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I Can’t Remember When I started Asking Why?

A young boy recalls how asking "Why?" got him into trouble many times before he learned to temper his questioning.

"History has always interested me and in school I paid close attention to how our nation was founded and who was who. Upon learning about the Father of our country, George Washington, I went home to tell everyone that George Washington was my father.  No one paid any attention to me until daddy’s friend came to visit. . . ."

Author unknown

It must have been early in life when I started questioning everyone and everything around me.  My father, who at times was not very patient, did answer my questions and of course, add a little humor into the explanation whenever possible.  His humor would also get me in deep trouble as I often shared his explanations with others.  Once we were digging up worms for the boys to go fishing and he asked me what one worm said to another.  I, in my wee wisdom replied, “let’s get married.”  Daddy replied that worms were part of each other and could reproduce by themselves with a female and male part within the same worm. The nuns did not like me repeating this story.

We used to have a dog that would have puppies every time we turned around.  We often got to watch her have her pups as well.  Once she came home and had porcupine needles on her mouth.  We would have to get the pliers and take them out.  Upon doing this I asked daddy how baby porcupines could be born without hurting their mother.  He didn’t answer me but simply shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.  That meant I had to be more imaginative in asking this question another time.

Everyday I would wake up wondering how things or people behaved the way they did.  Spring was the perfect month for a child like me to ask away.  Once it was close to Mother’s Day all the young children were busy getting ready for their first Holy Communion Day.  I noticed a bunch of white ant like flies coming out of the ground.  I immediately brought daddy over to ask him about them.  He informed me it was all the young children who were getting ready to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.  Their outfits were white so they must have been all girls. I made a dash to tell Sister Joseph the next day about my discovery.  I informed all the catechism students that they all were flies at one time but that they did look nice in their white dresses.  I also told them I didn’t think the boys had made it because I didn’t see black flies with them.  Sister Joseph had a big talk with daddy.  Daddy told me not to repeat everything he told me.

My Daddy loved politics and so I would hear him discuss politics all the time.  There was a saying [dicho] “No te fies del mexicano que fuma puro, ni del gringo que te dice compadre.  Never trust a Mexican who smokes a cigar, or a gringo who tell you he’s your pal.”  {The cigar-smoking Mexican has become Americanized and no longer has the Mexican-American’s interests at heart, while the supposedly friendly American just wants the Mexican vote.}  And so the day came when the politicians were making their way to East Pecos in a car that had a loudspeaker in it.  They would inform everyone about the coming political rally and where to go hear them and of course, who the main politician was.  The car would make partial stops along the dirt roads.  I happened to be standing along the road and the car came to a stop and the politician, Ingram Pickett, got out to shake hands with people. He would let little children hold the speaker and I quickly grabbed it.  He was also smoking a cigar.  Quickly the ditcho, “No te fies del mexicano que fuma puro, Ni del gringo que te dice compadre,” was heard all over East Pecos as I yelled into the speaker.  It was Daddy’s turn to ask me why I had said that.  I told him that he said that all the time.  I had embarrassed him this time but he did laugh with the rest of the crowd including the politicians who continued on.

History has always interested me and in school I paid close attention to how our nation was founded and who was who.  Upon learning about the Father of Our country, George Washington, I went home to tell everyone that George Washington was my father.  No one paid any attention to me until daddy’s friend came to visit.

Because we lived in an area that had three other homes people simply ask the question  “Donde vive tu papa?”

I answered that I had two fathers one who lived in that house and I pointed to our house and my other father lived in the colonies in Plymouth Rock.  Then I asked him if he was his father too.  By then my daddy had appeared and could tell that once again I had asked a question that was going to demand a good explanation.  I was told to hurry along.

I loved learning and maybe asking questions was one way to learn.  Daddy tried hard to teach me to use some common sense when asking.  He inspired me to keep learning, which is why I probably became a teacher of history. The questions are much harder today but I still ask.