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Comments: Big Crayons and More

June 12, 2015

Lots of comments from readers the last few weeks.

The latest story, “Big Crayons,” hit home with a number of you, especially those with an artistic bent. Evidently, many teachers didn’t quite know what to do with those of us who colored outside the lines.

Beth had this to say:

Dear Ed,

An artist friend of mine told me that his also very artistic 9-year-old had an assignment for reading in which they were supposed to order a series of pictures into a logical sequence. Well, that was too boring for this dreamy, very imaginative boy, so he drew other pictures and turned the story into a detective mystery thing. It was a Fail, of course.

Maybe your teacher didn’t want to embarrass the other kids? Still wasn’t a sensitive way to handle it. But then again, pedagogy was very different then.

Can’t believe it’s been 19 stories! Keep it up!

Susanne added:

And the rest is history!!
Love all of your stories even if some memories are difficult to revisit.

Kathleen had similar experiences:

This is a great piece and yah, me too, sort ‘a. I was in 1st or 2nd grade. The teacher gave us one blank piece of paper and another with four characters to color and cut out. There was a dog, a cat, and two others, which were to be pasted onto the blank sheet. I arranged them so that three looked closer and one was higher on the picture plane because it was further away.

Mine didn’t get hung up either, and that was unusual. I asked the teacher why. She said it looked like the rabbit was about to jump on the head of the dog! Oh brother! We artists are misunderstood and then we try to make a living at it! Well, this is what I had going.

Ed, We’re about the same age. I was born in Wisconsin, the North to your South. Love the way you capture our youth and the youth in our country at that time. Thank you.

 

Suellen wondered:

Why did your teacher act so strangely? She’s from Mars, obviously.

Actually, I think my teacher did exactly the right thing. I didn’t do the work she assigned, and had she indulged me she might have created a monster. Over time she found creative ways to nurture both my art and my intellect that didn’t disrupt the class. I remember Ms. Mayes fondly as one of the best teachers I ever had.

A number of readers had things to say about the previous story, “Bumpers,” and the blog entry that followed.

Elaine said:

Hi Ed! Enjoy reading Sleeper Ave; brings back so many childhood memories.

I don’t know what was happening in the news at the time—I was in the 5th or 6th grade I think, but I vividly recall that one day I was on the floor cleaning out my closet when my mom came in and said she wanted to talk to me about something. She said I might hear someone say something bad at school about Negroes but that that was wrong and I should never say or think that and that I should be nice to everyone. I was like, “okay,” but I didn’t really know what she was talking about and I never did hear anyone say anything to that effect. I don’t remember reflecting much, at the time, on what she’d said, but this memory that has been seared in my brain ever since.

Priscilla’s had similar experiences:

Growing up in Waco, I heard bigots all the time. But, my parents didn’t allow the “N” word to be used in our house. My dad always said “We’re too poor to be prejudiced”. Anytime someone used such language, Mother would wait until out of their hearing and then tell me to pay attention to how ignorant such remarks were. Of course, she also said, (when someone talked about “white trash”) “trash is trash, it doesn’t have anything to do with color”. Growing up in our neighborhood, I didn’t even know that ANYONE was prejudiced against Mexicans!

Chet had these comments:

Thanks for your considered statements on “Bumped”.

They are wise and worthy in our current (probably since the 60’s) political & socio-economic climate.

The current focus of the “goings on” as a result of the Twin Peaks War here in Waco are a prime example.

I too fear we spend far too much time trying to make our world fit our beliefs and far too little time trying to understand where and how we can fit it.

Sad.

Robin noted:

It’s a fundamental rule of parenthood– Your kids will probably remember all the wrong things from their childhood.

I received a number of responses to the stories about Uncle Elihu and Zeebo that I wasn’t able to include earlier.

Alan remembers:

Thanks for the follow up and the link to Comic Strip of the Day. While I was more a Zeebo fan than Uncle Elihu, the (Uncle Elihu) reunion film clip was great nostalgia.

Barney said:

For Me it was “Barnaby,” a local Cleveland personality with a big-eared straw hat, red stripe Jacket. His name was Linn Shelton. I got a lot of teasing as Barney and Barnaby were close.

“Hello little neighbors, Barnaby’s the name.”  He was on every day after school. He  tried to be a ventriloquist, but you could watch his lips with him mouthing for Long John, his fake parrot. He was always at events…a local  hero.

He and Captain Penny. Nothing like them now…so sad!

Finally, Louis had some kind words for my efforts:

I enjoy the fact that you don’t mind making a little joke on yourself…..a little self deprecating humor is fun….not taking yourself too seriously makes many of your musings light hearted for all of us….because we have all been there. Keep up the good work.

Thanks to all of you for your comments.