When I Was a Boy

November 8, 1999


Someone, I think it was “Mark in T Town” as he is known locally, posted the above old A&J cartoon on the Facebook fan page recently. For those of you who didn’t see it there or didn’t follow the links, it was the first of a six-day exercise in nostalgia that was a lot of fun, and—remarkably—came very easily to me. I’ve always enjoyed an excuse to revisit it. Thank you, Mark! (Remember: click on the link below the comic strip to see the rest.)


61 thoughts on “When I Was a Boy”

  1. You’re welcome Jimmy. Your 35 year run has produced a multitude of very good and very funny material. And ones like this hit the nostalgia button for some of us. You might put the series where Arlo falls asleep during Peggy Sue Got Married and dreams of his childhood. That’s another I really liked, because I remember all those ads encouraging kids to sell greeting cards, seeds or what have you to get that mythical bike.

      • Whoa, I didn’t mean to sound critical. I’ve been a fan of your work for over 20 years now. As my wife calmly reminds me from time to time, I am a poor communicator.

        I just meant it must have been fun to draw different things for a change. I just wrapped up a job where I drew the same 5 characters doing the same things 128 times(for a strategic card game). I’m happily doing something completely different now(chickens playing baseball).

  2. I didn’t see the (excellent) November 1999 series at the time it was originally published. I imagine I might have been busy preparing for Y2K. Or perhaps partying like it was 1999. Or maybe both.
    When I was twelve, I had an across-the-street 13-year-old girl neighbor like that. Good times, good times.
    Pro tip: If you want it done right, pick out your own headstone.

  3. What a wonderful series! I identify strongly with young Arlo in church, not with the fear of hell, because I grew up in a staid Presbyterian church, but those wool pants. They itched so badly!

  4. When I was a boy, I and the other boys were little hellions.

    We didn’t have tennis racquets, but we did play badminton.

    We used those racquets not to hit rocks but to splatter lightning bugs. Now, I regret being that kid.

    I miss the days when yards were filled with thousands of them. Now, they are becoming more rare every summer.

  5. When I was a boy, conscientious fathers (like mine) saw to it that we got a new pair of tennis shoes at the beginning of each summer, even when money was tight…which was just about every summer.
    And then, somehow, they became a high-dollar fashion statement, to be purchased year-round, and lo, it became the duty of fathers to ensure that their sons had, as Dave Barry put it, “sufficient sneakerage”.

  6. My mother would not allow me to wear tennis shoes. I am trying to remember why but I am old and confused and it was the 50s. I seem to recall “sneakers”?

    I remember getting a pair of pastel ones, very feminine and matched a lot of my skirts, lavendar I think, cost about $5. It was 1961 and I was starting college. Wore them for photo on front page of college paper with fellow student who went on to Harvard and ended up in Russia.

    He definitely didn’t own $5 lavendar sneakers. I suspect he played tennis.

  7. I grew up wearing “corrective shoes.” I absolutely hated them, even though I was “lucky” enough to get the ones they made to look like saddle oxfords. I wore them on the playground, riding my bike, and hiking on picnics. That was it: one pair of shoes for everything. I still have absolutely no idea what they were supposed to “correct.” At some point I was permitted to get a pair of Hush Puppy penny loafers and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

  8. We had whatever was cheaper at the time from Sears, Penny’s, or a local shoe store selling Keds. My younger brother was so happy when his feet grew larger than mine and he finally got new shoes!

  9. Re the 11-20-20 real-time cartoon: And have you noticed how many pharmaceuticals’ generic names end in “lol”? A subtle sign that the manufacturers are having us on, perhaps?

    • A lot of chemical adjectives end with “yl”, as in ethyl, butyl, phenyl, and a LOT more. The ending in the name for some structure with an alcohol function [that’s a grouping of C-O-H, with few exceptions] is “ol”. Chemicals having both may have legitimate names with “ylol”, not necessarily consecutively. That spelling could easily provide a common name ending in “lol”.
      Just an opinion.

  10. HAPPY BIRTHDAY emb —
    .
    It is worth shouting about.
    .
    Listen to MPR Classical Friday – Friday Favorites between 3 & 7 CST
    99.5 on the FM dial in the Twin Cities or
    .
    https://www.classicalmpr.org/listen
    .
    on line

    emb’s selection “should” be in an hour 5 ish CST but they are begging (membership Drive)
    so may be off a little.

  11. Re the 11-21-20 real-time cartoon: And “Try not to gasp when you see how Ron ‘Opie’ Howard looks today.”
    On second thought, that one may not be quite as far fetched. 🙂

  12. I hope that everyone is doing well. My broken rib is healing quickly. My doctor has a broken leg and the virus. A really good friend off ours, a school, teacher, also has the virus. Whenever any one comes to our house, including all 9 of my wife’s family, including’ my wife, they never wear a mask, except for me. I’ve been waiting to see which one gets the virus first. Well it’s my wife’s son. He’s really sick but is staying home and taking aspirin. I’ll be handing out masks to anyone who comes in the door. I’m wondering how long it’s going to take to clean, paint and refinish and recarpet the white house when we get the squatters out.

    • Jerry, glad to hear from you. But the squatters comment was unnecessary and detracts from what’s important in your comment. That you are getting better and that neither of you have the virus. Good, and I hope it stays that way. Speedy recovery to your wife’s son, and hopes that he is the only family member that gets it.

  13. Ghost and I continue to avoid contact with others as much as possible. I am basically imprisoned. I go out for medical necessity.

    We finally went out to Eufaula’s newest more upscale restaurant which in my opinion wasn’t worth the exposure. Our county is an Oklahoma Hot Spot and hardly worth risk.

    Ghost has a lovely menu planned for us for Thanksgiving and I will plan to help as his assistant. Nothing my family cooked for holidays on it because I deliberately cooked a different meal each holiday.

    Well, I do make a good cranberry compote that did become traditional fare.

  14. Re the 11-22-20 real-time cartoon: There’s college football this year? Really?
    On a more serious note, who else is old enough to remember what they were doing on November 22, 1963?

    • I remember being in school when my teacher got a call on a wall phone. She hung up, turned around crying to explain to us 5th grades what had happened and the whole class started sobbing. We thought the world was ending after all those air raid drills.

    • I was only two, so I don’t remember the shooting itself. What I do remember is watching JFK’s funeral on the big, black & white, console TV at my Grandma’s house. We probably went early for Thanksgiving since schools were closed, and to share the national tragedy together I would guess. She had a ceramic cat that sat on a green pillow beside the TV (she still had both until she died in the ’80s). I can still visualize that cat, along with the images of the caisson and the riderless horse, with backward boots. I can only imagine the emotional impact on everyone that caused a two-year-old to form a lasting memory.

  15. I can show you the exact spot where I was standing when I was told about the shooting. Also, excuse me if I would rather not die a miserable death from the virus. I thought my comment was very polite considering the circumstances.

  16. I don’t remember where I heard. I do remember the one black and white TV in our dorm living room where I cried and cried and cried. One of my boyfriends drove me home to my Granny’s sixty miles away. I cried and cried out cried.

    Then Bobby was shot and I cried and cried.

    Dr. King was shot and I cried and cried.

    President Reagan was shot and I cried.

    Now I just grieve for our country but it doesn’t end.
    I don’t know if I can cry.

  17. TR, “That there’s some good in the world and it’s worth fighting for.” That’s right for sure. The hundreds of thousands that died for democracy are a testament to that.

  18. You’re right, Jerry. Thank you for that reminder.
    And as far as 11/22/1963. I was in third grade and my class was out for recess on the playground. Suddenly everyone was called in and dismissed to go home. At 8 years old I didn’t really grasp what was going on when I got home and saw my family’s reaction to the news. My later recollection makes it seem like there was nothing else on tv until after the President’s funeral, but I realize that can’t be right.

    I know this is early, but I wish all of you God’s blessings, safe travels, good health and as much family time as you can stand. I wish I could still have the kind of Thanksgiving I grew up with, but that is gone for good. One of the inevitable parts of getting older.

  19. I was in my 3rd year of grad school, more specifically, getting a tank of regular at my favorite gas station [probably at 20 or 25 cents/gal!] during a lunch break. The station had either a radio or television going, and that is where I heard the news of the shooting. At the time, his death had not yet occurred.

  20. What froze in my memory were the two college professors who met on the stairway in my college following the 1962 election. Enraged, one of them pointing like he was aiming at the other, screaming “You elected him! You elected him!”

    We all froze in horror afraid of what was happening. Sixty years and I remember.

    No Mark, nothing else was on television from time it came on until it went off.

  21. Perspective re today’s A&J. They had a “life” class in the mid-’40s in a friend’s H.S., but it was an all-girls school then. In a 2019 or ’20 “LuAnn,” it was in a coed college, & the model was a hunk all the girls admired, & LuAnn couldn’t make herself look. A very pretty, laid back girl who is not a major player in the strip had also modelled previously. Her response to the other coeds’ concerns was basically, “So? I got 50 bucks.” Am guessing that would be typical today, at least in many urban settings & schools.

    https://www.gocomics.com/arloandjanis/2020/11/23

    Peace,

  22. Ghost: It’s just occurred to me how odd it truly is that so many in our local astronomy club are mourning the Arecibo disaster when few of us (certainly not this former trucker!) have ever had anything to do with it or any other radio or radar telescope! We’ve all read articles talking about the discoveries made there and at other sites, but very few of us have ever visited them. I guess we owe our emotional attachment to this one to a James Bond film?

  23. A 95%-effective COVID-19 vaccine is expected to ship for US vaccinations within 24 four hours following formal FDA approval, which is said to be scheduled for December 12th.
    “All I want for Christmas is my new vaccine…”

    I discussed the vaccine with my Primary Care Physician when I saw her last week. She was encouraged by the news.

  24. Jackie and I are rethinking our Thanksgiving Day meal plans. We will be travelling to Tulsa on the 25th for a regularly scheduled PET scan, and typically the trip, the radiotracer injection, and the procedure itself leave her pretty wiped-out for a couple of days. Today we discovered one of the local purveyors of BBQ will be serving on the 26th, so we will probably go that route and do our home-cooked meal over the weekend.
    “Burnt ends” for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, we are in Oklahoma, you know.

  25. All of our parents have passed, my wife’s younger sister has hosted the family dinners. This year, because she is most at risk of COVID (Crohn’s disease), we’re on our own. So, we’re down to a 14 pounder, which is going into the fridge as soon as I get home. Given the thawing advice that I just read, I’ll probably cook it on Friday. It’s been years since my wife or I have had food poisoning, and it’s my goal in life to keep it that way!
    .
    Our one married daughter and her boys won’t be able to stop by until Friday anyway…

  26. Glad to hear from you emb – was starting to worry.

    Was standing in line to get booster shots — 86th Engineers @ Fort Dix when heard about President.
    We went on Alert.

    Just 2 of us (& 3 Cats) for Thanksgiving. Corned Beef cooked with Sauerkraut, Boiled Potatoes, Squash, Pumpkin Pie.

    • Oh boy, Old Bear, the perfect meal! I love sauerkraut, and the other foods too. And not too complicated. I will be alone but daughter Nancy plans to bring me a meal.

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