Saturday, July 22, 2006

Me da

Walter Mason
Oct 23, 1912 - July 22, 1996

Taken on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

North American readers will remember (and possible still be doing this) having huge numbers of some lawn ornament (it started with flamingos, then began to include other critters) put on a person's front lawn on their birthday. The critters would be put in place during the night, so that it was a complete surprise in the morning. Usually with a sign with some sort of mildly embarrassing message, such as "Dave is over the hill. Happy 50th!" or some such thing. I don't know if this oh-so-dignified practice has sprung up anywhere else in the world or not.

I take you back in time to October 1992. My father was about to turn 80; no small milestone. As any of you who've tried to buy a gift for an 80-year old knows, it can be a tough assignment. They often have pretty much everything they need. And I'd bought books and CDs and, as his eyesight was failing, books on tape until they were pretty much coming out his ears. I needed something different to mark this event. I live about 1,000 miles from my home town, so arranging a big family party was out as I couldn't afford the plane tickets home. It would have to be "Operation Penguin" then.

My evil plan worked perfectly.

I found a flamingo/penguin planting company back home and set it up. On the morning of his birthday, Dad was sitting in the kitchen window (the one you can see behind him) with his morning tea, when he noticed that the cars driving down the street were slowing down, with people smiling and pointing at the lawn. From his vantage point, nothing was different. He stood up, looked out the window and thought, "What the...???" Just then his phone rang and his neighbour across the street asked if he knew he had a dozen penguins on his front lawn and who on earth had put them there?

Who, indeed. He knew immediately, of course. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Blogger TRT said...


Did you get a balance out of them?

July 23, 2006 at 7:33 a.m.  
Blogger Scaryduck said...

"And they all went home for cake. Fish cake."

July 23, 2006 at 1:31 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

TRT - No. My arms aren't long enough.

Scary - The end. TA DA!!!

July 23, 2006 at 1:59 p.m.  
Blogger GoodTwin <SAS> said...

What an excellent custom!
And what a lovely memory for you.

July 23, 2006 at 2:51 p.m.  
Blogger TRT said...

Cold, cold pie...

July 23, 2006 at 7:49 p.m.  
Anonymous TC said...

That's brilliant, Dawn.

What a great idea - I bet he was thrilled to bits...and such aristocratic penguins!

Did a neighbour send you the piccie?

July 24, 2006 at 4:25 a.m.  
Blogger Misty said...

I am so going to have to 'penguin somebody up' now :-D

Great story of penguin mirth btw, Cheers :)

July 24, 2006 at 10:07 a.m.  
Anonymous Ricardipus, Antarctican said...

...if only we'd known! I'm sure you could have solicited contributions from blogdom to make up an entire 80 penguins?

*Not* that what you did isn't most excellent, of course. Well done!

[rips off idea and files it away for future use]

July 24, 2006 at 6:24 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Goodtwin - Yes, it was and is.

TRT - Cold, cold heart. You. Fnarr.

TC - He was tickled pink (aka chuffed). The neighbour did indeed take the picture.

Misty - It is isn't it? The custom seems to have died out around here but based on the websites I found, it's still going strong in other places.

Ricardipus - It was 1992. I didn't have a computer back then... Did we even have the lovely internets then? I can't remember (much of anything these days). I thought of 80 penguins, but it really wasn't that big a lawn...

Feel free to use idea. T'wasn't mine in the first place.

Just in case anybody gets any ideas? I'd prefer garden gnomes. I like being among my own kind.

July 25, 2006 at 2:11 a.m.  
Blogger DCveR said...

Hehehehehe Had never heard of such, but it sounds like a nice surprise. Happy belated B-Day for your father!

July 25, 2006 at 9:07 a.m.  
Blogger Quartz said...

Ooh! That is so stolen. For my father's 80th this year, I got him an engraved yard glass. For his 75th, I got him an engraved tankard.

July 25, 2006 at 4:33 p.m.  
Anonymous Kat said...

Dad did that for Mom for her 40th, except that he used 40 drama masks. Of course, there is nowhere that rents 40 comedy/tragedy masks with convenient stakes attached to put on your lawn, so Dad had to make them from scratch. Mom went off to work that day not expecting more than a nice dinner and a few presents -- and she came home to a lawn covered in cardboard masks and a house full of surprise party guests. It was a good day.

And dammit, now I want to make a trip to NFLD for your 50th to plant garden gnomes on your lawn. I wonder if somewhere around you provides said services, kind of like florists who deliver? *evil cackle*

July 25, 2006 at 5:40 p.m.  
Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

What a fantastic idea. The agricultural suppliers' near my parents' sells plastic owls.

Tee hee hee.

July 28, 2006 at 2:50 a.m.  

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