Monday, April 1, 2013

Reason #17,643 Why I Am The Way I Am

[Editor’s note. As long as I’m poking around in the archives, here’s another post of mine from April 2009. --RWP]

I am looking at a picture of myself at age 15, sitting in front of an upright piano. The year, if you must know, is 1956. I am wearing a light gray suit, a white shirt, and a snazzy bow tie. My hair, helped along by a liberal dab of Brylcreem, is neatly combed into its usual pompadour. My hands seem to be caressing the keys. A thinner, younger version of myself looks at the camera. I am smiling.

I am not at one of Mrs. Alyne Eagan’s annual spring recitals. Those were always held at the First Baptist Church so her students could play on the big, shiny, black grand piano. No, I am somewhere else.

Jumping forward to the present, I am hopelessly out of date, techologically speaking. I own a television set, but it is not one of those new flat, high-def ones. My version of Old Man River just sits there in its corner but it still keeps rolling along. I do own a VCR (I can hear you laughing) and a CD player and even a DVD player, but I do not own a DVR or a TIVO or a Kindle or whatever is the latest thing on the market. I do not own a Camcorder or a digital camera, an iPod or an iPhone, nor do I own a special drive or device that uploads instant photos into my computer instantly. Therefore, I cannot show you the picture.

I know. It’s pathetic.

Yesterday I rummaged through a cardboard box in a corner of the spare bedroom and found a fifty-year-old scrapbook. My mother put together three scrapbooks when I was young to record my every move, it seems, for posterity. The two earliest scrapbooks have disappeared, but I still have the one covering my high school years. I hadn’t looked at it in a very long time until yesterday, when I found it while rummaging through that cardboard box in a corner of the aforementioned spare bedroom.

Today, therefore, I could tell you, if I wished, about my Junior prom or my Senior play or the time the Future Teachers of America Club went to the District V Convention of the Future Teachers of America at North Texas State College in Denton. But instead I am going to tell you about Municipal Building Dedication Day in our small Texas town on September 15, 1956. That’s where the photo of me was taken. It appeared a few days later in the center of a half-page collage of eleven photographs in our town’s weekly newspaper. Our town had never had a Municipal Building (or, as it turns out, a police car) before, so it was a really big deal.

I wish I had a handy-dandy digital camera so I could take a digital picture of the yellowed newspaper page, and I wish I had one of those fancy-schmancy uploading devices so I could upload to my computer the digital picture taken with the handy-dandy digital camera so you could see it. But, alas, I do not have a handy-dandy or fancy-schmancy anything. Well, actually, I do, but this is a G-rated blog.

Bartleby.com lists five proverbs that start with the word if :

1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
2. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad will go to the mountain.
3. If the shoe fits, wear it.
4. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
5. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Can you guess which one of those proverbs applies to my situation? It’s the fourth one, of course. Just because you guessed correctly, don’t think you’re going to get any sort of prize from me. I am not that ranch woman in Oklahoma who holds contests that hundreds of commenters enter hoping to win one of her prizes.

So anyway, lacking the handy-dandy digital camera and the fancy-schmancy uploading device, I am forced to do my best imitation of Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls (“Picture it, Sicily, 1922”) and describe the collage on the yellowed newspaper page using words alone. What a concept! Here goes:

Picture it, [small Texas town], Municipal Building Dedication Day, 1956....

I just can’t do it justice. Instead, I will reproduce the captions under the collage, highlighting Reason #17,643 why I am the way I am.

“DEDICATION DAY IN PICTURES. (1) Serving as program chairman for the Council Women was Mrs. E. C. Harris. (2) Mr. Anderson, speech and drama teacher in [small Texas town] High School did a wonderful job as master of ceremonies. (3) Mayor Halbert made everyone feel welcome. (4) Mr. W. A. Lamb, Chamber of Commerce president, complimented the city officials on a job well done. (5) The main speaker, Mr. June R. Welch, paid homage to the past, respect for the present, and pointed avenues for the future. (6) Teen-ager Bobby Brague shown at the piano. The piano got a fresh coat of paint for this special occasion. (7) Ex-Mayor Harrison gave an interesting historical background of [small Texas town]. (8) City Chief-of-Police, Gene Cannon, proudly showed off the first police car purchased by the city. (9) Standing by the cornerstone is Lynn Ellis, president of the [small Texas town] Jaycees. (10) Seated by the resuscitator in the new Tarrant County Mobile Unit displayed by the Volunteer Fire Department is Rev. Charles Sullivan. (11) Police Chief Cannon demonstrated the strength of the bars in the new city jail to Mr. McBride and Katherine Peterson. Since it was their first visit Chief Cannon gave them permission to go free.”

Perhaps I should have highlighted the entire paragraph.

It occurs to me that I really didn’t need to show you the collage. Just think of the entire cast of The Andy Griffith Show and you’ll get the picture.


[Editor’s P.S. -- This is not an April Fool’s Day joke. I only wish it were. --RWP]

5 comments:

Vagabonde said...

I am out of date too – we have a VCR but it has been broken for years – we don’t have a DVD player. I do own a digital camera but no smart phone (we use the phone on the wall.) I don’t have an iPod and don’t do Facebook or Tweeter or anything like that. Actually I don’t watch much TV at all (my husband does though.) My grand children started using computers in daycare!
To get back to my comment of yesterday – I did not find out about Mother Theresa at first from Hindus (I don’t know any- my daughter’s in-laws are Christian Indians) or Extremist Christian Protestants as I don’t know any either– no, I found out about her through two different nurses who worked with her in India – women who did not hold a grudge but were in the medical profession and knew what they were talking about. The care there was terrible. (Both my daughter and her husband are in the medical profession too.) This was a medical problem more than a religious problem.

rhymeswithplague said...

Vagabonde, the references to technology in my post are as of five years ago. Today I do have a DVD player and as of the first of this year, an iPhone (4GS). I suppose I will have to try to find that picture of me on Municipal Building Dedication Day, and if I find it, I will add it to the post.

LightExpectations said...

1) The "if" proverb I thought applied to you was #2, and that you were going to take matters in hand, and find a way to show us the photo.

2) Question: If in 1956 you were a Future Teacher of America, are you, in 2013, a past teacher?

rhymeswithplague said...

LightExpectations, you never know, I just may find that old photograph again!

I never did become a certified teacher as the first Education course I took when I was a know-it-all college sophomore struck me rather like Chalk-Holding 101, plus I had heard that being able to run a projector was actually a 400-level course called Audio-Visuals. Those two experiences soured me on the prospect, and my teaching career came to a screeching halt rather early. Later I went into the Air Force, where Uncle Sam's aptitude tests decreed that I should become a computer programmer. Even later, in civilian life, I programmed computers and wrote technical manuals and taught users of distribution systems screens how to, er, use distribution systems screens. So it all worked out in the long run.

Snowbrush said...

I still want to see that photo of you. We have two of the new-fangled cameras, two iPods, a DVD player (I sure miss the VCR that could be recorded on), and a flat-screen. I highly recommend all of these. As for cellphones, we don't have one of those, or any of the rest of the new technology.