Tuesday, July 01, 2008


A few years back, a motel in Airway Heights, Washington changed its name from Baghdad Motel to something so forgettable that I can't remember what it's now called. Guess I'll never be staying there! Seeing that so many American troopers died in Baghdad, it seems sort of tragic that people don't want to honor the name of that city in which they died, doesn't it? You'd think that a patriotic fellow would speak with great reverence of the "Battle of Baghdad" rather than forget the location of such a long and fatal conflict. Anyhow. . . jingoists and the politically correct were no smarter sixty years ago than they are today. Remember Freedom Fries? Well think Sauerkraut. . . now there's another horrible name we should never again speak!

The following passage is from the Betty Smith novel of 1943, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I didn't much like the style of the book. Too old fashioned for me, but the speakers are living in 1918, the year that America entered the First World War, and this is what they said. You get the picture, don't you?

"Send Francie. The last time I asked for sauerkraut he chased me out of the store," complained Neeley.

"You've got to ask for Liberty Cabbage now, you dope," said Francie.

"Don't call each other names," chided Katie [their Mom] absentmindedly.

"Did you know they changed Hamburg Avenue to Wilson Avenue,” asked Francie.

"War makes people do funny things," sighed Katie.

As a kid, I recall the movie made from the book. It moved me nearly to tears. They also made a play out of it. Many people adore the book. An Irish actor named James Dunn (I think) got an Oscar for his supporting role as the lovable alcoholic father of Peggy Ann Garner, the lovable sweet adorable wonderful loving obedient innocent. . . (you get the picture) child daughter. Ah we was so innercent then, were we not?

No comments: