There are times I would like to live forever.
This post is dedicated to Clara Atkins, my high school English teacher. I last saw her at the 20th class reunion. She was old and frail at the time and did not live much longer after this photo was taken.
Mrs. Atkins told of growing up, a young bride, then a widow with five children, apparently devoting the remainder of her life to teaching the English language to small town students. Sometimes it may have seemed a thankless task, but her students never forgot. A Fort Worth newspaper ran a favorite teacher contest, and students rallied, massively collecting enough coupons to send her to New York to see Around the World in 80 Days on Broadway.
All the while I struggled under her whip. This obtuse language from an obscure island off the European coast was determined to defeat me. On an occasion my efforts were not enough, and I had an F on my report card. I was forced to try harder, finally out of high school and into college, where my woes continued. My crowning glory was to obtain an A in Technical Writing as I worked toward a degree in Engineering.
Later in life, as a manager of small engineering projects, it was my job to deal with reports prepared by recent college graduates. It became apparent that the language of obscurity was winning its relentless battle. Evidence of defeat was everywhere. I began to wonder whether our public schools had at last surrendered and in desperation had quit giving Fs in English. The signs were all about.
Now I’m finished with school and finished, even, with work. In my retirement I pour my thoughts and observations out onto this blog. And I still struggle. If grammatical blunders are thin on these pages, I owe a lot of that to a college roommate, who is a master of this language and capable in several others. If you miss seeing grammatical absurdities and horrendous typos, you have Byron Black from Bryan, Texas, to thank.
Which may or may not bring me to the subject of this post. First some history. In fact, how about a Quick History Lesson:
Facebook again. Somebody posted this on Facebook. It’s supposed to be a history lesson. In fact, it’s title is “Quick History Lesson.” It is quick.
My review of the Quick History Lesson details the flight of racists and other suppressive elements of American society from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The title comes from a meme posted on Facebook by a conservative friend, and it wants to paint the current Democratic Party as the party of racism and suppression.
My response was to turn the meme on its head and to note it is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, it’s a matter of liberals versus conservatives. When conservatives fled the Democratic Party, starting over 50 years ago, they found a home in the Republican Party. That has been an unhappy circumstance for the party that has in the past stood for so much of what is great about this country. The presidential campaign in progress this year is beginning to show some poison fruit from this union. More about this in another post. Things can develop between now and November.
In the mean time, my post on the Quick History Lesson continues to draw readership. 31 readers yesterday. 287 on 14 June. 20 so far today. And this political history story collects comments from time to time. I appreciate them all. Some are favorable. Some are delightfully not. Here are three received within the span of a few minutes this morning. They have been copied and pasted directly from the blog post. This is one of those times I would like to live forever:
These three are all from Tip Larkin and he (she?) is responding to comments posted by three others. You need to go to the blog post to sort it all out. Besides missing the point that the issue is liberal versus conservative rather than Democrat versus Republican, Tip illustrates his (her) point unintentionally. I was particularly struck by the irony of a juxtaposition within a single sentence:
He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.
Yes, the American education system has failed Tip, as it has so many others. Clara Atkins, please come back. We need you now more than ever.