My mother believed that children were to respect their elders at all times. We were always to speak to our neighbors and to address them properly as Mister, Misses, or Miss, depending on their situation. Our responses were yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am and no ma'am. Nothing less would do for my mother. If a person had position, or title, they were to be address with respect and by their title. During the few times that I lost my mind and went temporarily insane and addressed an elder by his first name, my mother's corrective actions were swift and stern. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, it involved pain. Parents weren't shy about that in those days.
Since Mr. Ernest worked the midnight shift we were cognizant of his need to sleep. When he came home, usually at around nine in the morning, he shut his door and disappeared for the day. His curtains were always drawn. During the school year this wasn't a problem for us because by the time we got out of school, finished our homework and chores, Mr. Ernest had already left the house. But during the summer, well, that was a different story.
In the summer, we always played outside. Often, we played away from our house - at the school's playground or at a friend's house- but every now and then our activities led us back home. On those occasions many of our friends would join us in raucous, but fun, entertainment in our yard. And of course, since Mr. Ernest was sleeping our mother, when she was not at work, would come out onto the porch and tell us gently in front of our friends, "Mr. Ernest is sleeping. So please, keep the noise down." We always obeyed. But we also knew better. In the back of our minds we knew that when our friends left, our mother would have more to say about our behavior. So, for us, this wasn't a common infraction.
Our neighbor worked very hard and deserved a good night's rest. We did our part. And while we sometimes slipped, for the most part, when Mr. Ernest was home, we made sure that our actions did not prevent him from getting a good night's rest. I was reminded of this the other day when I was in Chicago. I had gone to my room to get a good night's rest. My meetings were to start very early the next morning. Unfortunately, my hotel was the one where it seemed that the parent's of all the children participating in a national soccer tournament , had chosen to stay. So, when I turned out my light at 10:00 PM, I tossed and turned for the next three hours while children ran up and down the hotel's hallways, yelling and screaming. And their parents? Well they were downstairs in the courtyard, having drinks. Apparently they didn't care that "Mr. Ernest" was sleeping.