Book Hippo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Once in ninth grade, my class was taking gym outside. We were playing grass hockey. I overheard our gym teacher say to the other gym teacher. "I don't know why, but this grade is the worst grade I've ever had." To which the other teacher replied. "I had them last year and they were the worst I ever had, too."

I wondered about this, about why this should be so and I think I've finally got an answer. As smaller children we were directly influenced by the older kids, the teenage hippies, who were telling us not to trust anyone over thirty, ie our parents. Of course our parents were telling us not to trust hippies, they would take you away and feed you drugs, you would think you were a bird and jump out the window and all sorts of other things. So I wonder if we just said to ourselves, since we can't trust anyone, we'll trust ourselves. As we know from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, children doing what they please does not set them free, it turns them loose.

One thing above all that I carried with me for most of my life was a distrust of older people. Now I consider it benign, I was not one of those who were frustrated at old people who took too long in line or couldn't move fast enough on the street, but still I thought of them as people who spent their life dreaming of olden days and forgetting what they were doing.

Then in the nineteen nineties, I began to do something I'd always wanted to do and that is trace my family genealogy. Instantly I found that not only were old people wonderful but irreplaceable. I found a woman near one hundred who had known my great-grandmother. She told me my great-grandmother used to pick up an onion and eat it like an apple. Priceless!

Other old people knew other things. Like one of my McLaughlin great-aunts married a man who was so strong that once, he walked into a restaurant he owned and found a man robbing the till. The man raced away, my relative followed. Deciding he might need a weapon, he reached down and picked a manhole cover up from the street and ran with it above his head, until he caught up with the guy, who surrendered.

Anyway, in some eyes it may make me a bad guy to have had such opinions of our aged folk but I'd be willing to take a little disparagement just to be able to realize that I've found something so much more precious in the minds of the old people.


  1. I am curious as to what year you graduated or high school or what year you were born, if you are bold enough.
    The reason I ask is I've heard comments close to this from teachers all the way through school, and upon graduation in 1984 they said we were the largest class, which had the worst and the brightest students of any class in the Schools History.
    I was born in 1966, which from what I can figure was the hieght of the World War II Baby Boomers having children, resulting in America as the class of 1984 being the largest in previous years, with a good cross between the best and the worst to come through in quite some time.
    Just an observation, don't know how truely relavent it is.

  2. I enjoy finding out about my family, too. I havaen't yet done a formal geneology study. What's most fun and interesting are the anecodtes. Now I am the oldest person on my dad's side of the family and everyone is depending on me to keep the stories going.

  3. What wonderful stories! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I taught first grade sunday school for a long time. One class was known as that class. Funny, it had my oldest son in it.