In small towns like ours where everyone knew everyone else, birthday parties were an important social event. Not only for the boys and girls of the district, but for the moms in particular. Even though they probably saw each other every second or third day while shopping, it was hard to spread all the gossip they would like too in five or ten minutes on a street corner but birthday parties where they would spend probably two or more hours together, while all the children played outside, were ideal.
As for the children, I donít know of any that didnít like a birthday party. And as for myself, well I thought they were just wonderful. I cannot remember any party that I did not enjoy thoroughly.
One strange thing about birthday parties was that older boys and girls played together with the young ones. This was the only time, for usually older boys and girls would not be seen dead talking to any young ones, much less playing with them heaven forbid.
Of all the great parties I went to, and this includes my own party, one sticks in my mind more than any. It was Rose Brownís birthday. I think she was nine or ten. All the usual were there, as were all the moms. They didnít only bring their siblings, but loads of eats too. A lot of hungry mouths to feed at any party. The main fare at these parties was hundred and thousands sandwiches and cup cakes - very nice.
Well the party started the same as usual with all the terrors outside and all the moms inside sipping tea and spreading as much gossip as they could in the time available.
Most of the children were playing hide and seek. But I noticed the terrible two, my brother Tony and his friend Bill, weren't playing but had their heads together, most likely hatching something good I reckoned. So I slipped up behind to listen. Tony had a dirty ditty as he called it and was trying to teach Bill. They both reckoned that when we were filing in for the eats and they got really close to the moms they would burst out together with the ditty.
Now I thought this was a really great idea. Tony went over and over the poem until Bill had it word perfect. But unknown to them so did I. We were all filing in, the oldies first, the little tackers last. I was watching Tony and Bill with great interest. When they got opposite all the moms, they started nudging each other and sniggering, but nothing eventuated. When I got up to the moms, I thought it was worth a try by myself, so in a very loud voice I recited
'Captain Cook the dirty old chook was sailing down the river. He struck a rock and broke his cock, and ate it for his dinner'.
Well all talk stopped, and for about ten seconds you could have heard a pin drop. The moms tried hard not to laugh, hiding their faces in their hands, some leaning against the wall. But they couldnít help it they all burst out laughing, some dabbing their eyes, some nearly having hysterics. Even the older girls had their hands over their mouths tittering.
Tony and Bill did not look all that happy at this stage but I reckoned I had a run away hit on my hands. One of the moms calmed down enough to say to me as gruffly as possible between giggles.
'Who told you that?'
I didnít even answer because she looked around the milling group and pointing Tony and Bill said.
'It was you two, wasnít it?'
That is amazing isnít it? I thought only my mom could read minds, but obviously they all can.
It took about five minutes for the moms to control themselves; even then one would burst out in a fit of giggling. But over all they settled down reasonably well. Just as well because the table was groaning under the weight of all those goodies just begging to be eaten. Tony and Bill had a decent old dressing down. I felt a little sorry for them. One mom picking on you was bad enough but a room full was a bit daunting. Both looked quite crestfallen but when we got into the main event everything was forgotten, or was it?
I never forgot that party and Iíll bet there were a few of those moms that didnít either.