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Pink and gray 1955 Ford convertible. In that year of pink and gray cars and blond furniture, friends of my parents, Jack and DeLouris, had both. I thought they were so cool. Rock & roll was kicking off with Bill Haley & the Comets, Chuck Berry, Little Richard. Delouris liked the new music too. I was in the 7th grade when Elvis's first movie came out, then Elvis Presley--his last name hadn't been dropped yet, Love Me Tender, I think it was called. Love me tender, love me sweet, love me like you love your feet, take the dirt between your toes and rub it on your big fat nose. My sister was 5 years younger in the 2nd grade when this verse went around that she brought home. Generations later, a girl who now is mid twenties and then was a child thought it amusing to sing, pretty woman walking down the street, pretty woman I can smell your feet.
In both cases I'm amused remembering that time in myself how funny feet were. My sister and I would say to each other, smell my feet, stinkin feet. As an adult I can't find anything humorous about feet in such a way. Our daddy had stinking feet. I think it was because he wore his shoes two sizes too small. In every generation of children's humor, feet are one of the really funny subjects. In this time of showers and easy water, there probably isn't much stinking feet going around. I expect in the old days, grandpa who worked the farm and only took a bath once a week had some pretty rich feet. We're more particular about our scents in this time. One of the delights about DeLouris for a kid was she got a kick out of knowing kids. She'd laugh at kid jokes, listen to what's important that a kid had to say, and Jack was the same. I wanted them to be my real parents, though I'm not sure that would have worked.
Pink and gray together always bring Jack & DeLouris to mind for their 1955 classic car that was classic when it was new. And they had one. In the 7th grade starting to pay attention to cars and style and music and keeping up with what's cool, I couldn't go see Elvis Presley's movie, Love Me Tender, because I needed parents for transportation and they weren't going to a ridiculous movie with Elvis the Pelvis in it. "He won't last." They were put out that rock&roll was squeezing out Sinatra, big band, Andrews Sisters, and the kid was listening to that screaming Little Richard. They could take most of it, even hip-shakin Elvis, but drew the line at Little Richard. I could only play him when they were not in the house.
The other kids in 7th grade were seeing the new Elvis Presley movie and talking about it in school, how it made the girls cry, how great it was. I was aching to see it, because I thought he was great--Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, two of the coolest songs I'd ever heard at age 13. Jack and DeLouris took me to see it. DeLouris and I cried when Elvis was shot and died at the end. Oh no. Dead Elvis. I don't even want to think about seeing it now, but then, it was art to a kid just discovering pop culture. Also discovered at the same time MAD Magazine, which started as a comic book until the comic-code was initiated to get rid of it. It went to magazine and is still funny as it was then. DeLouris thought it was funny too. Jack and DeLouris were my friends until they both died, Jack of cancer, and DeLouris of old age.
They were very important people of my childhood. Very important. They were adults that paid attention to a kid who was only waist high, easy to overlook. I wondered why it was that more adults didn't pay attention to kids like kids really are conscious people. In my adult life, Jack & DeLouris are an ongoing example of how important it is to pay attention to a kid. I don't always do it. In fact, I'm like the majority when it comes to not paying attention to kids. Now and then, however, I get to know a kid from knowing the parents. When I know a kid like that, I extend myself to them, let them see I'm open to pay attention to their interests. That's when I start seeing their intelligence. Some years ago when my friends were having babies, I'd sit on the floor and roll a ball back and forth, ask them about their toys. That's all it took. They run off and return with an armload of toys, spread them on the floor and tell me the story of every one. I've regarded those moments among the most precious of my life that I'd have missed by only looking over the top of a kid's head, probably would have missed had I not known Jack & DeLouris.
DeLouris and my mother were friends in high school, Shawnee Mission in Kansas City, Kansas. DeLouris's mother, who had her own apartment in the other half of the house, was from Charlotte NC and cousin to Billy Graham. My mother loved it. DeLouris hated it. My mother became what we call a church nut and DeLouris couldn't humor the extreme my mother became, and my mother couldn't go on being friends with an unrepentant sinner who drank beer. They eventually fell out and Jack & DeLouris fell away from my life. Many years later I got back in touch with them and visited a few times. We drifted apart, but continued to have our places in each other's hearts. That will always remain. Kids I've been friends with are grown up now and continue as valued friends. It's a wonderful thing, watching kids you care about grow up and go through all they have to go through in their teens and twenties; marriage, babies, debt. Now I'm knowing their kids. I remember Selma Diamond on the Tonight Show, the only time I'd ever seen her or heard of her, talking about baby-sitting and how much she loved it. Carson expressed dismay. She said, "Children are just little people." That's as precise a definition as I can think of.