My Mother Told Me That I Said, At Three Years Old:
“He No More Good”
Maybe I did, but there’s a good chance I didn’t. C’mon, give me a break, I was only three years old. My mother was very good at blaming me for everything taking place around our apartment. The fact was, I overheard her having a private conversation with one of my aunts. Mom was specifically describing me as being a troublemaker. My mother was telling Aunt Hannah how I repeated everything I heard on the radio.
My aunt, upon hearing my mom doing her rant about me, became very indignant. “Your kid is only four years old. None of my kids can do that, and they’re all much older than him.” And my mom instantly popped up with, “And none of them have his brain power.” “Come to think of it – neither does your husband”, she blurted. With that, Aunt Hannah stomped out and down the five floors to the street of our Brownsville, Brooklyn tenement building.
Used to be
While a depression was going on
Way back then
Men were men
All standing “on” line
Waiting all day for a job
Very hard to find
Trying to remember when
And then I began listening to our little radio
A favorite of mine was “Uncle Don”
I remember Ticonderoga
About pencils that had the same name
‘Cause they had a very cute jingle
No TV, just on radio, they’d all be singing:
Have claimed their name to fame
A fine American pencil
With a fine American name
(Little da harv had everything on Uncle Don’s show memorized, including each and every one of the commercials.)
Deep down in her heart, I truly think my Aunt Hannah really loved me. It was probably my mother who bore responsibility for causing all my aunts and uncles to show dislike for me, her little angel. My mother made it a point to tell the world how strong of a bloodline she had passed on to her little son, the genius. “And he’s only three”, she told anyone and everyone. (By then I might have already become five. My mother figured it was a better story if I remained only three.)
A Mishmash of Babbled Memories
One day I broke the point
Of my father’s favorite pencil
No pencil sharpener
My little mind began to rush
What is going to happen to me now
My mother didn’t trust me
Even though I was a little angel,
She still didn’t trust me
I was only 3½, maybe four
I had taken the pencil from my father’s drawer
My mom was a whistleblower
“Wait until your father gets home”
She bellowed in my face!
“Uncle Don” came on the radio
“All you kids, learn how to read and write”, he said!
Dad came through the door
Mom blew the whistle with delight!
Instinctively I said, without hesitation, “Uncle Don told me to do it”!!
Dad picked me up
Not to worry, he handed me another pencil.
“Better he learns how to write”, dad said with a big smile.
To that mom replied, “He’s such a little actor”.
What a great beginning to the divinity of Show Biz, don’t you think? Let’s see now; I began waiting “on” line when I was three years old. I guess my mother was right, maybe my aunt Hannah was as well. Perhaps there is a difference between being in line, or standing on one!
That night, as my dad rubbed my back and sang to me as I fell asleep—he reminded me about it in much later years—he whispered, “Real men don’t cry”. I learned through the years that my dad really didn’t mean it. On the day he dropped me off at the Union Station here in Los Angeles, I saw my father cry for the very first time in my life. I was on my way to basic training and then on to Korea; I had joined the United States Army.
We were apart for some seventeen months. Upon return, we both shed a tear or two together. The fact is real men do cry. Some even learn to read and write at a very early age. What helps to keep me thinking like a much younger person might endeavor to do, is my daily faculty for reading and writing each day.
“Uncle Don was a children’s radio program that aired on WOR radio from 1928 to 1947. The host was Uncle Don Carney, a former vaudeville performer.” His most appreciated listener was a very young actor named Harvey Kalmenson. There were rumors going around Newburgh, New York (a town in upstate New York we had moved to when I was four) that I had changed my name to “da harv”. Not true. I didn’t become “da harv” until I visited Chicago after meeting Cathy, much, much later on in my life.
About Kids In General
A point from da harv: As a teacher and casting director, I have personally had the pleasure of being in close contact with many children with beginnings from all over this planet of ours. From meager households to the God-gifted environments of those endowed with overwhelming wealth.
I’ve personally found a pattern towards gaining great responsiveness, whether they be white-collar or blue, from children from all walks of life. Certainly, there are kids who are outright genuinely gifted in learning. In many ways, all children have many things in common, gifted or not.
Both my mom and dad loved reading to us kids; and along with singing, it managed to help us cultivate a worldly form of responsiveness and learning. Intellect, you might say! The point is, kids can translate being read to, and or being sung to, into receiving love. As clearly stated as I can possibly make it, reading and singing will almost always stimulate the very best a child has to offer.
Laughter has been and always will be a factor created during any form of cultivation for children and adults as well. Who we are today, where we were yesterday, and what we strive for on the morrow of life is what our Kalmenson & Kalmenson Method is all about. That isn’t to say a past personal experience, of grief or misjudgment, couldn’t also prove to serve you well as your future unfolds, becoming the present life you lead.
Many of the world’s greatest minds were anointed with scars they carried with great pride of resolve, forever… Each of life’s indifferences towards you is not yours to hold tightly. Only what each individual seeks may ever be grasped, shared, or held…if only momentarily.