Sunday, October 27, 2013

Where the Music Comes From

While the Robertsons have many, many athletes, Hermione's and Prudence's "Superior" piano rating at state music festival did not come from that side of the family.  Orville cannot credit the Robertsons for his 1st chair trumpet seat at state band or his "Superior" trumpet score at state music festival.  Nor can Petunia or Eglantine cite Robertson genes for their singing excellence that made it possible for them to be included in the audition singing groups in school.

Prudence in an early performance
I first remember Dad singing when he began coming to our church after he was baptized. He could never seem to find the right note.  Mom said Dad's singing difficulties were because there was no music in his home when he was growing up.  Once, I asked Dad about his parents and music.  He told me his mother couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but his Dad played the violin for dances.  Mom later confided that Grandpa was a horrible violin player and just scratched the thing back and forth, more like a rhythm instrument.

The music in the family was passed down through the Prices, typical Welshmen.  Both Grandpa Price and Uncle Kevin have beautiful bass voices, even without ever having had benefit of singing lessons.  Of course, Grandma Latour is a master at both the piano and the organ, playing for church and for many other events.  I don't know if the Thorpes are Welsh or not, but if musical talent is an indicator of Welsh ancestry, she should be. Grandma is loaded with talent.

The Hansens and Millers, Mom's family, were also very musical.  Mom mentioned having a cousin sing in the Tabernacle Choir. Mom's mother, Annie Margaret Hansen recalled hearing her mother and older sister, both born in Denmark, sing "their music" in their own language.  Annie Margaret thought it was beautiful.

Hermione on stage
I think Mom was correct when she said Dad's difficulty with music, some of it anyway,  was due to no music in his home because over the years at church he improved enough that he could find the right notes half of the time or more. Despite the fact that Dad was no musician, he loved music and appreciated hearing others play and perform.  He recalled walking up to the cabin of a sheepherder when his family lived at York so that he could listen to a symphony on the man's radio.  Dad was a trooper about attending my band and choral performances.  Still, being a Robertson, I know he preferred my track meets.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Athletic Prowess

horseback riding: another athletic event
Petunia at volleyball match.  If the coach had been more experienced this team would have won state.
Eglantine: runner extraordinaire
One of my cousins must have been a great high hurdler in high school.   I surmise this because I discovered some old movie footage of this cousin running the high hurdles mixed in with my Dad's old home movies.  Another cousin was a pretty good distance runner. I remember seeing him run at the JayCee Relays (now Skor Dekam relay).  Petunia was a very good basketball player and was offered a scholarship to play volleyball.  Eglantine was a superb 400 runner, 800 runner, 200 sprinter, and high jumper.  The dilatory track coach decided to enter Eglantine in the 200 and the high jump during some of Eglantine's last meets during her Senior year.  I'm guessing when the coach entered Eglantine in the 200 meter race at Divisional track meet and the high jump, she didn't expect her to walk off with two divisional metals in the events( as well as the medals in the 400 and numerous relays she usually participated in) and proceed to the state track meet.

Orville with cronies at the state soccer championship- they won

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Orville was not a whit behind his sisters.  He is the only goalie we are aware of who didn't play arsenal soccer (pay and play soccer league for kids) but still made first string goalie for the high school team. If Orville had practiced tennis, I'm guessing he would have been a contender at state since he nearly made it to state without practicing in the off season.  Orville decided to keep school tennis as something he did just for fun. In college, Orville made goalie for the BYU team.

This post is getting too long to mention my nieces and nephews who have been star basketball and volleyball players, some receiving impressive scholarships.

But these aren't the first athletes in the family.  My Dad played on the last Helena High School team that won the state football championship.  Despite being extremely nearsighted and having no glasses, Dad had a heck of a shot in basketball.  How he developed his shot without being able to see the basket clearly still puzzles me.

Sid Robertson - football  and basketball player and sports fan

The first athlete of the tribe that we know about was O.D. Robertson.  Believe it or not, foot races were an athletic competition that often took place in Montana during the early days.  And O.D. was a good sprinter.  Family lore has it that he practiced with weights on his feet.

Early Montanans not only watched sprinting competitions, they bet on them.  According the Dad, a big name sprinter came from out of town for one competition.  The sprinter and his backers were none too pleased when my grandfather walked off with first place honors.
O.D. Robertson, the first sprinter we know of in the family.

When competitors were scarce, my grandfather faced off with horses. They would pit a horse against a sprinter for 200 yards.  According to grandpa, this was kind of silly because a sprinter could always beat a horse for a two hundred yard race.  It took the horse that long to approach a fast speed.  But if people wanted to part with their money so willingly, my grandfather would bet with them.

Since rodeo is a sport, it make sense to mention that O.D. was a top roper.  This was skill he honed punching cows in the Judith Basin.  Dad recalled O.D. once approaching the barn with a fractious horse. The barn door was shut.  Keeping his hand on the bridle  O.A. threw a lariat to the wood door fastener and opened the door, leading the horse inside.

It's fun to see talents passed down through the generations.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Terrible Twos

If you are all about your image as a parent, put your children up for adoption when they approach their second birthday.    They don’t call ‘em the terrible twos for nothing.   Suddenly your darling, sweet baby decides he has a mind of his own.  He learns how to scowl, finds the scissors and cuts his hair, and his favorite word is, “no.”   The next year is filled with tantrums and embarrassing scenes in the grocery store, at church, and anywhere else you go.

One thing I will say for two-year-olds, they are supremely indifferent to their image, and yours.  I remember Hermione sitting on my lap at a piano recital and wetting her pants.  Thanks Hermione.  Orville had the longest terrible twos in the history of the world.  Orville was opposed to leaving any place we went.  For a while, it seemed entirely possible that I would be hauling him to the car, kicking and screaming, until he turned eighteen. 

Two-year-olds have their pet peeves.  Petunia, miffed about the birth of Prudence, decided to bite her.  She also expressed herself artistically by drawing a six foot mural on the walls of my parents’ home.  Petunia said it was an alligator.  Prudence severely annoyed about the birth of the twins, took scissors to a Quaker lace table cloth my mother had given me. 

Prudence, as well as Petunia, had an artistic streak, but Prudence liked scissors instead of crayons.  She cut her hair more than once in a place that could not be fixed with a new haircut.  (You see, Prudence, your children come by their fascination with scissors honestly.)  Eglantine, took a passive aggressive tack.  She put crayons in a load of my underwear in the dryer.   And as we wheeled the shopping cart through the grocery store, she called to every man she saw, “Hi, Daddy!”  It sounds darling, I know, but it was extremely embarrassing.

Two year olds like to do things for themselves.   They insist on doing things they are much too young to do like: tying their shoes, cutting up their own meat, and driving the car (Yes, Petunia.  I mean you.)  If you tie your two-year old's shoes, he melts down.  If you leave him to tie his own shoes, he melts down when he finds out he can’t do it.  Either way, you are in for a melt-down.

Two year old girls love to dress themselves, when they decide to wear clothes, that is.  More often than not, their garment of choice is a bathing suit, a leotard, or their birthday suit.  When two year girls opt for clothes, they love to dress themselves in a new outfit every fifteen minutes all day long.  Naturally, a two year old is much too young to fold clothes and put them away.  At the end of the day, the room looks like a hurricane hit, and you have to wade through a pile of cast off clothes trying to determine what should go in the wash and what should go in the drawer.  In the pile of clothes, you will usually find a half-eaten, moldy apple they clandestinely maneuvered out of the kitchen and under their bed.

When they dress themselves, two year old girls exhibit unique fashion sense.  I will never forget two-year old Hermione choosing to wear a size 8 dress belonging to her sister for a grocery shopping expedition to County Market .  The dress, six sizes too big, reached the floor. But Hermione fashioned a long necklace around her waist. After four kids, I just didn’t have time to mess around with what every child wanted to wear, so I let her wear it. Naturally, we ran into one of my long lost cousins at the store.  Then, there was the time Hermione decided to wear a pink crown and a huge, pink necklace to the doctor.  Fortunately, the doctor also had children.

Two year old boys often decide changing clothes is a waste of time.  They pick an outfit and decide to wear it for the rest of their lives.  And when you make them change clothes, you guessed it, a tantrum  ensues.  Yes, Orville, you.

From two-year-olds, I learned that tantrums aren’t the end of the world.  I learned that every parent goes through terrible twos (some kids have terrible threes instead) and empathizes. I learned to let unimportant things slide and enforce what was important, regardless of others’ opinions. I learned that tantrums weren't my fault, and to sit tight and ride the wave.  I decided that the opinion of a childless person, regarding my struggles with a two year old in the candy aisle of the grocery store, was as meaningless to me as my opinion on diesel engines is to a mechanic. I also realized God made two-year-olds so priceless and adorable so we could get through the terrible twos.