The Portugal Years: Year Five – That Crazy Summer of 1983

Bethy and "Tommy" on the day he left to go home.

Bethy and “Tommy” on the day he left to go home.

On June 30th, 1983 we found ourselves catapulted into year five of our Portugal adventure. About mid-summer, one of my former students came to visit us. Tommy (name changed  to protect the guilty) kept the classroom lively for me when I was his teacher.

Once he tried to scam his mother. Tommy failed a Social Studies test on Thursday. He had until Tuesday to get a parental signature that they had seen it. So, he hid his failing test and took his study sheets home. He persuaded his mother to him help him study for the test all weekend.

On Monday afternoon I got a phone call from his frustrated and weeping mother. It mystified  me. She kept saying that she had studied with Tommy all weekend for the test he took that day. I had no idea what she was talking about. I repeated several times that I never gave tests on Mondays. Then the truth struck me. It took me 15 minutes explain to Tommy’s mother and for her to understand  that he had totally scammed her. We will pull a curtain of charity over the succeeding events.

Shortly after Tommy went back to the states, we set up Harry’s “single” bed for Bethy. She was almost two years old, and was going to sleep in a big girl bed. Then, the night terrors began. She woke up in the middle of the night screaming. Harry dashed down the hall certain something horrible had happened to her as she slept.  When she saw her daddy, Bethy told Harry that there were lions in her bed. Harry tried to reassure her, and eventually she went to sleep.

This happened several times a week. I was not a fan of the lions. Finally  Harry, in a moment of inspiration, asked Bethy to show him where the lions were. She pointed to the top of the high headboard. He reached up and  “grabbed” all of those lions. He held them as he ran down the hallway, opened the door and yelled out into the dark of the night: “You are bad lions. You get out of here and don’t scare my Bethy anymore.” After that when she woke up scared he chased the lions again, and she soon grew out of it.

Bethy with her doll on the varanda

Bethy with her doll on the varanda

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25 thoughts on “The Portugal Years: Year Five – That Crazy Summer of 1983

  1. Aww, Bethy is so cute! Does she have kids yet? If so, I wonder if she knows about lion catching on the other end of the reap? Tommy sounds like he was a pretty smart kid. What a clever ruse! :D


    • Bethy has a little girl who will be five next month. If her daughter would ever sleep, she might. “Tommy” is married with a lot of kids, I’ve been told. Would love to see him and his family.


      • Aww, that’s so cool! The internet is such a useful tool now for new parents. (I.e., I recently saw a spray bottle filled with colored water and glitter and there was a label on it that said “Monster Repellent”. And I thought, “Why wasn’t I that creative when my kids were small?”) So when you have stories like yours from back before there was this “idea box”, I am truly impressed by the creativity parents used. :D


        • Sometimes I think the Internet has altogether too much information. I know I depend on it for various needs. But, I assure you that my parents managed to raise me with Dr. Spock’s book on child care and I survived. ;)


  2. My father was long time member of the service organization, Lion’s Clubs International, and for the last 25 years of his working years he was Executive Director of the North Carolina Lion’s Foundation. As you might imagine, over the years Mom and Dad had accumulated quite a collection of lions of all shapes, sizes, and material.

    One of the most impressive of the collection was a three foot high ceramic Lion in mid-snarl. When my brother’s David’s boys were little, they were quite leery of ol’ Leo. But the worse came when young Dave junior spent the night with his Grandmother and Granddaddy Spencer. Already worried about the snarling ceramic lion outside his room in the hall, he awoke in the middle of the night to my father’s prolific world class snoring, which of course he attributed to the lion. He cut loose with shriek of sheer terror that not only started Mom and Dad wide awake, but woke the neighbors next door.

    To this day young Dave, now a successful engineer and graduate of NC State University, has very little use for lions, ceramic or otherwise.


  3. David Junior lives in Charlotte and designs industrial air conditioning systems. His younger brother Scott just graduated from NC State this past spring. Also an engineer, Scott’s field is alternative energy systems.


    • Oh, “Tommy” was a piece of work. That was just his pièce de résistance. And I’m not ashamed to say that the rascals were the ones I enjoyed the most.

      Yes, that was all Harry’s idea. It worked. And eventually they left for good.


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