More than our share of wars
More than our share of wars
Every generation experiences wars and conflict. It seems to me that the post WWII generation has had too much. Do the facts indicate that we have had more war than other generations? The answer is, it appears so. See this reference: http://americanhistory.about.com/library/timelines/bltimelineuswars.htm.
From Patchwork And So Forth ©2007 James A. George, All Rights Reserved.
“Chapter 19 My Dark Ages
In school, I elected to take music. I did this in the Seventh and Eighth Grades. Mrs. Mayes and Mrs. Wrenchler were my teachers. In my heart I was more enthusiastic about music class than any others. In their classroom, I was a complete cut up and disruptive.
I liked the teachers, and I enjoyed the class experience. It was too much of a good thing and my enthusiasm was unbridled.
What was going on? For one thing, I could sing. I had one of the best voices among the boys. Both teachers liked that, and I would perform for them as they wanted. But, in between, I would ad lib different versus, and jazz up the music with soulful interpretations that deviated from the score. I made people laugh, and I loved the attention.
Patience wore thin, but these teachers stuck with me. They taught me new songs and arranged for me to be a featured performer in the context of ensemble and glee club. I participated in musical productions and loved every minute of it.
They looked upon me as a problem student, troubled and troubling, I know.
Mrs. Mayes instructed singing music from Oklahoma. I especially liked Oh What a Beautiful Morning and she asked that I perform a solo of this in an assembly. She also instructed a song about Geronimo, the Indian. “With his white man’s tricks, and thunder sticks, he knew the fateful odds. And he vowed to fight by his tribal rights for all his Indian Gods. Soon panic came at his very name and thousand men lay dead.”
We rehearsed this many times as the mixed glee club. I substituted “eggs” for “dead” and convinced my classmates to insert it which they did. Doing this once was funny and the teacher laughed. Doing it over and over with or without my classmates made her angry. She was afraid that I or we might do this in a public performance. I liked to keep her guessing and for that, I had to sit out of the number.
These are my dark ages, 1960-1964. My mind goes nearly blank on those school years as I did not like the institutional approach that began with students attending a “Home Room” at the start of Seventh Grade classes. This seemed to me to be an administrative waste of time. Then, we got to classes where I cannot remember teachers’ names because they were so unremarkable. I remember an English teacher of exceptional note, though the rest simply don’t register and that is why my once stellar marks on the report card dropped to B’s from A’s. I was hanging in there, but it was a struggle.
One teacher, Miss Lawrence seemed to have it in for me; she caught me talking in study hall a number of times. I had history with her, I think, and she was emphatic that I not talk unless spoken too. She conveyed an attitude that begot the worst from me.
I took Industrial Arts classes as that was a requirement. I got along especially well with a teacher, Mr. Holmes, who observed my exceptional drafting skills. He gave me progressively more difficult assignments than others in the class as he was teaching descriptive geometry to me that normally comes a couple of years later.
I enjoyed this. I also enjoyed a new teacher who joined the school for this period, Glenn Davis. Mr. Davis was an Olympic track and field champion and motivated me to participate in track events.
I had a science teacher whose name was Mr. Fonto. Mr. Fonto was exceptionally kind and aware of his students’ dispositions. He took interest in me as he was a friend of Mr. Holmes. My grades in science were A’s and this would contrast with a grade in History of C from Miss Lawrence.
Something was wrong in which I would excel in a difficult class and be average in a subject less challenging. Now, I believe that my academic disparity had to do with being bored silly, and with teachers that were more concerned about administration and discipline than actually teaching.
I must be more analytic and reflective in writing about the period. I was searching for my being and it took a long time before I rejoined society on stable footing. I was hyper and the doctor prescribed medicine to slow me down. I had severe attention deficit disorder.
I had friction at home too. My Dad and I quarreled constantly as he had no patience for my moodiness. Dad was not equipped to handle the likes of me, though I wonder sometimes if he had not experienced something of the same, though the Mt. Gilead environment seemed to be more accommodating and healing.
Dad bugged me because he seemed to draw so much attention to us in public situations. Being a developing teen, I didn’t want to be so conspicuous. Here is an example. We would shop at J C Penny for shirts and trousers where I would often run into schoolmates.
One day, a girl from my class was standing adjacent a table of boys trousers. Dad held up a pair of trousers and said in his loud voice, “Jimmy, see the triangle sewn into the crotch of these pants. That means they are of poor quality because the tailor was making the pants from scraps.”
The embarrassing word was “crotch.” He blurted it out.
Then followed the ordeal of trying on clothing: “Jimmy, you must buy a pair larger than you need because you are growing so fast,” he said.
I just didn’t need all of the discussion in a public place. I hated wearing pants that draped over my shoes. Sure, I would grow out of them, but they would probably wear out first.
With my constant complaining, Dad made a declaration, “Jimmy, you can buy and wear whatever you want, but you must pay for it yourself!”
At age 12 years, with those words I found a solution. Find a job and generate my own income and that would provide me with a degree of freedom.
I expanded from cleaning Rudy’s Barber Shop to mowing the lawn at Ward’s Hardware Store where I also learned to cut glass. Mr. Ward queued up some window pane orders for me on Saturdays and I would cut inside, before cutting the lawn outside.
Mr. Ward also asked that I dust the merchandise. He had a collection of various dishware, pots and pans, and butter dishes, etc that needed dusting once a week. I saw a butter dish that I liked and bought it for Mother as a gift.
On the way to Ward’s Hardware along Cleveland Avenue, someone opened a trampoline business. Can you imagine a business made by digging holes in the ground and installing trampolines that one would rent by the hour? These were crazy times. I tried this a few times, though the place was so busy, I didn’t want to wait in line. When I did try it, I hurt my back a couple of times and gave it up. Those were the days before big liability suits I guess.
When Mike was around, we boys would sometimes play miniature golf. We were all so good at this that we rarely had to buy more than one round because we would win so many free games. We were caught up in the hoola hoop craze as well. One had to master these things to be socially acceptable.
My Dad encouraged me to be strong in engineering related classes, math and engineering drawing. I did this with a degree of appreciation for the subject. Though, my study skills had slackened and I was not intelligent enough to fake my way through difficult courses. My studies suffered, though eventually, I found the desire to move ahead academically, to get out of the doldrums.
Dad really helped this along as he realized that improving the neighborhood and school would be desirable. He actually asked me where I thought we should live.
I thought about this. I knew where the “good” kids lived and while walking through the neighborhood after visiting friends I saw a “for sale” sign in front of a house that looked perfect for us. I wrote down the address and phone number and gave it to Mother: 1303 Fowler Drive.
Back in the neighborhood, my relationship with Mike had strained. One reason is that he spent more time with the Triano boys next door and with their cousin who was a cute girl living in Upper Arlington. With my being ahead a year in school and attending different classes, we just didn’t spend time together as we once did. By the time that Mom and Dad decided to buy the house on Fowler drive, Mike and I were in a fight.
All that was too bad because I appreciated him; he told to me his dream in life. He wanted to become “Michael David McCandless, MDM, MD,” he said.
Mike helped me cope in moving from rural Ohio to a tough little urban neighborhood. He taught me how to get into shape athletically and gave to me endurance. He showed me how to solve problems imaginatively, and when to use force if necessary. He was a very smart person and our education system failed to identify and nurture this.
One of his sisters had a mental disability, and Mike showed tremendous concern for her. When playing around his house, he would always try to include her. This is one of many examples of his compassion as I saw this demonstrated in how he treated many other people who needed a stronger hand.
I told you before that Mike died in Viet Nam as a Lance Corporal. His Dad was a Marine, and he always wanted to be one too.
I have to share a story about one Halloween when Mike and I went trick-or-treating together. We knew we would get all the treats we wanted and did so. We also knew that we wanted to pull a trick on the firemen at the firehouse because they gave us grief at the playground sometimes. They would throw us off the court if they wanted to play basketball for instance.
We went to the firehouse. Mike tapped on the window in the room where they were watching television. I scribbled soap on the window. They leaped from their beds and ran outside to catch us.
We could have escaped easily, though our intention was to soap all of their windows with them running around the firehouse trying to catch us. The chase ensued with lots of yelling at us.
As planned, when Mike got to the homeward side of the firehouse, he sprinted toward home with great speed. Not quite as fast, I tried the same exit though I had a fireman on my tail. It was very dark, and as I approached a parked car, I dived under it. I disappeared right before his eyes.
I saw his boots from underneath the car where I tried to control my breathing as to not give away my position. He yelled, “You little SOB, I know you’re there. Come out where I can see you.” He didn’t look at his feet and under the car where I lay giggling.
He eventually walked off and I came out and ran to Mike’s house where we had our last big laugh together.
We moved. My friendship with Mike was never the same. I saw him when I was a senior in High School. He had already joined the Marines and was home just before his departure to Viet Nam. He had a nice motorcycle, and sat high and proud as he talked with me. I hoped that he would be OK, and thought that he would because he was in such good shape.
A bullet hit his forehead the report said, and he was gone in a flash. I visited his name and touched it at the Wall in Washington DC and cried uncontrollably as I thought about how his life was taken by our Country on such an ill-thought war. The little people always pay for the powerful mistakes, it seems to me. Mike was a big guy with big hopes, and I trust he held them in his mind and spirit as he departed for the home of the brave.
God bless you Mike.”