Three Bites Is The Rule - Dinnertime manners for a lifetime

Sometimes I just act as a "poetic catalyst" and the family members effectively end up rewriting a lot of the words. This is fine by me, as it is the end result that is important. This was certainly true in this case and a big team effort resulted in most of my original verses being "enhanced" by a family member. Sadly, a lot of verses didn't make the cut and my original version was a lot longer. However, the title and the theme survived and the poem obviously had a nice message to deliver.  I also had a lot of base material to work from, if you would like to skip the request, then please click here.

Hi Allen!  Thanks for your email. 

This is a preliminary of what we would like: 

Standard poem for our Mom and Dad for the 50th wedding anniversary on July 25th. 

Some key things to know about our parents:

Dad is a retired General in the US army.  They have 5 children, 3 boys, 2 girls. (names in order of birth: Steven, Susan, John, Jeff and Julie)  All of the kids are college educated and have great jobs (my parents are very proud of this). 

They met as neighbors (lived across the street from each other)

My Father graduated from West Point my Mom from University of Maryland.  They have spent their married life moving to different military bases around the world.  They retired from the Army in the Spring of 1983.  They moved to El Paso, Texas after the retirement and since have built their dream home and also have  a condo in the beach in Sarasota Florida.  (be sure to put something about that condo in the poem, my Mom is very proud of that!)   Also my mom just bought a baby grand piano- a lifelong dream of hers!

Allen, this is just a few tidbits to get started. I will have some fun stories to send you later today.  Thanks, Julie Hutchinson, Austin, Texas

Allen:I have just sent you the deposit info.  Below are some stories and more info for you.  thanks, Julie

What are the key messages you would like the poem to send ? 

Mom and Dad raised 5 successful children and provided college educations for all 5 children (on one income)

They were a loving couple who always put family first which made it fun growing up in our family

Our pride in learning from them how to set goals and attain them (college, Dad becoming a General, Mom's focus on the family) They were very good at teaching us financial obligations and saving our money and spending wisely

Do you have any funny, sad, happy, embarrassing or otherwise memorable moments that you would like to share ? 

While our family was stationed in Germany My Dad and brother Jeff flew to England to pick up a TR7 sports car.  It was my borther Jeff most prized possesion- he was only 132 at the my dad got the car, but he waxed and washed it almost every other day.  My other brother John (19 at the time) came home from college for a family visit.  He asked my Dad to take the car out for  a date and wrecked it complety.  It was totaled.  Jeff was devestated

I always think about dinner time and how everyone got a chance to talk about their day and share stories at the table.  We got a say in our family vacations which was fun.  I always felt like I had a voice in the family.

I always felt special when I got time alone with Mom and/or when we ran an errand together or something

I loved it when they went out and we got McDonald's for!

mom chasing us with a fly swatter when we were bad, saying "just wait till your father gets home!"

- We had a  secret room in the 4th floor attic in our house in Kansas where friends would hide when they ran away


 My parents put a pool in our back yard in El Paso. They told us never to jump from the roof of the house into the pool.  We all did it anyway!!  (when they weren't looking)

I remember when Dad was coming home from overseas and Mom was running around the house getting ready....she dressed in a mini skirt and picked him up at the airport and then they spent the night at a hotel.  Even back then, I thought this was pretty cool.

Vacations were pretty fun....we packed the station wagon with sleeping bags and settled in for a loooooong drive.  We must have driven them crazy!

Going to the drive-in movies as young kids....we got in our pajamas and popped popcorn and got to watch the movie from the back of the car.

Mom's tenacity in taking care of 5 kids while Dad was overseas on 3 separate tours

The opportunities we had growing up in a military overseas, meeting people from different cultures, traveling Europe, etc.

We always went for Sunday drives and would stop at 7-11 to get a slurpee

Do you have any other comments or thoughts? 


Hope this information that is coming in is not too confusing.  This will be the last one.   So now you have the info we want in the poem.  Oh yes, please do mention someplace that they have 5 grandchildren- all girls.  See below...


What are the key messages you would like the poem to send ? 

50 years of marriage, five successful children, five beautiful granddaughters. 

Do you have any funny, sad, happy, embarrassing or otherwise memorable moments that you would like to share ? 

Thought from the middle son John:  Mom also told me when her friend first saw me, she said "here comes trouble" and I lived up to it as a teenager: wrecked and totaled the Triumph TR-7 sports car on the German autobahn,  move to Amsterdam without permission as a high school senior for six weeks, wrecked the Ford pinto and a motorcycle in college, has the only divorce in the family, but, it all turned out OK: now owns a successful internet business selling Used PCs and is re-married to a beautiful, lovely and intelligent lady (Holly) with three great daughters (Tamara, Lauren and Ali).

Thoughts from childhood: driving cross country and Dad did not want to stop for every bathroom break so he brought a mason jar for us to pee one ever did, but Dad got to keep on driving.

We drove the big ford station wagon from the Army base in Germany to Italy thru the Alps.  Those Italians sure stared at the fake wood paneling on the big American station wagon.  Something about a young communist guy trying to pick up my big sister Susan while in Italy.  We got to climb the leaning tower in Pisa (spelling?) and sit in St. Mark's Square in Venice

Jeff graduated from Texas A&M corp of cadets while Dad was the commanding general of the ROTC region.  General Dad inspected the corp of cadets in the back of the jeep while the family was sitting in the grandstands...two Air Force F-15 tomcats over flew the parade ground and went vertical right over our heads..very proud moment.

One Christmas I was the only kid to come home, so my parents took me on a cruise sailing thru the panama canal (1995).  Dad had sailed thru the canal on the way to live in the Philippines 60 years earlier when he was a little boy.

Do you have any other comments or thoughts ?


Sorry to bother you one more time, but I thought of something that might be very cute to add.  We had a family dinner every night and my mom would serve vegetables all the time. We did not like them and she would say "3 bites is the rule".  We had to have at least 3 bits!  If you find a place where the phrase "3 bites is the rule" would fit, that would be great!



Three Bites Is The Rule

Family and friends and Distinguished guests
Can I have your attention please?
Every now and then in life
There are opportunities to seize.

These are two very special people,
that's why we're celebrating tonight,
It is their 50 years of marriage
and oh what a delight!

Pat and Hutch first met as neighbors,
Living across from each other on the same street,
and it didn't take long for fate to take a hand,
it didn't take long for two soul-mates to meet.  

 Dad graduated from West Point, Mom from Maryland,
 they spent their life moving from base to base,
 they retired and built their dream home in El Paso,
and their condo in Sarasota is a favorite place.

They've had five children along the way,
All quite accomplished, wouldn’t you say?
Our lives are filled with wonderful memories,
Delightful Experience, travel and stories.

We dined as a family every night,
While everyone shared their news of the day
Of course as parents you'd say; "three bites is the rule",
And since Mom cooked the entire meal, she got her say! 

With moves to make and car trips to take ,

the station wagon was a good place to be,
but Dad wouldn't stop for hardly a break,
so he took a potty jar for mommy and me.  

And now there are five grandchildren,
all pretty girls, all ribbons and hair beautifully curled,
and they too, are very proud of their grandparents,
and think that you're the best in whole wide world.

We are very grateful for our parent's bliss,
We know that we are blessed from above,
because are caressed by their kindness,
and we are surrounded by their love.

 Both Mom and Dad set such a fine example,
they taught us the important things in life,
manners, education, honor, love and kindness,
and most of all, how to be husband and wife.

And their love has been our inspiration,
and their sunshine has warmed us all,
and because of their belief in us,
we're  loving our lives and having a ball.

It used to be three bites is the rule,
but I think it should have been three rights,
you taught us to have the right attitude, right goals, right family,
and rightly so, you are our inspirational lights.

So we'd just like to say we love you,
that's really what these words are for,
here's to you Mom and Dad,
and here's to many, many more.

Copyright Allen Jesson :) 2003


The 50th wedding anniversary was wonderful!  I think my parents really enjoyed the poem.  Thanks for all your work.  We did change it a bit and would like the version below (above) to be the one that is put on the certificate.  I am also attaching a picture of our family so that you can now put our faces to all the hard work you did with the poem.  This picture was taken just before the party started. I am the one in the maroon Dress next to my niece with the long brown hair and black and while stripped shirt.

Nice working with you! Julie Hutchinson"

(Click to see larger image)