Bullwinkle lived up the street from me. Actually Bill Scott, co-creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, lived up the street. Bill voiced Bullwinkle. He lived with his family. We didn’t know them well. Only as an adult did I realize that Bill was Bullwinkle.
My father feared and hated Communism and Socialism. He feared and hated Jews and Blacks and Catholics. He feared and hated other people too.
The Scott’s were Jews. My parents taught me that that all Jewish kids were spoiled. They were spoiled because all Jewish parents thought their own kids might be the Messiah. They spoiled their children because of that. I wondered if they spoiled their daughters too because girls could never be the Messiah. God, and Jesus and Santa Claus and the President were all men. Only men could have power. The Messiah could have power so I wondered if Jewish parents spoiled their daughters too. My parents thought that was foolish because Jesus was the Messiah and Jewish people were 2000 years behind. Jews also tried to cheat you any time they could. I knew that because when someone tried to cheat my Dad he said they tried to "Jew him down."
We had monkey bars at my school. There was asphalt underneath the monkey bars. When you fell, you fell onto the asphalt. It hurt. I fell a lot. I didn’t like the monkey bars. Mike Silvershire was a Jew. He told me so one day when we were watching other kids fall off the monkey bars. We decided to climb on the monkey bars even though I knew I might fall. On the monkey bars I called Mike a "dirty Jew". I had heard that some place. Mike got very serious when I said that. He told me that it hurt him to be called a dirty Jew. I felt a yucky feeling in my chest. I liked Mike. I never called him that again. I was seven.
The Scott’s had two sons. One was about my age. One time the younger Scott drank some poison. The fire department came and pumped his stomach. That was the first I heard of pumping stomachs. I was interested. My mother told that he drank it because he was spoiled because he was a Jew and might be the Messiah. I think she thought he was testing his divinity. We didn’t know the Scott’s very well. But then we didn’t know anybody very well.
One time there was a kind of a town meeting at my church. It had to do with Communism in some way. One of the people at the meeting was Bill Scott. My Dad went to the meeting and said things that made him feel proud of himself. The things my Dad said made Mr. Scott look foolish or ill informed. Bill Scott was a Communist. My Dad told me that. My brother told me that. Maybe he was. My sixth grade teacher didn’t like the word Americanism because it reminded her of Communism and she hated Communism. She taught me how to hide under my desk if an atomic bomb came. On November 22, 1963 she told us that the enemies of our country had killed John Kennedy. When someone made a mistake in class she told them they had pulled a boner. There was a story in my town that a couple of Germans had run a secret spy radio to help the Germans during World War II. They were caught and tried for treason. They did the broadcast because it was a political thing. They were tried because it was a political thing. So far as my family was concerned, Bill Scott was a Communist and a Jew and we should hate him and have nothing to do with him. Everything Communists do is a boner. It's a political thing.
My parents grew up in dust bowl-depression in Kansas. They were poor. Bill drove a Corvette. Corvettes are fancy and rich and fancy-rich things are bad. People who have fancy-rich things are bad. Simple things and simple people are good. Fords and Chevy’s (except for Corvettes) are good. Used cars are good. Expensive things are bad. Corvettes are too expensive and too fancy and too new. Besides, my Dad told me that one time a Corvette drove under a truck and burned up and killed a man near my house. It was because Corvettes are not made of metal. My Dad hated Bill because he was a Communist Jew who drove a Corvette that wasn’t made of metal. Once in every long, long time it snowed where we lived. One time it snowed and Bill Scott couldn’t get his corvette out of his steep driveway. My father acted like it was a personal victory when he got his Volkswagen out of our driveway. Bill was a rich fancy Jew Communist, but he was stupid. It was a personal thing.
The Scott’s always had better candy at Halloween. I didn’t care if he was a Communist Jew with a Corvette. I liked the candy. That was a personal thing too.
Every afternoon I watched Rocky and Bullwinkle. It had foolish Communist spies in it. The show didn’t say that Bill Scott was a Communist and a Jew who I should hate. I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was my favorite show. My parents didn't know that Bill Scott was Bullwinkle.
Henry Fonda was one of my father’s favorites. So was Katharine Hepburn. Henry fought in the war and was a real man. My father liked him for the movie Mister Roberts. It was about the Navy. My Dad was in the Navy. Mr. Roberts had courage to do the right thing when bad people were doing wrong things. He had the courage to throw a potted plant overboard of a Navy ship. My father admired courage. He wanted to have courage. Jane Fonda is Henry’s daughter. She visited Hanoi in 1972. It was a political thing. She wanted America to leave the Communist North Vietnamese people alone and end the war. Some people were really mad at her. My father was one of some people. He thought she committed treason because we were at war with North Viet Nam. That led to a lot of pointless talk about the fact that the war in Viet Nam was not a declared war so it was not technically-legally an act of treason. That was silly nonsense. She did what she did. It meant what it meant. It was a political thing. My father thought and felt what he thought and felt. It was a personal thing. Never talk about political things like they are political things if they are really personal things. That is a boner.
1981 there was a movie called on Golden Pond. It stared Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda. It was about getting older. My father was 65 that year. It was a lovely movie. My father wouldn’t go see it because Jane Fonda was in it. She was a Communist and a traitor and he hated her. He didn’t want her to get any of his money. He deprived himself of a lovely movie because Jane Fonda was a Communist and a traitor. Jane didn’t notice that she didn’t get any of my father’s money. Neither did Henry or Katharine. None of them ever called up and said, "Hey, you cheap so and so, you didn’t give us any of your money."
In 1940 Henry Fonda made a movie called Grapes of Wrath. It was about bad Capitalism and good Socialism and good Socialist government. There were old trucks from dust bowl depression Oklahoma in it. There were no Corvettes in it. It was about how money is evil and people and integrity and families are good. Henry Fonda played a man name Tom Joad. He was a Socialist and an ex con and the hero. He was mad and fought the people who hurt other people to make money. Henry Fonda was blacklisted in Hollywood because he didn’t want to cooperate with the House un-American Activities Committee. The House un-American Activities Committee was a political thing and a boner.
I could tell my father about Henry Fonda and how much I liked Rocky and Bullwinkle. But the point is this. My father made is life small and full of hate and resentment so that he could feel safe. He did those things because he was scared and trying not to feel scared. He never told me so I don’t know how he got scared. I think he got scared when he was little. I think he got scared before the dust bowl depression hit Kansas. I could tell him that Henry Fonda was probably a Socialist or at least sympathetic to Socialists. That might hurt him and make me feel proud like he felt when he beat Bill Scott up with his words. But that would only be a kind of violence against him. It would only hurt him. It wouldn’t help him to make his world bigger or kinder. It would not help him feel safer. Now it could only make his world a poorer place. And it wouldn’t help me. It would only make me feel falsely proud because I could beat him up with my words. It would help me to be more arrogant. I think that is a bad idea. So I won’t tell him about Henry Fonda or Bullwinkle. Sometimes it is enough to know the truth yourself and tell no one else. That is a kind of non-violence. I like this kind of non-violence. It is not a political thing. It is not a boner. It is a human thing. It is a personal thing.