News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

March 5, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Innocence appreciated when you’re growing up

TERRE HAUTE — I grew up rather stupid. I didn’t realize it at the time. Neither did my teachers who seemed to think I had “promise.”

There were so many things I didn’t know. I’d put Mom through a quiz almost every night. I needed explanations of what I’d read — usually in a book, but often in the newspaper. Of course, the “Kendall County Record” was a weekly and usually didn’t print stuff I didn’t already know, but still things kept coming up.

I remember asking Mom what it meant when the paper referred to Myrt Belden’s “companion.” I remember that Mom explained that since neither Myrt nor her friend were married, they lived in the same house to save money. It seemed logical to me at the time. It still does.

Then there was the time I read that Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman’s drummer, was addicted to morphine. I had to ask Mom what that meant.

Fortunately, at about the same time, one of World War II’s flying aces in the South Pacific was undergoing treatment for morphine addiction following an air accident. Mom explained that morphine was a drug given to ease pain, but sometimes a patient couldn’t seem to live without frequent doses of pain killer and were said to be “addicted.” These people needed help to learn how to deal with pain without the drug.

Then a picture in Life magazine showed two young people hurrying across a New York street. The caption said they were hurrying to “meet their dealer,” who — Mom explained — supplied drugs. Why they needed drugs when they clearly had not been wounded in the war she did not explain.

I didn’t know about bullying either, at least we didn’t call it that. We did snicker behind our hands when Georgie Woolinweber’s mother insisted on going with him to ring doorbells on Halloween.

A lot of folks my family knew owned guns, usually shotguns or rifles. They shot deer and pheasant and rabbits and even squirrels for food. I can’t imagine they ever thought of taking their guns to school, not even for show and tell. I have NO idea how Mom would explain what happened in Connecticut.

There was so much I didn’t know, and frankly, I’m glad I grew up in such an innocent time.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

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