WHISTLE POWER
Whistle and dance the shimmy
You will find your audience.
Anonymous
Robert Smith has been arrested several times for whistling on the streets of Portland Oregon. Residents said he was disturbing their peace. The court listened to shop owners, pedestrians and outraged mothers’ complaints and last February, decided that Smith was free to whistle as long as he didn’t stand still. Now, Robert Smith walks throughout downtown Portland, whistling a penetrating, tuneless melody so loud you can hear him blocks away. “I get more self-worth out of whistling. I do it every day — weather permitting,” he said. “I’m not out here to be the best whistler in the world. I’m just trying to make people smile.”
I think that is a lovely attitude, one that all of us should think about adopting. Whistling is a delightful way to spread joy, catch someone’s attention and call the dog. My sister could whistle before she could say a sentence. She, like Robert Smith, used to love to whistle while she walked. The difference is that my sister was a fat, adorable three year old who toddled happily in the neighborhood; Smith is a grown man; a construction worker, who should have better things to do with his time.
However, the end results for both of them are the same. When neighbors saw my sister wandering through Birkhead Place, they would call my mother and say, ”Ida, your kid ran away again.”
That served to alert my mother and give my sister the attention she wanted. She too had no intentions of being the best whistler in Toledo, Ohio. She wanted her mother. My sister’s whistling often took her out of our gated community and into the main thoroughfare.
One summer day, in 1944, my sister wandered out of the house whistling and attracted a mangy dog who fell madly in love with her unique melody. The dog followed her down the street, past manicured lawns and budding maple trees, across busy intersections and crowded parking lots until at last, a policeman noticed the tiny, dimpled whistler followed by a large, flea infested hound.
He stopped my sister and said, as kind policemen did in the days before they carried guns and a chip on their shoulder, ”Darling where are you going?”
My sister, who had not mastered speech as well as she had her tuneful art, said, ”Dog!” and she smiled at the policeman expecting him to tell her she was a brilliant child because she said a complete word. At this very moment, my mother dashed into the street her apron strings flying behind her yelling, ”Marsha Dee!!! STOP!!!”
The policeman stopped. Pedestrians stopped My sister kept walking and whistling her way past the drugstore toward the bakery. She pointed to the dog. “We hunnry.” she announced.
The policeman went into the bakery, bought a bag of cookies: He gave one to my sister and one to the dog. “Say thank you,” my mother said to my sister. The dog barked, my mother popped a tranquilizer and the policeman continued his beat.
The moral of this story is: There was a time when a whistle got you a cookie, but now-a-days, all you get is a citation.”