Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darnedest Things!”

Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a #1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and on her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com. Her new release, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” can be found on Amazon.com.

I was born and raised on 1950’s television. Art Linkletter was the go-to host for a long list of radio and television shows even before I was born. In those days he was our Tom Bergeron (“Dancing with the Stars,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos”), or Chris Harrison (“The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”), or even Dunwoody, Georgia boy Ryan Seacrest, who has hosted many shows (“American Idol,” “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” and more).
While hosting “House Party” both on radio and television, from January 1945 to September 1969, the show’s best-remembered segment was “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Linkletter interviewed an estimated 23,000 school children between the ages of 5 and 10 during the segment’s almost-three-decade run.
Life was pretty tame then, and so were the television programs. Questions like “Where do babies come from?” would never have crossed host Art Linkletter’s lips, I wouldn’t think. Between 5 and 9 I was naïve, too. I didn’t have an older sister to pass down such questions and answers. I lived in an only child bubble. But in fourth grade and 10 years old, my best friend, Gayle, who had a sister two years older than herself, inquired if I knew.
My mother hadn’t had the talk with me yet. I learned it all from Gayle, who heard from her sister, a sixth-grader, and who knows where she heard it.
And so here we were and I am sure I looked like a deer in headlights when she posed the question. Later, I heard of some creative answers from mothers (or fathers) to this question. One mother recalled panicking when she heard her child asking for the answer to life’s biggest mystery at a young age and blurted out, “The dryer.”
Another parent commented, “One way to get around it is to use scientific words to this query. Since they will not know the meanings to these immense words, you can say you answered honestly without saying much because they will not know what you are talking about. My child became bored with this conversation and left the room before the end of the discussion.”
One person wrote that her mother replied, “Down Under” and so for five years this child thought babies came from feet. Absurd. But remember, the answer wasn’t specific. Another remark from a mother said, “The clearance rack at Wal-Mart.”
Are dads’ answers any better? One wrote, “I asked my dad and he said there was a magical bean you could buy from Wal-Mart and my mom ate one and she puked me out nine months later.” She believed that story until she took her puberty classes in middle school. And what’s with Wal-Mart being a part of the explanations on pro-creation?
Another child posed the reproduction question to his dad and his father answered, “The cabbage patch.” This youngster went to his garden daily to check on the cabbages to see if anything was taking place to produce a brother or sister. His mother became sad watching his faithful visits and finally told him, “Your dad’s a liar.”
I answered Gayle’s question. I shared that I always thought babies were checked out from the hospital like library books. Whenever I visited the hospital with my mother, I saw that babies – all lined up and laid out next to each other in rows in the nursery…looked just like books.
Since 1996, there has been help, though, to get through this quandary. All that’s needed to be said was/is, “Go watch Animal Planet.”

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