Bruce Cunningham’s 1964 Household Rules
I was churning through a pile of papers, and discovered three sheets of old, pale green lined accounting-pad paper, covered with my father-in-law’s distinctive all-caps writing style. The sheets were the kind with the line down the middle, and had been yanked from a spiral-top binding).
Is it possible I over-value scraps?
You be the judge:
FAMILY T.V. RULES March 1964
1) TV WEEK—from Sat 12:00 pm…..end Sat 12:00 pm
2) STARTS 1 March 64 Doug Week
3) LOCATION in either of boy’s rooms, or in living room
by special arrangement with Mother & Dad
4) Use of TV (Renegotiate the trial 4-wk period from 1 Mar)
a) School days: max 90 min
b) Non-school days: max 180 min, for each viewer.
During the week, TV will be placed in ONE of boy’s rooms, only programs select by occupant of the room will be viewed. On non-school days double viewing IS possible (per 4(b) above)
c) Behavior in TV room MUST be acceptable to occupant of room. Visitors must leave on FIRST request to do so by occupant.
5) When above agreement is violated in the opinion of Mother and Dad person guilty of violation will lose TV rights for period of one week. In such case TV will be placed in storage for period of penalty.
a) Mother & Dad have right to watch any designated program on 1 hr. adv. notice.
b) School work has precedence over TV viewing
d) No TV viewing between 6 and 6:30 on School Days.
Signed and dated on this 1st of March, 1964 “Doug” (13 yrs ), “Charlie” (16-yrs) “Bruce” (42 yrs)
Then the attention turns to snakes:
KING SNAKE AGREEMENT 12 Sept 64
– No more pets are to be brough home w/o specific permission by both Dad & Mother
-No more pet are to be quartered in the house w/ospecific permission by both Mother + Dad
-The only pets permitted in Dougs room are kingsnake, boa, & kangaroo rat. All above pets will be kept on top of hutch only.
-Any significant problems (‘significant’ is to be determined by Dad +Mother) that arise due to pets in house will result in their permanent removal from the house.
Since Bruce was freshly out of the military, the notes have a stern, yet immanently accountable feel to them…I forget if the boys had to say “sir”(we sure did, but my father wasn’t a military man. He simply loved the power of controlling his scared little brood).
When I read these notes (which I was about to throw away) to Charlie he laughed and recalled that those rules lasted about a month, and the experiment in paternal omnipotence deteriorated. What touched me about these seemingly reasonable rules was the fact that the Dad was willing to put himself on the line, and be accountable in this ernest contract.
This is about forty years before parents would be coached to create contracts with their children (was Bruce way ahead of his time, or hopelessly mistaken that his little Cunningtroop might be dutiful little soldiers?).