The Blue Sun and Other Tales of the 1950’s


Back in the 1950’s, the pressure to conform, which is always present in society, was much more above ground and unified. And to make things even more fun, Freudian psychiatry was the hot thing.   I was no six year old James Dean, but I had my own quiet rebellions. I was forever getting in trouble for being different in simple ways, I used to hold my scissors differently for instance, and believe it or not, this drove my teacher to distraction. But the big blow-up happened when I colored the sun blue.

I knew how to read long before starting school (hey, I’m a bookaholic!). This in itself caused problems, my teacher would not believe I could read, the other kids couldn’t read, and when I tried to demonstrate she would always say I memorized it. I had a children’s book at home about astronomy, where it explained the sun was just a star, and stars came in different colors. So when it came time to color in the sun at school, I colored it blue (in truth, probably being a show-off). The teacher had me stand up in the front of the class with my blue sun, and carefully explained to the class, that the only permissible colors to color the sun were yellow or orange. As I stood there subjected to the cruel laughter of those six year old clones, I tried to explain to them about the sun, and stars, and that there was more to the universe than yellow suns. And of course, was sent to the office to see the school psychologist.

Back then it was the popular thing to have a school psychologist to even out the bumps in the otherwise smooth student body. Ours was this very patronizing woman I loathed. She had a doll house in her office, single floor ranch (we all lived in fairly identical houses like that in the suburbs) with no roof. She had me sit in front of it, and gave me small plastic figures, explaining “this one is your father, this one is your mother, etc”.  Then she asked me to put them in the house doing things they would normally be doing. Was she kidding? Did she really not expect me to mess with her head? I put my mother in the bathtub, my father upside down in the chimney, can’t remember what I did with my siblings, but I’m sure it was something twisted. Then the questions started, did my father drink a lot (my parents never drank), did my mother ignore me, etc. She finally called my parents in. I don’t really remember exactly what happened then, but the next year we moved away from suburbia to a rural home in a small town full of eccentric people. I know in part my parents did this for me, I love them very much for always letting me be me in a time when that was not the norm.

I always hated coloring after that. I think this dislike even extended to animation, I never really liked cartoons though I loved TV. My friend @CTK1 was trying to get me to color something for a coloring contest, and I actually found myself still pretty much blocked almost 50 years later. I told her my sun story, and she urged me to write a blog about it. This is it. I just colored the blue sun at the top. Thanks Tina!


8 Responses to The Blue Sun and Other Tales of the 1950’s

  1. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman @jeannevb says:

    You should do crayon therapy… seriously.

    i have a good teacher story: I’ve always been out-of-the-box thinker, raised by a hippy mom who made granola on Saturdays and never let me have a Barbie because she thought they were sexist (in reality, she was probably just jealous of Barbie’s boobies). We always shopped at thrift stores. I wanted cool bell bottoms, so she bought a van full of jeans for $100 so I could make my own with floral fabric and use the too-small jeans to make funky purses. And we picked dandelions for dandelion wine (which she let us drink too) while the suburbanites sprayed theirs with weed killer. Sorry, I digress. Teachers, right?

    My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Trimm. We’re going back to 1970 here, so toys were still very segregated into male and female. All the pretty little girls wore dresses, ribbons in their hair and fought for the one and only pretty doll in the room. The boys got to play with the cool stuff… trucks, blocks, and LEGOS! F’ing LEGOS! I LOVED LEGOS! Every day I would drool over the bumpy lego blocks and my mind would spin with the possibility of creation. Mrs. Trimm would see my trying to play with the girls, but she knew I wasn’t happy. One day I got hurt and she told me to ask someone to walk me to the nurse. I picked this adorable, sweet, popular girl to walk with me. This was my chance to befriend her! There she was in her perky little ruffly dress, and I was in my tie-dyed t-shirt and hippy jeans (that I was deeply proud of). She didn’t say one word to me on the way to the nurse. Bitch. I stop trying to fit in after that.

    So there I was with lego lust and no pretty little friends. But instead of forcing me inside that girly box, Mrs. Trimm took my hand, led me to this lone boy sitting at the lego table, and gave me permission to be me. After that, every single day I sat with that boy and we built the most bizarre, outrageous messed-up lego animals, people, creatures and buildings one could ever imagine. I loved Mrs. Trimm. She was pure validation… and that boy was my first kiss.

    Then my first grade teacher yelled at me for coloring outside the lines. I still do. I have taught my children the same. I have two gifted, artistic kids, who are twisted and beautifully different and they would love your blue sun, my man. It’s gorgeous. Now pick up a crayon and be you.

    Thank you for bringing this memory back to me. I forgot how delightful it was.

  2. @CTK1 says:

    Fabulous blog, Roger and I’m not just blowing smoke up your chimney! For’serious, well done!

    “I put my mother in the bathtub, my father upside down in the chimney”

    I also love that you were smart enough, even at that tender age, to know you were not to be toyed with by a shrunken brained Shrink who plays with toys!

    It almost sounds as if that dunderheaded lady expected you to have the dolls humping each other on the rooftop. Or like you might shove them in your backside and say this is how mama and papa do me at night. Then tell her to come closer, BAM, cut the cheese.

    The utter moronicAL actions of those humans supposedly there to “teach” us and “expand” our minds was always and forever will be befuddling. 1950 to 2009 and on.
    Until the Robots take over children are at their mercy and that is rotten. Robots have more compassion than many of the goons I’ve studied under.

    They say “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

    I do NOT, DO NOT, believe that for one second even though I’ve only had three great professors in my life. And they were great because they knew their shit, taught it well and as a side job they cut through my clownish antics, helping me HELP MYSELF get to the bottom of where I really wanted to go and where I really wanted to be. They weren’t shrinks (although it sounds that way) they were simply terrific teachers who wanted to make sure I was learning, everyone was learning. And I did learn. If not for their guidance I’d be a Carney right now shouting about “Come One, Come All, witness the fat lady eat a midget in one bite, AND gape aghast at the wart covered man with 5 elbows.

    I’m really happy you wrote this.
    And I do hope you change your mind and pick up the CRAYOLA again! Break through…break on through to the other side…

    THE SUN IS BLUE…and you are all the colors in the Crayola box.

    This super long comment is so super long that it’s super long and I wonder how it happened? x

  3. Jefferson Reid says:

    The old-school, suffocation-by-conformity thing was very popular for decades after the ’50s. I fancied that I had a similar non-conformist streak (I WAS a precocious smart ass!), but my unfortunate visit to the school psychologist stemmed from sheer laziness.

    When assigned to draw my whole family in first grade, I decided to save time by drawing all my 6 siblings and myself with our hands behind our backs so I wouldn’t have to draw all those digits.

    Big mistake.

    Apparently, kids who don’t draw hands are 100 percent abused at home. As a result, I earned a trip to the counseling office, and my mom had to come in and face the Grade-School Social Workers’ version of the Spanish Inquisition. Meddling turds!

    After that, I made sure to draw 5 primitive stick-figure fingers on the hand of every of every single person I drew. We all learn such valuable lessons in school!

  4. Amir Masud says:

    holy crap, whatever happened to brevity? That @CTK1 just babbled on and on…for pete’s sake! I stopped reading after “Fabulous blog, Roger and I’m not just blowing smoke up your chimney! ”

    I do agree, I enjoyed the out of the boxedness of your kidhood. 🙂

  5. cynsheis says:

    showin love for those of us who color outside the lines without trying too hard!

  6. Zut Moon says:

    It’s the weed …Man …. U just gotta get off that weed ….

    Everyone knows the sun is Purple with pink dots …. ssssshhheeee Man ….

  7. Jupiter says:

    This reminds me of that Harry Chapin song “Flowers are Red”. Flowers are red Green leaves are green There’s no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen

  8. booksbelow says:

    Thanks for all your comments, I also got a lot of DM’s, this seemed to stir up unpleasant memories, and a lot of support for coloring the sun blue! It seems many of us have had to suffer for not being ‘normal’!

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