Johnny Steinkellner: A Kid in ’50s America.

25 Aug

Here’s Johnny.  The quintessential 50’s kid.  Around five years old when the 50’s started and a hard working teen-ager when JFK turned them into the New Frontier.  He was the marble shootin’ champeen o’ the neighborhood and had two shopping bags full of marbles to prove it.  In this picture he is sporting a crew cut that must be carrying a pound of butch wax on it. So, of course his best friend was a guy named, Butchie.

He was the baby of our family until he was already in school but then guess who came along to usurp his royal highness’s role?  Yep.  Being king is nice but being the baby is sweet.

In spite of my rude arrival, he was always on my side.  One Christmas, I ate some candy that was in these little glass tubes that were decorating the tree.  He took the rap until enormous guilt (constantly tweaked by Catholic schooling) exploded in my brain and I tearfully confessed. If I had gotten away with it, Johnny might be on death row on my behalf today.

Once, when I was six, I was playing alone in the park with my balsa wood airplane when two kids (Marty and Mickey Smith who later in the Disney movie tradition would become good friends of mine) started hassling me.  Out of nowhere a sort of manly voice says “What’s going on here?”  My hero — eighth grader, Johnny.

He got me my first job as the assistant office boy (he was the head one).  The Lebhar-Friedman office was a dead wringer for Mad Men Chicago style.  Johnny really should have clued me in on the similar shenanigans that were alleged to be going on between  the secretaries and the salesmen.  At fifteen I had crushes on half of the secretaries. Later, when somebody wised me up,  it broke my heart.

He was a strong kid in a big shouldered city. A tireless hustler.  The hardest worker since Sisyphus.  And a  helluva big brother. Today’s his birthday.  Happy birthday, Johnny!

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2 Responses to “Johnny Steinkellner: A Kid in ’50s America.”

  1. Sioux August 25, 2011 at 12:38 PM #

    I loved, loved this. you have made John’s birthday! This is his best B-day present ever.
    Even better than the Burberry raincoat you gave him years ago that he practically slept in. Aside from the lovely sentiment’ the writing was great—a strog kid in a big shouldered city. Thanks for making his day. :). Love, Sioux

  2. linda norys hiser August 26, 2011 at 6:35 AM #

    You know I loved this one, and the Mad Men Chicago reference was just too much for me.

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