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Old 02-12-2019, 06:47 PM
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Where were "people starving" when you were a kid?


When I was a kid in the post-WWII world, I had to clean my plate, because "people are starving in Europe." Until the day I said "Name one", and my father smacked me so hard he knocked me over.

I could never figure out how cleaning my plate reduced starvation in Europe.

Where were people starving when you were a kid, and where are they starving for today's kids?
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:02 PM
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My family version was "think of the starving millions in China". This was the 70's, so ... a little behind the curve there.

Wikipedia tells me it should have been Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

My kids only know that other kids are starving in Japan
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:03 PM
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Africa
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
My family version was "think of the starving millions in China". This was the 70's, so ... a little behind the curve there.

Wikipedia tells me it should have been Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

My kids only know that other kids are starving in Japan
Yep, China for us,too.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:05 PM
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Ethiopia. We used to get big guilt trips in school if we didn't finish our lunches because of the famine.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:41 PM
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Another Ethiopia. Though lately I've been hearing Somalia more.
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:41 PM
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Moved from Thread Games to IMHO.

[/moderating]
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:58 PM
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Armenia.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:36 AM
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Biafra. It was the late 1960s, and the news was full of civil war in Nigeria, and children starving in Biafra as a result.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:43 AM
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In the 80s it was Africa, although my parents - intelligent people who understood the concept of logical fallacies - never actually used it on me un-ironically.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:43 AM
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Since my family has a legacy of local charity work, there was never any need to look far.

The standard speech was

"eat your dinner, all of it! You should know how lucky you are to have parents who can provide the things you need, not every child around here is as lucky as you are to have liver to complain about eating. They would love to have that right now. So stop your whining and blubbering and eat, you're not leaving the table till you do."

1970s. My god, I still remember it today, and I still hate liver today as well.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoons View Post
Biafra. It was the late 1960s, and the news was full of civil war in Nigeria, and children starving in Biafra as a result.
Same here — Biafra. This was in 1969, when I lived in Upstate New York. I hadn’t even heard of Biafra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biafra
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:20 AM
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Ethiopia ...all you had to do was watch the news in the 80s .......
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:30 AM
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Ethiopia when I was a kid. Band Aid and all of that.

Nowadays I believe it's Yemen.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:34 AM
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Ethiopia.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:10 AM
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India, I think. I told my mother to send them all the peas.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:17 AM
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China — presumably Nationalist China, not the Godless Commies — in the 1950s.

As an added bonus, being RCC, we were admonished to "offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory" when faced with something unpleasant. Never could figure out how raking a pile of soggy leaves would get someone out of hock, but it wasn't a question one asked.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:55 AM
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Am I right in thinking that this thing -- with its usually ineffective means of admonishing kids to "eat up" -- took off in a big way in the USA, in World War I, a propos Belgium? --said country's German occupiers stripped it rather bare, and the US government supplied large-scale food aid to Belgium, including before the US's entering the war; and it's been a prominent "meme", re various parts of the world, ever since. (I'm not that old , and I'm not American -- just "stuff that I've heard".)

From my 1950s British childhood, I don't remember my parents ever pulling this one on me, concerning any country (and I was a dreadfully picky eater) -- that kind of thing, wasn't their way.

Last edited by Sangahyando; 02-13-2019 at 03:56 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sangahyando View Post

From my 1950s British childhood, I don't remember my parents ever pulling this one on me, concerning any country (and I was a dreadfully picky eater) -- that kind of thing, wasn't their way.
Weren't you kind of short on food yourselves, back in 1950s Britain?

Last edited by Alessan; 02-13-2019 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:25 AM
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It wasn't brilliant, early ' 50s; but plenty of others had it worse. Small kids no doubt got the best of what there was.

Last edited by Sangahyando; 02-13-2019 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:33 AM
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Ethiopia.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:44 AM
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Grew up in the sixties. Starving children in [country] was rarely used. My dad enforced a "Your mom went to the trouble to cook it, you're gonna show appreciation by eating it" rule. Our table custom was to put all the food in serving dishes, and everyone spoon out their own amount. It was law* that we were to select some of every dish, and if the amount was disrespectfully small, he would dish out substantially more.

*Everyone was allowed to select one particular food they could skip when it appeared, but only one. Mine was butterbeans. I still hate those.

Last edited by pullin; 02-13-2019 at 04:45 AM.
  #23  
Old 02-13-2019, 05:08 AM
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I could never figure out how cleaning my plate reduced starvation in Europe.
It didn't. What it was supposed to do was to make you realize how lucky, how very lucky you were, to live in a land where you wanted for nothing.

Nobody was fed in Europe because you didn't clean your plate. You were supposed to feel lucky because you got healthy and nutritious Brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli, while European kids got shoe leather. Except they didn't get shoe leather, and you got yucky-tasting Brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli. Or stewed tomatoes. I don't know how many times my Mom told my sister and I that we were "lucky, lucky children," because we didn't know starvation like they had in Biafra. So we gagged down the awful vegetables, because we were lucky, lucky children who weren't unlucky, like Biafran children.

My Mom was such a lousy cook that I bet that even Biafran children would refuse Brussels sprouts the way my Mom cooked them. And what the hell are "stewed tomatoes" anyway?
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:12 AM
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My parents never used this tactic. We were expected to finish our dinner, and there was no discussion. We weren't forced to eat things we didn't like (which is great, because asparagus stunk to high heaven!!!) but we had to finish at least a serving of meat and veg and drink a glass of milk.

Of course, if you didn't finish your meal, you didn't get dessert...
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:43 AM
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"Eat your dinner. You know there are starving kids in Europe?
"I wish I was starving in Europe. At least they know how to cook there."

I never got that from my folks, but my mom was from Germany and knew how to cook.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:45 AM
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1970s — China, but usually phrased as “As your grandpa would tell us when we were kids...” (so, circa 1950).

By the 1980s, when I was a teen, Ethiopia was more common.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:47 AM
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Same here — Biafra. This was in 1969, when I lived in Upstate New York. I hadn’t even heard of Biafra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biafra
I once dated a girl named for that episode. Seriously.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:57 AM
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My parents wouldn't use this tactic, and I was conditioned to eat everything and anything. Luckily, I think I'm naturally not a picky eater.

But the country would have been Ethiopia had they been so inclined. It was the 80s, and that was constantly in the news and the source of very many jokes and riddles in poor taste. (And, also, being a kid of the 80s and a Weird Al listener at the time, Japan.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-13-2019 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:58 AM
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Awww...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone
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Moved from Thread Games to IMHO.

[/moderating]
Think of all those people in Thread Games.

I think mine was Africa. Maybe China. I wasn't really listening. I did have to finish everything.
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:06 AM
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As an added bonus, being RCC, we were admonished to "offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory" when faced with something unpleasant. Never could figure out how raking a pile of soggy leaves would get someone out of hock
I read this as "get someone out of heck" which sort of works too.
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:38 AM
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Yeah, Biafra. Never knew exactly where that was!
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Old 02-13-2019, 08:07 AM
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Allan Sherman on children starving in Europe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeoa0-U8-Yw

"Ladies and gentlemen, I got fat as a public service when I was a child,
My mother said to me,
"Clean the plate, because children are starving in Europe"
And I might point out that that was years before the Marshall Plan was ever heard of"
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:37 AM
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Another "vote" for Biafra. Surprised to see it so wide-spread.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:54 AM
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Africa for me. The usual speech from my dad was "There are people starving in Africa who could make a whole meal out of what you're leaving on your plate." My inclination was to ask if there was some way we could send my food to them, but I knew better than to actually say it.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:54 AM
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Late 60s -70s: China or we'd hear my mom tell the story of when my grandpa (her dad) was stationed in France during WWII. The hungry kids would stand around as the GI's ate and wait for something to be offered up.
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:21 AM
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My dad came to within days of starving to death in WWII Holland. There was no question whatsoever in our house: you cleaned your plate and food was never discarded. We were upper middle class but many of my take-to-school lunches featured stale bread. Other kids with parents with other histories were coerced with “little children in Africa” NOS.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:17 AM
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Biafra. Late 1960s.

My mother was ( at the time ) a horrible cook, and bad food looks, smells, and tastes even worse when you're 6 or 7 years old.

When strong-arming me to eat her revolting food didn't work, she always trotted out the "If a boy over there saw this food, he'd be SO happy!".
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:41 AM
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My parents never used this tactic, but it would have been Ethiopia or Africa in general based on the news of 70's/80's when I was growing up.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:14 PM
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Asia. I remember my father punctuated the point one time by grabbing a magazine and showing me an ad for UNICEF or CARE or some organization like those, with a picture of an Asian baby.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:55 PM
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My mother just said "Eat it or wear it." No other coercion was needed.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:00 PM
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My parents never said this to us. They weren't and still aren't that worldly to care where there may be starving children.

But as a child I was aware of the starving children in Bangladesh since my mom, even though not worldly, was a Beatles fan and had the Concert for Bangladesh album. When I turned 7, the collective consciousness turned to the starving children of Ethiopia due to Live Aid.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:02 PM
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There were six of us being raised by a single mom. There were people starving right there. Not much question about eating, if it was there; we ate it.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:08 PM
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Dad: Never heard that line from him.
Grandparents: America, Great Depression.

"I used to eat a hard-boiled egg for lunch because that was all we had. Stop complaining."
"Don't drink water at work because if you go to the bathroom too many times the boss will fire you for malingering."
"I made $10/week, Shorty made $5, and we still saved!"

... and on, and on.

Last edited by JohnT; 02-13-2019 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:11 PM
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Never had it used on me personally, but there version I'm familiar with is "Africa".
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:11 PM
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It was ethopia when I was a kid.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:11 PM
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Africa. My friend's mom said 'theres starving people in China', but this was 1990 when she said that and I thought 'I don't think thats right'. Maybe in the early 70s, but not in 1990. Even I knew that was BS at that time.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:36 PM
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Africa.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:40 PM
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Never had the tactic directly used as a guilt trip, but the referent for my cohort was Biafra as well.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:52 PM
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Africa, or Ethiopia more specifically. I'm pretty sure my mom gave me an occasional "starving children in China" line at the end of dinner, but in the 80s, starving Africans were so prominent we got multiple pop supergroups singing songs about it.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:55 PM
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There were so many of us at the table nothing was ever leftover. If the lights went out at suppertime you might lose a body part. Daddy never had to make us eat.
At my house the lil'wrekker was the picky eater. I swear she has the constitution of a canary bird. Many, many days I had to beg her to eat. Starving kids in another place didn't matter to her, at all.
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