book reviews, celebrities, religion

Repost: Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention…

One last repost, since I posted reviews of her sisters’ books. This is the first book about the Boone family I ever read. I originally read Cherry’s book in 1989 or so, but I reviewed it for Epinions in 2003 and updated the review in 2011. It appears here as/is.

For some reason, I recently decided to re-read Cherry Boone O’Neill’s 1983 memoir Starving For Attention after reading it for a high school paper I wrote when I was seventeen. It was interesting to revisit this book again after all these years, mainly because I have a totally different perspective now. Right now, I’m an adult and, in a manner of speaking, I’m a mental health professional. Back then, I was a high school student who was interested in eating disorders and had to write a book report.

Cherry Boone O’Neill is Pat and Shirley Boone’s oldest daughter. She has three younger sisters– her mom had four daughters in three and a half years! When Cherry was born in Denton, Texas in 1954, Pat Boone was just beginning his meteoric rise into teen idol status and attending college. Fourteen months after Cherry’s birth, her sister Lindy arrived, born in New York City. In 1956, Debby Boone was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. Then in 1958, youngest sister Laury was born. In the midst of his burgeoning career and the quick expansion of his family, Pat Boone managed to graduate from Columbia University, earning a degree in English. It wasn’t long before Hollywood beckoned and the young family moved to California.

Cherry writes that she was always eager to please, and having grown up with very strict parents who were strong Christians, she was especially motivated to toe the line. She also felt very responsible for watching her sisters. Debby was the most rebellious of the four sisters, while Laury was a mischief maker. Cherry tried hard to bring home straight A’s. The girls were also incorporated into Pat Boone’s act, especially since he had a TV series, the “Chevy Showroom”. The girls made their television debut on the last episode of that program. As they grew up, they made albums, went on tours, and appeared as guests on other television shows like the “Flip Wilson Show”, “Merv Griffin”, and “Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour”.

When she was a teenager, Cherry began to have emotional problems brought on by school pressures. Rather than face classes that gave her trouble, she would fake illnesses and stay home. While she was at home, she would eat high calorie foods and watch TV. Before too long, she realized she was gaining weight– so much that her school uniforms no longer fit her. Horrified, she made the decision to control her body. She put herself on a sensible diet and ordered a couple of gadgets that were advertised in the back of teen magazines. One gadget was a pair of “Bermuda shorts” that hooked up to the vacuum cleaner– it was supposed to suck the fat off of her body. Another was a pair of stretchy leg wraps that made her legs look thinner. She started exercising more. Gradually, the diet turned into anorexia.

At first, Cherry’s family was proud of her. Then they became concerned. Cherry writes about an incident that occurred one Christmas after Cherry skipped dinner and then binged and purged when she thought everyone was asleep.

My distended stomach ached– I must have looked six months pregnant. My food frenzy began to slow down when I could no longer walk without bending over. Did I get everything I wanted? I guess so– besides I can’t eat any more.

But wait! Some chocolates! I’ll chew on those on the way upstairs with a glass of punch.

Once in my bathroom, I completed the now familiar ritual I’d begun this time with that first bite of turkey. I forced my finger down my throat. After several gut-wrenching heaves I regurgitated as much as I could until nothing but small amounts of bile tinged pink with blood, emerged. I wiped off the toilet and began rinsing my beet-red face when I was startled by a hard knock on the door.

“Cherry, what’s going on?” My father’s voice was stern.

My heart pounded. I’m just going to the bathroom. Why?” I quickly straightened my hair, straightened air freshener, turned off the water.

“Open the door, Cherry. You know the rules about no locked doors in this house.”

“You and Mommy lock your door sometimes,” I answered back.

“Open this door, Cherry! Right now!”

“All right! All right! Just let me get my robe on,” I stalled, trying to open the window for fresh air. Then I calmly unlocked and opened the door.

“It doesn’t take you fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, Cherry.”

“I haven’t been in here fifteen minutes,” I lied.

“I was outside after taking a sauna and I looked up and saw your bathroom light on. I waited, listened, and I know I heard you vomiting.” His eyes glistened with anger.

“I did not! I swear! I was just going to the bathroom and washing my face!”

“Look here, Cherry,” he said, gripping my arm and pulling me back into the bathroom. “Look at yourself! Your face is red, your eyes are bloodshot, the room stinks and you’re telling me you didn’t throw up?”

“I didn’t, Daddy! I promise I didn’t! I was going to the bathroom. I’ve been constipated so my face gets red. Honest!” My voice quavered with fear. Tears welled up in my eyes.

“Cherry, I don’t understand this. I know you’re lying, but it’s late and I have to get up early. We should both be in bed– it’s been a busy day. But don’t think we aren’t going to discuss this when I get back from Chicago! Now go to bed, and don’t you get up again– for any reason!”

Suddenly he was gone and I stood alone in front of the mirror. I stared at my gaunt face, then burst into tears. 

Stories of family squabbles like this one pepper the book, first with Cherry’s parents and next with her husband, Dan O’Neill. Cherry’s family was very close and loving, but some might say they were overly strict– to the point of being smothering. Corporal punishment was employed on the girls into their late teens.

Cherry did do some shocking things while she was ill. One night, after enjoying a nice dinner with her fiance, she promised him she would go straight to bed. But as she walked through the kitchen, she noticed that there were a couple of lamb chops in the dog’s dish. Cherry loved lamb chops, so without thinking, she got down on her hands and knees and started eating them, not realizing that her fiance was at the window, watching her… until he started rapping on the window!

I enjoyed reading this book because it has the elements of a story that I enjoy– biography (or autobiography as the case may be), a fair amount of drama, some trivia and anecdotal information, and a touch of comedy. However, there isn’t a whole lot of medical information in this book and the little bit you do find is quite dated. After all, Cherry suffered from anorexia back in the 70s, when many doctors had never even heard of the disorder. If you want to read an autobiographical story about anorexia with more up-to-date information, you would do better to read Marya Hornbacher’s Wasted. Even that book is a little dated– the author was treated in the late 80s and early 90s and treatments have changed drastically since then.

This book led me to believe that Cherry was never hospitalized for long for her anorexia (there is some brief detail provided about one hospital stay she completed as an adult). There are pictures included of her, however, when she was ill. One disturbing photo shows her at 82 pounds, right before her first appointment with Dr. Raymond Vath, a psychiatrist in Seattle who is credited with helping her get past anorexia. She looks positively skeletal in that picture, as well as in a couple of others that show her at 88 pounds, eating at a picnic. There are a couple of other pictures that show her performing with her family– the illness is not as easy to discern in those.

Starving for Attention has been out of print for some time and may be hard to find. You may be able to locate it at a public library or on http://www.half.com. I think it’s a worthwhile read, although I don’t believe it’s the only book you should read if you want to learn about eating disorders. By the way, Cherry and her husband had given birth to their first child, Brittany, at the end of this book. As of now, Cherry has had five children, proving that those with eating disorders can eventually go on to have children.

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book reviews, celebrities

Repost: My review of Debby Boone’s life story at age 25, So Far…

I wrote this review for Epinions.com in 2011. It appears as/is. This was another very popular review, despite the fact that Debby Boone’s life story was published in 1981!  I think people are interested in this review because Debby wrote about Pat Boone’s penchant for spankings.  People are dirty.  😉 Some people also don’t agree with my assessment of Debby Boone circa 1981. Remember folks, it’s just my opinion.

Debby Boone’s big hit!

The other night, I posted a news article on Facebook about 50s singer Pat Boone, who is apparently a tried and true Tea Partyer.  Boone was in the news for saying that President Obama was not really born in Hawaii.  He claimed that he went to Kenya and “everybody there” told him that Obama was born there.  Therefore, in Pat Boone’s mind, Barack Obama is not eligible to be our president.  The response to my link about Pat Boone got lively and that inspired me to re-read his daughter Debby Boone’s 1981 book, So Far.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Pat Boone’s offspring.  When I was in high school, I read Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention, because I was learning about eating disorders.  Cherry Boone O’Neill, Pat Boone’s eldest daughter, had suffered from anorexia nervosa in the 1970s.  At the time, I didn’t know that much about 50s sex symbol/teen idol Pat Boone.  I had heard of his daughter, Debby Boone, who had sung the smash hit “You Light Up My Life”.  But other than that, the Boone family was a mystery to me.

I learned a bit about Pat Boone’s family from reading Cherry’s book.  I knew that Pat Boone was a very strict disciplinarian and that he and his wife, Shirley, had raised their four daughters to be obedient servants of the Lord.  In her book, Cherry had explained that she and her sisters had grown up in luxury, but their days were centered around being perfect Christians.  Besides being heavily involved in church activities, Pat Boone’s girls had inherited formidable musical talent and performed quite a bit.  I wanted to learn more about them, so a few years ago, I picked up Debby Boone’s 1981 book, So Far, for the first time.  Now that I’ve read it a second time, I think I can probably put this book back on the shelf for good.

Debby Boone’s life story circa 1981

At the very beginning of her book, Debby Boone writes that writing has never come easily for her.  She doesn’t know why she’s writing her life story.  She explains that she had originally been skeptical that writing her story would be worthwhile.  Her mind changed when she started getting fan mail from people.  Evidently, the mail got to be too much for her to answer, so she figured it would be easier to write a book.  Of course, it’s not lost on me that those who wanted to get Debby’s response would be paying hard earned money for the book.  But nevertheless, I guess her fans appreciated it.

Bear in mind that Debby Boone was born in 1956.  In 1981, she was just 25 years old.  Yes, she had done some exciting things in her then brief lifetime.  She had grown up in California with a famous father.  She later became very famous herself, when she released the radio version of “You Light Up My Life”, a song that was originally recorded by the late session singer Kasey Cisyk for the film by the same name.  Debby Boone’s version of the song was huge and it made her a household name.  So, I imagine in 1981, Debby Boone was still pretty famous.  Why shouldn’t she have written a book while people still remembered her name? Well, I’ll tell you why.

There’s just not much to this book

Debby Boone freely admits that she’s not much of a writer.  She admits that as a child, she often handed in work that was done by her three sisters, rather than her.  At age 25, she hadn’t really lived yet, although she apparently did spend a lot of time turned over her father’s knee. 

Debby Boone was a bad girl

Evidently, Pat Boone spanked his daughters even after they had reached the legal age of majority.  Debby Boone frequently describes behavior that, frankly, probably warranted punishment.  In fact, there are a few times in the book that she basically admits to being a manipulative bully to her sisters and kids she knew in school.  She seems almost a little proud of her brattiness, as she describes how she got some poor little boy in trouble by falsely accusing him of swearing at her.  Her tone is almost gleeful as she relates how she conned her younger sister, Laury, into riding her bike naked around the front yard and how, more than once, Laury took one of Pat Boone’s legendary beatings in her stead because Laury had a tender heart and hated to see her sisters cry.

Speaking of beatings

Pat Boone was spanked until he was seventeen years old.  Apparently, Pat Boone’s mother had a way with a strap and would make his bum smart so much that he couldn’t sit down for awhile.  Apparently not to be undone by his mother, Pat Boone was also fond of using implements to discipline his daughters.  Debby Boone writes that she and her sisters would often compare “war wounds”.  Pat Boone would use a slipper, a belt, or any other tool that stung to make his spankings really hurt.  Consequently, after one of Pat Boone’s spankings, his daughters were often left with bruises. 

In a chapter entitled “The Last Spanking”, Debby explains that when she was 19 years old, her father got angry with her for taking too long to get a snack from a hotel vending machine.  Pat Boone caught Debby in the hotel lobby, talking to one of the musicians in their band.  It was late and she had been gone about twenty minutes.  He was “worried”, so he grabbed her, marched her upstairs, and gave her “what for”.  He meant to give her a spanking, but in the course of their fight, had accidently hit her in the head.  The blow caused a goose egg and the hapless musician Debby had been talking to in the lobby called Pat on the phone to cool him down.  I guess it was enough time for Pat to come to his senses.  Supposedly, he never spanked Debby again.

The B-I-B-L-E… 

Debby Boone writes of her experiences helping children with autism, visiting sick children in hospitals, and working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM– pronounced “why wham”).  She seems proud of her work with children, given that her older sister, Cherry, and Cherry’s husband, Dan, also worked with YWAM and no doubt had a lot to do with her choice to work with that organization.

She also writes of how she became Mrs. Gabriel Ferrer.  For those who don’t know, Debby Boone’s mother-in-law is the late Rosemary Clooney.  That means she is related by marriage to George Clooney.  Of course, George Clooney was a nobody in 1981. 

As they were with everything else in their daughters’ lives, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Boone were heavily involved in Debby’s romances.  Gabriel Ferrer had to ask for Debby’s hand in marriage.  And it was a good thing he was a devoted Christian.  Apparently, Pat Boone would not have stood for anyone but a “believer” to marry his daughters.

An abrupt ending

So Far comes to a screeching halt when Debby and Gabriel Ferrer get married.  A year after the wedding, they had their first child, Jordan.  These details are at the very end of the book, which to me, seems odd.  It’s almost as if the major life events of getting married and becoming a mother were almost an afterthought.

My thoughts

I think Debby Boone was very premature in writing her life story, even if she admits it was only “so far”.  I have a feeling she wrote this book for the money, which is, I guess, a valid enough reason to write it.  But she comes off as a bit smug and self-congratulatory in this book.  She reprints a couple of thank you letters she got from the mothers of sick kids she visited in the hospital.  She writes very little about her childhood.  Indeed, this book seems to be more about her life as a young adult than her life story.  And other than the fact that her dad employed corporal punishment, wouldn’t let his daughters date or wear makeup until they were 16, and took liberties with his daughters’ love lives and finances, she doesn’t reveal that much about her family.

I got a lot more out of Cherry Boone O’Neill’s book, Starving for Attention, which was a lot more interesting, better written, and much more complete.  Debby Boone does include some photos, but they are poorly edited and a couple of them were also in Cherry’s book.

Even if you are a Debby Boone fan, I’m not sure So Far is worth reading.  If you’re actually curious about what it was like to be Pat Boone’s daughter, I recommend Starving for Attention.  I think Cherry far outshone Debby in the book writing department, even if Debby will always be known for her one hit wonder.

Overall  

I don’t expect a lot of people are looking for this book anymore.   For good reason, it’s long out of print.  Plenty of copies are available on Amazon, again, for good reason.

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book reviews, celebrities, religion

Repost: Lindy Boone Michaelis’s book, Heaven Hears…

Here’s an as/is repost of my review of Linda Boone Michaelis’s book, Heaven Hears. Lindy Michaelis is Pat Boone’s second eldest daughter. I wrote this review for Epinions.com in 2013.

First thing’s first.  I am not a particularly religious person.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m an atheist, but my churchgoing days are long over and I’m not much into prayer.  I do, however, have sort of an obsession with Pat Boone and his family.  I read his eldest daughter Cherry’s book, Starving for Attention, when I was in high school.  I read his famous daughter Debby’s book, So Far, as an adult.  When I heard that his second oldest daughter, Lindy Boone Michaelis, had written her book, Heaven Hears: The True Story of What Happened When Pat Boone Asked The World to Pray for His Grandson’s Survival, I knew I had to read it.  So far, the only sister I haven’t read a book by is youngester daughter, Laury. 

Goodbye, charmed life…

Like her three sisters, Lindy Boone Michaelis grew up very privileged in Beverly Hills, California.  Her father, Pat Boone, was a very popular singer, author, actor, and television host in the 1950s and 60s and even today can be seen pitching products on infomercials.  Though Michaelis had her share of leaner times, she explains that she’d lived a charmed life.  Until one fateful day in 2001, Michaelis writes that she was almost embarrassed by how “trouble free” her life had been, even though her first marriage had failed.  Michaelis had married Doug Corbin, a good looking athlete she met at Pepperdine University, when she was still very young.  That marriage produced two children, Ryan and Jessica.  It ended after seven years.  Though she and her first husband, Doug, divorced, they remained cooperative and raised their two kids together.  Both remarried; Lindy married her husband, Mike Michaelis in 1985 and had another son named Tyler. 

All was well until a June day in 2001, when her adult son, Ryan, fell forty feet through a skylight.  Doctors did not expect Ryan to live.  Lindy and her husband and son had been vacationing in Spain when Lindy got a phone call from sister, Debby, telling her about Ryan’s horrific accident.  They rushed back to California to be at Ryan’s side.     

The power of prayer

It’s no secret that Pat Boone and his family are very religious.  When Ryan Corbin fell through that skylight, the whole family banded together and took to the airwaves to ask for prayers.  With help from Larry King, one of Pat Boone’s oldest friends, they took their message to the masses and the world responded.  Against all odds, Ryan Corbin began to recover.  He eventually came out of his coma and made huge strides toward reclaiming his life.

With Ryan’s recovery came other challenges.  Though Lindy Boone Michaelis and her husband are blessed with resources such as insurance and personal wealth, they soon found themselves struggling with financing Ryan’s care.  Michaelis explains what they did to take care of Ryan’s bills and how they formed Ryan’s Reach, a charitable organization dedicated to helping individuals with traumatic brain injuries and their families. 

Lindy and her sisters perform for a Ryan’s Reach benefit.

My thoughts

I mostly enjoyed reading Lindy Boone Michaelis’s book, Heaven Hears, which was ghost written by Susy Flory.  This book seems very personal, as if it’s coming straight from Lindy herself; Flory did a good job of co-writing this book and giving it Lindy’s voice.  This book does include some of Lindy Boone Michaelis’s history; it’s not really about Pat Boone or even Ryan Corbin, but rather it’s a story that comes from Lindy and is her perspective as a mother whose beloved firstborn was gravely injured.

What I like about this book is that Lindy is very honest and comes across as a very real and nice person.  For instance, she writes that she doesn’t swear.  She was raised by Pat and Shirley Boone and was taught not to cuss.  But she knows that other people swear and she doesn’t hold it against them.  And when her son, Ryan, started swearing because of his brain injury, she learned to adapt and understand.  I appreciated the way she explained how difficult that was for her.  She realized that he couldn’t help it.  Swearing was a way he could express himself; it was not the way he would have talked before he was hurt, but it was effective nonetheless and somehow miraculous, since he was never expected to live, let alone speak again.  I like that Lindy comes across as someone down to earth and normal.  Yes, she’s a Christian, but she’s not a goody two shoes. 

I also like the fact that Lindy Boone Michaelis is so devoted to her family, yet is very real about them.  Yes, she’s been divorced and a lot of Christians seem to judge her for that (if you read Amazon reviews, that is).  But no one is perfect.  I like that Lindy owns the fact that she’s made mistakes and can only keep trying, just like anyone can.  She’s a good mom and Ryan is lucky to have her… and the rest of his family.  Not everyone who suffers traumatic brain injuries is so lucky.  By the way, Lindy is very generous with positive comments about her husband and her ex husband, and even her ex’s wife, Victoria.  Apparently, they’ve all banded together for Ryan’s sake.  I wish all blended families could be so supportive and loving. 

Overall

Even though I’m not particularly religious, I liked Heaven Hears.  While I don’t know that this book would top the reading lists of people who aren’t into religion or prayer, I enjoyed reading about Ryan Corbin’s recovery and the way people around the world prayed for him.  I’m not sure prayer is the only reason he’s recovered as much as he has, but I have to agree that the mere fact that he’s alive and talking again is nothing short of miraculous.  It’s good to see that his family is using his accident to better the lives of others through Ryan’s Reach.

For more information: http://www.ryansreach.com.  

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book reviews

Reposted review of Pat Boone’s Twixt Twelve and Twenty

I have decided to migrate certain book reviews to my new blogging platform. Today’s reposted review was already reposted on my old blog on Blogspot. I had originally posted it on Epinions.com, which is now defunct. I see I linked it in an old post before I shut down the old blog. Since I write a lot about Pat Boone, I’m going to repost it here. Enjoy.

I have kind of an odd obsession with Pat Boone and his family. It started when I was a teenager and read a book written by his daughter, Cherry Boone O’Neill, who had suffered from anorexia nervosa for many years. Later, I read his daughter Debby’s book circa 1981, when she was 25 years old. Then, I read daughter Lindy Boone Michaelis’ recent book about her son Ryan Corbin’s traumatic brain injury. Having read all these books from the Boone family, I decided it was time for me to read Pat Boone’s 1958 classic, ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty

My copy of Boone’s book is a second printing, which was published in 1973. It has a new introduction, written for the teens of the 70s. I got quite the kick out of Boone’s chirpy foreword for the new generation. He writes on page 12:

“So pull up a chair. Turn down that Carole King, James Taylor, Seals and Croft, America, Chicago, or Elton John record– and let’s talk! We’ve a lot to say to each other!”

Really Pat? In the early 70s, did young folks really feel like you were the same role model you were in 1958? 

The book’s title is the same as one of Boone’s popular songs from 1959. In 1973, were kids listening to Pat Boone? Maybe if their parents were. I know in the 70s, Pat Boone was still doing a lot of touring with his family. His daughters were performing with him and it was four years before Debby Boone became a household name.

What this book is about…

This is a book of advice for teens written by Pat Boone. Written in quaint, 50s era prose, the then young Pat Boone, was at that time barely 24 years old and already the father of four girls, born in about three-and-a-half years. He had married his wife, Shirley, very young and they were dedicated Christians. At that time of his life, Pat Boone was a member of the Church of Christ. His book is liberally peppered with religious dogma and homespun tales of growing up. Pat Boone’s mother was apparently very much a proponent of corporal punishment, as was Pat himself. He writes on pages 30 and 31:

“I didn’t become a good Christian overnight. In fact, I got my last spanking when I was seventeen… It never mattered to Mama who started fights. She finished them with the sewing machine belt and both of us [Pat and his brother, Nick] leaning over the bathtub.”

Pat continues:

It had been a long time… since the last one and this time, neither of us cried. We were too old. That shattered Mama.”

Both Cherry and Debby, Pat Boone’s oldest and third daughters, have written about how Pat Boone spanked them until they were legal adults. In ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Boone makes it clear that he thinks spanking is the right way to discipline children. But as this book is for kids, not their parents, it seems odd that he would write so much about it. 

Aside from his ruminations about the virtues of a good spanking, Pat Boone also dispenses advice on being “a good Christian”, preparing for a happy marriage, dating, finding your life’s work, and making appropriate friends. He offers tidbits on what he finds attractive about his wife, Shirley, whom he claims is a very natural beauty who doesn’t swear. He also writes quite a lot about Rosemary, a cow he and his brother, Nick, took care of when they were growing up. Apparently, she supplied them each with the gallon of milk they drank each day. Having her was a “necessity”, as were all the other animals the Boones cared for; they were not “gentleman farmers”, you see.

My thoughts 

Frankly, I kind of got a kick out of reading this short book Pat Boone wrote for teenagers. It seeems pretty hopelessly dated today and I’m sure it would shock a lot of parents. Most kids would not be able to relate to Pat Boone, even though he was quite young when he penned this book. Even as a young man, he’s hopelessly “square”. Curiously, he did get letters from young admirers in the 1950s, some of which inspired the chapters in this book. I thought it was pretty funny when, on page 106, Boone writes:

Too strict parents either literally don’t remember their own youth at all, or seem to remember it too well with distaste and fear.

This is the same man who spanked his daughter, Debby, at age 19, because she took twenty minutes to buy candy from a hotel lobby vending machine. He also spanked his daughter, Cherry, for coming home later than expected. Since she was anorexic, there was little fat to cushion the blows and she was left with bruises. Boone also reportedly called his daughters’ makeup “war paint” and would make his daughters scrub it off if he caught them wearing it. But maybe when Pat Boone was 24, he was still somewhat “hip” and empathized with young folks more than he apparently did when his daughters became teenagers. 

Boone writes on page 107, “Do-as-I-say,-not-as I-do is poor bait for landing teen-agers.” And yet, based on books by his daughters, he didn’t exactly practice what he preached. 

Overall

I don’t think this book would be very relevant to today’s readers. It’s kind of fun to read if you’re my age or older, though. It’s a quick read and there are some pearls of wisdom that still resonate today, mainly the parts about personal hygiene. It’s a quaint book, valuable mainly for nostalgia purposes, but not really for the teens of today.

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silliness

When Bill turns into Pat Boone…

The other day, Retro Wifey on Facebook shared a photo of a small child in a baby carrier from days of old. I don’t know when the picture was taken, but my guess is that the baby in the photo is now at least as old as I am. When I look at what passed for safety in the 70s, and then compare it to the current day hysteria over child safety, I’m amazed anyone from the era prior to, say, 1990, ever grew old enough to reproduce. Nowadays, kids have to wear helmets, padding, and seatbelts for everything, on pain of investigation by child welfare authorities or the police if parents don’t comply.

A screenshot of Retro Wifey’s picture. It’s amazing what kids of old got away with…

I grew up with parents who were religious about wearing their seatbelts. However, they were not very strict about making me wear them. Why not? Mainly because I hated the damned things and would cry, complain, and generally drive my parents (especially my mom) crazy when they made me wear them. My dad was much stricter about making me wear seatbelts, but even he was inconsistent and usually only made me wear them when he was either in a control freak mood or wanted to punish me.

In 1988, Virginia adopted a mandatory seatbelt law for front seat passengers. It was not, and is still not, a very strict law. Enforcement was secondary, so you’d have to be doing something else illegal to get yourself stopped before police would levy a $25 fine on you for not buckling up. Over 30 years later, Virginia still has a lenient seatbelt law. Cars back then were also more lax about letting people choose for themselves if they wanted to make safety first. They didn’t have all the sensors and alarms they have now– just a five second reminder that buzzed when you turned the ignition. 1988 also happened to be the year I turned 16, and I remember being quite pissed that this oppressive law was passed the year I got my license.

It took a few more years before I became “good” about voluntarily wearing a seatbelt, even after it was the law. I’m short and busty, so they always seemed to hit me in the wrong places. Then, I met Bill… who is laid back about most things, except for when it comes to car safety. I often joke that I think seatbelts are for sissies, but if I don’t wear one, Bill turns into Pat Boone. On my old blog, I used to write about this phenomenon rather frequently, mainly because Alexis got the joke and we both thought it was funny. Alexis has always been my most consistent reader, so sometimes I cater to her. We have both read a lot about Pat Boone and his family, too— an odd thing, since Pat Boone was a sex symbol way before either of us would have found him remotely appealing or relatable. He was always OLD to me, and Alexis is about 22 years younger than I am. Turns out we both read books written by members of Boone’s family, or by Pat himself.

Pat Boone and his white spats will make you go splat if you misbehave on his watch.

I am at least old enough to remember Debby Boone and her 1977 hit song, “You Light Up My Life”, which was originally used in a film by the same name and sung by the late, obscure singer Kasey Cisyk. But I didn’t know who Pat Boone was until I heard him sing on a 1978 Lassie movie, which also featured songs by Debby. Then I remembered Robin Williams making jokes about him on Mork & Mindy, implying that he was strict and straight-laced.

When I was a senior in high school, I read Starving for Attention, a book written by Cherry Boone O’Neill, Pat Boone’s eldest daughter. I was taking a psychology class and had to read a book about a psychological disorder and report about it to my classmates. Cherry Boone O’Neill, who suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia for about ten years, was born in 1954 and happens to share the same birthday as Bill. She was a people pleaser and felt great pressure to make her parents proud. Boone often brought his four talented daughters with him on his tours, where he could keep an eye on them. Cherry felt pressure to be thin, in part, due to her father’s fame and her own show business career. So, she developed anorexia, which I’m sure also helped her feel like she regained some control over her overly supervised life as a young woman. Pat Boone was a notoriously strict father who believed very strongly in corporal punishment and laying down the law. He watched his daughters like a hawk and would not hesitate to discipline them for any infraction of his many rules.

In two of the three books written by his daughters that I’ve read, Pat Boone’s penchant for delivering painful spankings and being very strict is candidly noted. In both Debby’s and Cherry’s cases, the spankings continued until they were adults. They were particularly traumatic in Cherry’s case, since she was extremely underweight and had no padding to absorb Boone’s blows. Although Debby and Cherry have both written about their father’s spankings, in Cherry’s case, the bruises were more severe.

I would like to see Bill in this outfit… while he’s driving. Shit, he’s even wearing spats! I am ashamed to admit, I actually own Pat’s metal album. I had to have it because I wanted to review it. It’s not that bad, especially if you listen to it with a sense of humor.

The other day, when I saw that picture shared by Retro Wifey, I shared it and posted “seatbelts are for sissies”. A few of my friends posted about the good old days, when kids could lie in the back of a station wagon, completely unrestrained and unencumbered. My dad used to have a bright orange Volkswagen Westfalia with ugly green plaid interior. It was a 1977 model and he drove it for several years. It had a pop top, which was fun for camping in sweltering heat and getting multiple bug bites. I remember there was a bar across the ceiling when the top wasn’t popped up. I used to swing on it like a monkey as my dad drove down the interstate. Nobody cared. Nowadays, if a child dared to do something like that, someone would be on the horn to the police in seconds. Today’s carseats are very secure, so kids can’t get away with monkey style gymnastics in a VW van. They have to be strapped down as if they are about to be executed. A kid swinging on a bar monkey style the way I used to would be caught and dealt with very quickly in all but the most provincial of locations.

For you, Alexis… Dad’s was just like this.

Germany is probably even stricter about seatbelt use than the United States is. In fact, Bill became a seatbelt fanatic when he lived in Germany the first time and was threatened with a 40 Deutsch Mark fine. However, I have seen deja vous scenes from my childhood in Italy and Croatia, where things are evidently a little more reckless. Frankly, I would be scared not to wear a seatbelt in Italy. People drive like they’re alone in a big field there, even if there are tight switchbacks on a mountain road.

I mentioned in my shared post that Bill turns into Pat Boone when I don’t buckle up. One of my friends asked me if I could get video of Bill turning into Pat Boone. Actually, I think I would enjoy providing that. I might even get the chance, since we’re about to take a long road trip from Sweden to Germany in our new car. He does get rather stern about it… or as stern as he is capable of becoming. This is a bit crazy, since Bill spent 30 years in the Army, where one would expect easy “sternness”, especially from an officer. But Bill is one of the most easygoing, laid back, kind people I know. He would never turn into Pat Boone about most issues… except if he caught me without a seatbelt. And even then, he probably wouldn’t turn me over his knee and deliver a bruising spanking the way Pat Boone did back in the day. For one thing, it would obviously be very physically difficult for him to turn me over his knee. For another thing, as titillating as that idea might be for both of us, the fact is, it’s not actually something either of us is particularly comfortable with. Yes, we’re a little kinky, but we aren’t that kinky. I might get a lecture… it probably wouldn’t be a very serious lecture, because that would either piss me off or make me laugh.

Volvo is serious about safety… probably really turns safety geek Bill on.

The new car is a Volvo, so I suspect that even if Bill doesn’t turn into Pat Boone, the new car will. Volvos are notoriously “safe” cars, jam packed with safety features, alarms, and sensors determined to make sure everyone is as safe as possible, whether or not they’re feeling dangerous. Even if I were to –say– decide to ride in the back seat sitting behind Bill (something he doesn’t allow), the car would tattle on me if I misbehaved. The reason he doesn’t want me to sit behind him in the car is because it’s harder for him to make sure I’m not ditching the seatbelt. He wants me up front. If I wanted to ride in the back, he’d want me where he can glance back at me. But in the new car, it won’t matter. I bet he still won’t let me ride behind him, though. If I try to sit there, he’ll turn into Pat Boone and issue an Army style direct order to move to the middle seat. Hmm… maybe I’ll do that on purpose and film it so people can see Bill be “stern”. It’ll be good for a laugh.

So really, I guess when I say Bill turns into Pat Boone, I’m mostly kidding. The reality is, he treats me like a princess. No, not really a queen, but a princess– because if the truth be told, he takes excellent care of me. He’s very considerate, thoughtful, and protective, and only once in a great while does he morph into an Army style disciplinarian. I’m very lucky to have him in my life, even when he turns into Pat Boone… on quaaludes, maybe. Still, I can’t help but sometimes wistfully remember the days when I could readily flit about the car, completely unfettered by pesky laws, law abiding parents, and a safety geek husband.

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