Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The leftovers of childhood...

One of my favorite activities is reading.  A person would not be blamed for thinking that new technology, videos, video games, etcetera would usurp the place of reading in our lives.  Not only has this not happened but technology has come up with ways to allow us to read more easily.  You don't have to schlep to the library to get a book;  Just fire up your Kindle.

I often reflect on the set of books, from Disney, I owned as a child.  The club was called, "Disney's Wonderful World of Reading" and they often used old folk tales and other stories and "jazzified" them using Disney characters.  Each book was a hardcover and there was a plastic book holder to keep them all.

As this summer advances I think of all the wonderful summers I had as a kid.  We'd usually go to Arkansas to visit my grandparents who lived on a lake.  The days were filled with fishing, swimming, reading and fun.  Having lived through the depression my Nana and Grampa were frugal.  One of their traditions was having "musgoes".   Sometimes the neighbors were invited over for musgoes.  Musgoes was everything that "must go" in the refrigerator.  It was kind of like a poor man's smorgasbord.  Often it shaped up as quite a delight ... you'd get a bit of tuna casserole, some goulash, a dab of taco salad, a wedge of delicious canaloupe,  a smidge of green beans, cold fried chicken or potato salad.

I wonder how many people are denied this special throw-back feast in these days when families don't really cook enough homemade meals in a week to accumulate the leftovers required to dine on musgoes. I don't know if people are getting the kitchen skills required to take ingredients they find in a fridge and make "button soup" either.

Button soup, you say?  Yeah, I hadn't really thought about the term a great deal until a couple of months ago when I was with the family and staring into the fridge, arms akimbo, trying to figure out if there was enough there to throw a meal together.  I told my grandma I was going to make "button soup" ... and then I shared the story with her.

Of course I was sharing the Disney version of the book I had as a kid.  See, old Scrooge McDuck was parsimonious.  The whole Disneyhood knew him as a miser.  One day, Daisy Duck tells him that she can make some soup using only a button.  Scrooge is intrigued and tells Daisy to go ahead.  Daisy throws the button in a pot of water and relates to Scrooge that, "This button soup is delicious, but really it's even better if you throw in an onion ..."  She doesn't have an onion, but Scrooge gives her an onion for the button soup.  Daisy continues in this vein saying the button soup would improved with some ... celery ... maybe a soup bone ... some carrot ... etc.

In the end the soup is made and the community is enjoying it.  Scrooge exclaims that he can't believe such a delectable pot of soup was made with just one button!

Certainly the message here is that Scrooge McDuck is wealthy and selfish.  Once he has given everyone the soup, they love him and his image is somewhat improved.  This, while a clever tale, doesn't really represent any sea change on the part of Scrooge.  He was tricked.

It's just a children's book, right?  Well ... I did some looking and it has its roots in an old folk story about "Stone Soup."  Looking back at "Button Soup",  I think the message is a bit devious.

The wealthy guy is a penny-pincher.
His very wealth is the only relevant thing about his character.
He should be sharing his wealth with everyone.
Daisy Duck is very clever.
By telling Scrooge incrementally, just one more thing ... just one more thing, she's able to make a delicious pot of soup.
The soup is shared with everyone and they decide Scrooge is somewhat redeemed.
Scrooge is too stupid to realize that his ingredients made the pot of soup.


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