Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Break in Loonville

Usually during the last week of October, schools all across the state closed two days for "Teachers' Institute". Teachers were expected to spend these days attending workshops which were held at various sites across the state, ostensibly to "improve the quality of instruction" in the schools. Most of the larger functions were conducted by the largest of the teachers' unions; though to be sure it was never called a "union"; nor is it to this day. Please, on with the story.

Since at the time, teachers were paid for these days, but were expected to be able to show that they had indeed attended workshops, it was important that one select a site which offered the best opportunities for "extracurricular" activities. I don't know, don't want to know, what this meant to anyone else, but to me, it was an opportunity to take the family to Ft. Wayne, home of the wife's parents and extended family. Thus the kids got to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, and I was able to "fit in" a couple of workshops at the old "institute." Worked for everyone.

Some years I attended sessions in Indianapolis, particularly if there was to be a high-powered (famous) speaker at the opening session. Like you, I am (was) drawn to power and fame, even if it belonged to someone else. I've pretty much outgrown that.

One year, and as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up, Eleanor Roosevelt was the keynote speaker. I know some of you youngsters are saying, "Eleanor who?" but nevertheless, the educated or older ones amongst you know that Mrs. Roosevelt was a Force. And, yes, I am name-dropping. I haven't seen that many famous people in person.*
This two-day period is now and has been for many years, simply "Fall Vacation" and thus what one does with her or his time is, well, vacation.
*I could probably tick them off on the digits of my hands, and have two thumbs left over.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grandparents in Loonville

While we lived in Loonville, our children were blessed with an "extra" set of grandparents. Their biological grandparents lived an hour away, one set an hour north and one set an hour west. So when my co-worker, Marie, with whom I shared rides to work, met my family she immediately adopted the entire lot of us. She and her husband Orville were delighted to have the company of small children, for though they had been married thirty-three years, they had never had children of their own.

We would visit at their house, the kids sitting four abreast in the garden swing while Orville regaled them with beautiful kid-type stories. It was a shining moment in his life, for he never got to say anything when in adult company with his spouse. To say that she was the dominant force in the relationship is a bit of an understatement. In fact the household duties were his province, while she went to work to 'bring in the bacon.' They gave the appearance of being completely happy with their arrangement, and I suspect they were.

This couple even went so far as to hire me to paper, paint and do some minor remodeling in their living room. Given the level of my skills and the degree of talent I possessed in this area, one has to believe that they were doing me a favor by utilizing this service. And yet they completely managed to make it seem that they would be totally lost without me, knowing not what to do.

Good friends may be hard to find; but don't be surprised if you find one or two when you least expect it! Cherish your friends.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not a Dime

Tuesday evening. I stepped out of the drugstore with the PediaCare for which I had just spent my last dollar. Russell Reston had just pulled up to the curb in a spankin' new Olds "98" which still had the dealer-issue temporary cardboard plate in the rear window. Russ exited the vehicle, and we stood visiting a bit there on the sidewalk. Cars, crops, the economy in general; then Russ said, "You teachers got it made. Paycheck every two weeks. You got no idea what 'tough' is. Try bein' a farmer! I didn't make a dime this year. Not a dime!"

Sometimes enough is enough.

I said, "Russ, you maintained that beautiful home where you live, heated it, fed your family, bought the seed for next year's crop, and bought a new "98" and you don't have anything left. If I accounted for my income the way you do, I'd have to say I didn't make a dime, either. And it is three days until pay day and I don't have a dime."

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Football, You Bet!

Here we are in Loonville, Friday evening deep into high school football season! The air is crisp, but not bitingly cold. Nylon jackets will be the order of the night, as we gather at the football field for the kick-off between the Loonville Shawnees and the Podunk Hellions. Arch-arch rivals, districts separated only by county road 600 North, if you are coming from Podunk, or 1600 South if leaving Loonville. Same road either way.

Sometime since then, the mists of memory befogging the details, both communities recognized the political incorrectness of the one moniker and the social inappropriateness of the other. The teams have been redubbed "Hawks" and "Argonauts" respectively. These changes were just wrong on several levels, imho. Loonville is situated full within the stomping grounds of the Shawnees of old. What better way to honor them than by keeping their name alive? Yes, I know the history is not pretty. And as for Podunk calling themselves Hellions, I taught school there for six years, and that is not wrong.

Friday nights are no more intense in Texas than they are in Indiana when two hard-nosed teams harboring grudges and enmity meet on the field of honor. The Shawnees are coached by Jim Laird who for a man of his tender years (he's in his mid-forties) has the highest percentage wins over losses of any coach in the state. Virgil Grimes who coaches Podunk has more wins, but he is but a couple years from casting his bait into a lake in the Ozarks on a daily basis. The rivalry in football, back to the earliest date that both schools fielded football teams, stands at Shawnees 12, Hellions 11, deadlocks 4. Loonville must defend its honor and maintain the edge. Podunk, on the other hand, is riding a 32 game win streak and has only five more to go to set a state record.

There is no need relating the play-by-play, and how Corcoran, with but eight seconds, fourth and seventeen...

So anyway, Podunk is now riding 33, and there is no joy in Loonville.

© 2010 David W. Lacy