Stories

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Iiremember being scared. Most men and women feel the same when they start a new job. This apprehension is intensified when it is not only a new job but a first job in a profession you’ve spent the last six years of your life preparing for. I clearly remember my first classroom. The school was old and had a distinct odor all classrooms have.

I assume this is because of the hundreds of books that have been opened and closed or maybe the scents of the multitude of students who so desperately wanted to succeed so they could become what they wanted to become. Where ever the smell came from it was now being reinforced by this newest of teachers attempting to do something he always wanted to do.

The room was old but clean. I was surprised how shiny the floors were even though they were cracked and discolored. There were twenty or so desks in perfect lines waiting to be assigned students. The walls were remarkable void of any poster, piece of tape or hanging staple. The teacher who inhabited the room before me took down all her memories in order to make room for mine. There was a large desk at the front of the room. Like the walls it was cleaned and made ready for its new tenant.

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Tthe older I get the more I realize the ageing process has a tendency to shorten the length of the nerve that connects the brain to the mouth. In fact, the older one gets this nerve sometimes has a tendency to literally disappear.

The other day I walked into a group of colleagues talking about something I had nothing to do with. As to why I did this I don’t know but it was a choice between interrupting a conversation or going back to my desk in order to get some work done. As I listened I noticed one of the people in the conversation had a rather large mole growing on her face.

Since my room was at the opposite side of the school I rarely saw this individual. Instead of ignoring the mole I asked what the heck it was on her face. Needless to say this stopped all conversation, at which time the little group left attempting to console the woman who looked like she wanted to commit suicide.

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Wwhy are we always afraid of something new especially when we get older? I used to laugh at my parents after they got upset with me because of the new 8-track player in my car.

They were afraid it would take my mind off driving and thus get in an accident. I tried to explain there was little difference between the player and the radio. My father disagreed because there was talking on the radio that would somehow wake me up. I tried to explain to him that this is what put us to sleep but in those days one was only allowed a few seconds of argument. Times change but they don’t change much.

The other day I overheard a few of my colleagues talking about how they thought it would be a good idea to ban the use of I-pods in the school. Their reasoning was that the study that is going on today about how the ear pieces direct the sound onto the ear drum and thus has the capacity to cause damage. I butted into their conversation by stating that instead of outlawing the use of the I-pod we should teach our students how to use it.

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Sso far winter hasn’t been too bad to any of us in the New England area. We have enjoyed record spring-like temperatures and the concept of pulling out my snow blower once a week is a memory of last year.

Sure it has rained a lot but as long as what comes from the sky can go down the drain on the same day I am not complaining. The one aggravating thing I did experience this winter is surviving the winds even though they could be so much worse by reducing their temperatures by 30 degrees.

The other day as I was driving into my driveway I noticed my recycling bins were not where they were supposed to be. The night before I placed the loaded bins at the end of my driveway. I’ve done this ever since the recycling program began. On this particular occasion they were loaded because most of the neighborhood decided to suffer through the Patriots loss in front of my TV. This is never a problem except for the fact my recycling materials quadruples before the first half ends.

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Iican still remember that cold and sunny January day many years ago when I drove through Washington D.C. with my wife and young daughter, on our way to Atlanta. We saw a large crowd of people gathered in front of the Capitol building and I knew what was going on and I didn’t like it at all.

A B-movie actor named Ronald Reagan had just stolen the white house from Jimmy Carter and the Democrats. My country was going through tough times with massive unemployment, a national malaise caused by the Iran hostage crisis and an ever-growing despair that we had been defeated in a war that took tens of thousands of American lives and emotionally crippled an entire generation. I wondered how an actor was going to make things better? Hell, this particular actor was known to be so incompetent that people laughed openly at him. Who could have known that this would turn out to be his greatest strength – that he could laugh at himself too?

During the early 1980’s my opinion of this supposedly new style Republican was unshakeable. The nation continued to suffer through one of the worse recessions since the Great Depression. Everybody seemed to be out of work. Interest rates broke through the 20% barrier and, since I owned a business at this time, I knew I was destined for failure because of this Hollywood buffoon called Ronald Reagan. Every time he addressed the nation I would sit in front of my television set knowing his policies were leading my nation toward calamity.

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Ssimplicity is not what it is supposed to be!

It seems the most menial of tasks not only take the most time, they can make you feel like you need professional help for ever believing they could be easy.

My wife asked me to pick up a new set of wiper blades the other day because the ones on her car barely made it through the last winter. I went to the nearest auto supply store to buy the wiper blades for a 2002 Toyota Camry. I might as well have gone on a search for the Holy Grail!

The book of wiper blades, yes I did say book, was hanging from a rack that held what I assumed to be every windshield wiper that been built since the days before cars had windshields. The numbers ranged from A-1 to ZZ’b-287C. After about an hour of attempting to figure out what number would fit my car, a young man aged about three came over and figured out which replacement wiper I should bring home.

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Ii am a dinosaur!

I know it and many of my colleagues whom I’ve spent decades teaching with also clearly understand this.

We are being replaced by the concepts of multiple intelligences and brain-based learning. Our philosophies of disciplined teaching styles are said to be obsolete and ineffective. In other words, the mammals are taking over. Let me explain. I’ve been teaching high school science since the early part of the 1980’s. I have many colleagues at Newmarket Jr. / Sr. High School in Newmarket, New Hampshire who have taught for well over three decades. In fact, some have taught for so long that they are now teaching the children of the students they taught many years before.

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Ppresident Bush once stated that war with Iraq was inevitable. The debate over going to war with other nation has been raging in our Congress and our newspapers for many years now.  I wonder if President Bush understood what the word ‘inevitable’ meant?

Going to my favorite Webster’s Dictionary, that is now being held together by duct tape, I looked up the traditional definition of the word ‘inevitable’. It states that inevitable is: “incapable of being avoided or evaded and an instance that is bound to happen.” I started to think about things in my life that I considered ‘inevitable’.

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Aabout 90 percent of the 258 York citizens voted against the development of a casino at a straw poll sponsored by the York’s Chamber of Commerce. In fact, businesses were encouraged to vote separately and of the twenty-nine voting, 75 percent voted against casino development.

According to printed reports, Cathy Goodwin, who is executive director of the chamber, stated that many voters noted on ballots specific areas of concern including traffic congestion, loss of quality of life in the region, and the belief a casino would present the wrong image for the State. As I sat in my car waiting for the traffic to let me enter onto Route One, I remembered a time when I barely saw a car on the road.

During this time of year few people ventured out because few people lived here all year long. I remember one time about 35 years ago when I drove out on Broadway from my home on Iris Avenue. Back then I never looked for traffic and because of this I almost ran into the only other car on the road. The accident scene would have looked like a bowling ball hitting a ten-pin. I took the time to reminisce about some of my experiences with the wonderful world of gambling. The first time I had ever walked into a casino happened about 20 years ago when my wife and I decided to vacation in Las Vegas. Actually it was just a two-day stopover because the bulk of our vacation was in Hawaii.

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Ffor as long as I have known my niece and her husband they have yearned to have a summer home in York. Last spring they finally had the opportunity to buy a summer cottage on Norton Avenue, near the beach. They were thrilled, even though the cottage needed a lot of work.

They bought it with everything included: furniture, rugs, beds and a massive amount of junk. My wife and I shared their excitement by taking a bottle of champagne over to crack amidst the cobwebs. Despite the mess, my niece Kelly was thrilled with her new summer home. We shared her awe as she sifted through the massive amount of junk that included everything from 1950’s vintage cat ornaments to books that hadn’t been opened since the Eisenhower administration.

An old box in the corner of the den caught my wife’s eye and as she rummaged through it she picked out a set of cream colored ginger jars. The reason she called them ginger jars was that each one bore a picture of a ginger plant. They must have been 50 years old and were in odd sizes, ranging from the size of a peanut butter jar to a big cookie jar. My wife asked Kelly if she wanted to get rid of them and Kelly told her the sooner they got rid of all the accumulated junk, the faster they could move in. Plus, who would want a bunch of old jars anyway? Apparently she’d been trying to give them away for days, without success.

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