When we were together,
Before growing apart
From father and mother,
We entertained ourselves with song;
All the sisters and brothers.
We gambolled in the backyard,
The clothes line was our zip line,
We fell soft, then hard.
We somehow got a hold of skates,
Not knowing what they're for,
So we took turns,
Laced them on,
To skate on cement floors.
We raised a high jump,
Skipped on the driveway,
Double Dutch and Speed;
We strung a line for volleyball,
Nailed a hoop below the roof,
Played soccer in the hall.
We paddled ping-pong on the table;
Our household freedom
Made us as grateful
As animals in a well-kept stable.
Some winters we'd flood the back,
And shoot and slide until the cracks
Turned to puddles,
Then I'd sail popsiclestick boats
To distant folks.
On the frontwalk we tossed our stones,
Landing on the moon,
And hopscotch til we went for soup
And soda bread and **** milk.
If we had a ball and bat,
Chances are we'd not come back
'til the sun went down;
When the stars came out,
We'd *Hide and Seek,
Til the last one'd shout, Home Free.
With dirt and patchwork dungarees,
We went in
For good-night tea.
Weren't we the normal family?
Then we got our first T.V.
We were landed,
And we started channelling
We weren't polite like Cartwrights,
Nor guaranteed Lil' Joe's birthright.
The sisters locked on Patty Duke,
Then dressed the same
To get the look,
So they ditched their Wellie boots.
We'd lie on the floor,
Stuck like glue,
On Sundays watch Ed's Big Shoe.
We didn't know the sun had left,
Our eyes were on the TV set.
The Cleaver boys still got dessert,
Though leaving green beans on their plate,
Left ice-cream and sweet chocolate cake.
We'd stare confused, yet salivate;
Such treats and food we'd never waste.
The Douglas boys had single beds,
En suites, bathrobes,
Hair on their heads;
Pillows and open windows,
And locks on doors,
They weren't co-ed.
We slept, at least, two to a bed,
Four to a room, two bedspreads.
We slept on mattresses with stinging springs,
Torn and traced with stale *****.
In the hot and humid summer,
In bathing suits
We'd swim in slumber.
Our small window couldn't open,
We roasted in our four walled oven.
We watched Lassie and Gomer Pyle,
Green Acres' Arnold had us beguiled.
We didn't get Father Knows Best,
His gentleness raised our regrets.
Lucy and Ricky, an odd couple,
Were always getting into trouble,
Like Fred and best bud, Barney Rubble.
Were these the models to emulate,
To blend in North of the United States?
These families had open conversations,
Shared their thoughts without hesitation.
Mine were full of consternation,
And alien, like My Favourite Martian.
We grew in a foreign land,
Beached like the cast on Gilligan.
Surely, we were Lost in Space,
Separate from the human race.
No gyroscope to set direction,
To separate fact from fiction.
We weren't stupid,
We were astute;
We weren't the ones on our TV.
We were a singular family.
We numbered ten at the start,
Then aged and drifted far apart;
We can't gather to watch TV,
As we were once wont to be.
But I remember Ernest T.,
Throwing rocks to win Charlene,
And arrested by Sheriff Andy.
We laughed at all the silly doings
Of Barney, and Thelma Lou's wooings.
I send e-mails and textual banter,
(One brother still likes writing letters),
Reminding me of our early days,
How TV censured our innocent ways.
We never were small screen.
We emigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1957. A brave new world.