Most people think of Benjamin Franklin as the man who discovered electricity, and they would be right, but there was really so much more to the man that just that. While we think of Ben Franklin as a genius, and he was, he only had two years of actual schooling. After that, he quit school to help his family make soap and candles, and later, joined his brother, James as an indentured apprentice at a printing shop when he was twelve. This led to an obsession for books. Franklin loved the written word, and spent much of the little money he made to buy books. Because of his love of books, he became known as an author, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, activist, statesman, and diplomat…all of it self taught.
While much of Ben Franklin’s life was centered around serious accomplishments, he also had a human side. There were things that he felt strongly about. He left 2,000 pounds of sterling silver to Boston and Philadelphia, with the stipulation that the money be held for 100 years, and then a small percentage could be used for loans for local tradesmen. After that, the rest was to be saved for another 100 years. The rest of the funds were used to build the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston. I’m not sure that was exactly what he wanted done with that balance, but it is a nice way to honor his memory.
Ben Franklin believed in the importance of fire prevention, and created the first volunteer fire department in 1736 called the Union Fire Company. Because he created it, the company was often called Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade. He also loved swimming, and he was a bit of an inventor there too. As a child, he used a kite to skim across the water, and he invented a pair of hand paddles that he used to navigate the Charles River. He was given an honorary induction in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
All that is interesting, but to me one of his coolest accomplishments was the Glass Armonica. You might be wondering what that is, but if you have ever played a water glass with a damp finger, you would have a pretty good idea how to play the Glass Armonica. Debuted in 1761, it was beautifully engineered with blown glass bowls. To play it, you simply wet your fingers and touched the various bowls to get a variety of sounds. The instrument was so popular that Beethoven and Mozart began creating music for it. Unfortunately the novelty wore off after a time, and that is why most people don’t even know what it is today. Ben Franklin was a man of many talents, and yet all we ever really thought about was the discovery of electricity.
For most little girls, their daddy is just about the greatest guy on earth. They are their hero, and often the guy they want to marry, or at lease someone just like their daddy. Some kids want to marry their parents, but I don’t recall ever saying that to my dad, but I guess I don’t remember everything I ever said, so I might have. Nevertheless, my sisters and I thought our daddy was a pretty great guy, and we always felt very blessed that he was our daddy.
My sister, Cheryl Masterson had the advantage over the rest of us in that she had more time with Dad than we did, simply because of age. I’m sure that the rest of us probably had the chance to do some of the things Cheryl did too, but maybe we didn’t think of it. I think a lot of kids, boys and girls alike are quite fascinated with the whole process of shaving. I remember watching my dad whip up his lather in a mug that he had, because when he started shaving, there was no such thing as conditioning shaving cream. The men made their own lather from soap in a mug. To us, that was a cool process, and we really didn’t get tired of it. Watching Daddy shave was one of the best things about mornings when we were little. We didn’t always get to watch though, because oftentimes he had to go to work early, and we were still in bed. Nevertheless, when we did get to watch, we might end up with soap on our noses, a common occurrence, and then we would get to help with aftershave, or we might even get some on us…early perfume, and we didn’t even care if it was for men.
Of course, we always knew that our daddy could do anything. Of that fact, there was no doubt. Daddy could give two kids a piggy back ride as easily as he could give one kid a piggy back ride. That was because he could do anything. We always knew that. I think lots of girls think that their daddy can do anything. It’s because we just love our daddies so much, and as far as I’m concerned, my daddy was the best daddy in the whole world. I suppose all kids say that, but I believe that with all my heart.
When I look back on all the wonderful things our dad did for us, I get a sense of just what a saint he was. My sisters and I were always very afraid of moths…even if they were all the way across the room. Dad never got mad, and he never made us kill the moth ourselves. He just took care of it, because his little girls didn’t like them. The same thing applied to spiders, or any other creepy crawly bug. With our dad, we got to be girly girls…even if that seems wimpy to some people. Dad knew we were girly girls, and it didn’t matter, because we where his girly girls…and he was our amazing daddy. Life was great…in fact, it was perfect. It doesn’t get any better. We love you Daddy.
Forms of discipline have changed over the years…from spankings to time out, and we all have our own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I was looking at some pictures of my father-in-law’s 75th birthday party, when I came across one of his sister and brothers. Esther was the oldest of the three younger children, my father-in-law’s half siblings, and while I’m not sure that she ever felt like she was the boss, she apparently decided that she was going to take her brothers by the ear and straighten them out…probably for picking on her, if I know them.
That picture reminded me of the times, probably more of them than I wanted to think about, whne I was hauled home in such a fashion. During the time that I was growing up, bringing a child home by the ear for the purpose of a spanking, or for washing their mouth out with soap for some serious verbal infraction of the behavioral code we were to live by, was quite common. Of course, the soap was safe to use in the mouth then too. With the chemicals it has now, I wouldn’t chance that today…and I really hated it a lot back then too.
The biggest problem with being dragged home by the ear is the humiliation of it all. First, you are being dragged down the street by your ear. And, if that isn’t bad enough, everyone knows that when you get home, you are going to get a spanking. Talk about humiliating!! You would think a kid would do whatever it took so they would never have to go through that humiliation again. Not necessarily so. We knew better than to cuss as kids…I mean that was like having a death wish, but there were other things, like calling your sister names, and such…not cool and definitely not allowed. That would get you the soap thing!!
I know that everyone feels differently about the forms of discipline that were used in bygone days, but I feel like the way I was disciplined, made me the person I am today. I have no misconceptions about how difficult I was as a child. I was a stubborn child, and it would be my guess that I got more than my fair share of the discipline of the day.