybe someone should invent a helmet similar to those worn under the Magna Carta Oaks, with ray gun attachment. Please make it in the largest size. I think I’ll get one for myself. Especially if the crown is pointed to fit my head.