I don’t know what happened. Somewhere between my senior year in high school and today a few words got lost. I can’t seem to find them.
What happened to the Misters and the Mrs.? Today, I hear kids who are, as they say “still wet behind the ears,” calling people my age by their first name.
When I was growing up, I knew Mr. Reeves, Mr. Tillotson, Mr. Ed. Mr. Bill. and then there was Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Moak, Mrs. Jones, etc.
Do you get my drift?
My father-in-law died fifteen years ago, to me, he’s still Mr. Ray. I could only call him Bill behind his back, when I was talking to my wife. Up front and center, you can bet next week’s pay check, it was Mr. Ray. And, my two brothers-in-law also called him Mister Ray. Our mother in law was Mrs. Ray.
I grew up in small town America. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knew EVERYONE. I could not go down the street without seeing Mr. East, Mr. Lofton, Mr. Smith, Mr. Newman. On Sunday, it was “Hello Mrs. Foster. Hello Mrs. Smith, Hello Mrs. Britt, Hello Mrs. Case. We had a whole lot of Smiths, Britts and Cases in our town.
I graduated from high school and all those people were still Mister and Mrs. I can promise you, everyone at our high school still says Mr. Roach. He was our principal and, even though he’s been dead for years, we still call him Mr. Roach, we guys wear out shirt tails inside our pants, we wear belts and we don’t walk on the grass.
We’re a funny looking bunch when we have high school reunions.
I went off to college, then worked in the big city. In 1988, I moved back home. I’d been gone for twenty years. Those Misters and Mrs. were a bit older, but they were still Mister and Mrs. in my book. Even when they started dying off, I heard about Mister. Jones’ being bad off, we talked about when Mrs. Reeves died. I went to Mister Smith’s funeral and Mrs. Britt’s viewing.
It shocked me to hear someone my age refer to them as Ed, Bill, James, Will, John or Margaret, Betty, Mary or Catherine. They were still Mister and Mrs. to me.
Now that I’m one of those grownups, the youngsters call me Mike. Only one or two say Mister when they want to get my attention.
I taught my grand daughters to call me Grandpa. I like that name.
I still use the words Mister and Mrs. a lot. I have a friend who is a retired Navy Commander. I respect him a lot, for his service and for the man he is. He’s Mister Joe in my book.
Mrs. Betty Ann and Mrs. DeeDee, well, they’ll always be Mrs. to me.
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