A Childhood Memory


When I was a little kid, my family went to a parade. It was wonderful. All the men marching in step, the tanks rolling by, all the armor, jeeps, and first and foremost, the flag flying high over everything. I remember the sky was bright blue, making the colors of the flag stand out, each color brilliant and fresh. A band marched by, playing loud and proud. When they passed us, they were playing Grand Old Flag. It was all so exciting. My mother kept us kids under control, but the entire crowd was cheering, like they were welcoming heroes home. It was the Fourth of July and we were in Germany in the early 1960’s. Somewhere among those marching men was my father.

I was too young to recognize the importance of that post WWII and post Korea moment. I grew up in the military, I thought everyone’s dad marched in long lines and wore a uniform if they were American. It was normal. All the kids I knew, except for the few locals in our area, had dads who wore uniforms. The women and children in our house area waited for dads and husbands to come home from “the field” just like we did. And everywhere we went, from the school to the doctor’s building, there was a flag with the same bright colors flying above it. It was normal.

When my dad left the military, I was shocked to see buildings without the flag, people without uniforms of any kind, and complete disrespect for any sort of organization. It was hard to become a civilian, I missed the comfort of normal. I missed the feeling of security I had always had, even in the midst of the cold war that could send us on a bus or train with one bag for our whole family at a moment’s notice. I was never unsure, I was never alone, as long as there was a man in a uniform like my dad wore.

One day, I was at school very early for some reason. I was wandering around waiting for school to open when I saw the janitor come out of the building. He unfolded a flag, and pulled it up the flagpole. There, against the bright blue sky, the colors of my flag unfurled. As the wind caught it, the flag waved proudly above the land around it. In my mind I heard Grand Old Flag, as the janitor stepped back and saluted with all the dignity and honor of a soldier. Tears came to my eyes, because to me, he no longer wore a gray shirt and pants of a janitor, he wore a uniform of a soldier, and I knew as long as there were men who had served, men who knew the value of freedom and sacrifice, we would be safe.

Today life is very different in our country. But still, men and women serve to protect what is ours, and our freedom. No matter what politics you hold, no matter what lifestyle you profess, no matter where you live, the military protects you. The flag some spit on, burn, and trample still flies proudly from front porches, flag poles, and buildings. Be it against smoke from a riot, storms, or skies of bright blue, the flag still watches over our land and our people. The little girl in my past and the old woman I am today salute them. In memory of all those who have served to protect our homeland from the Revolutionary Founders through today, Thank You and God Bless America.

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Interlude


When we went out for ice cream the other day, a mother with identical twin girls got in line behind us. The girls were three, and cute as could be. Addie was so interested in how much alike they were. The mom was kind enough to answer her questions, and share information with Addie. The little girls were equally fascinated with Addie because she had on purple eye glasses and they wanted to know all about them, so I answered their questions. They did the twin thing of finishing each other’s sentences, and talking over each other in their excitement to learn something new.

Addie got her purple ice cream. I don’t know the flavor, it doesn’t matter as long as it is purple or pink. The little girls wanted the same thing. As the girls enjoyed staring at each other, I chatted for a few minutes with their mother about the usual issues of motherhood times two at once. It was a nice interlude.

The point behind this ramble is that it wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that Addie and I had a nice chat with a mother and her children who were people of a different color than we were. And not once did it occur to us that the differences might matter to anyone. We were just people talking about our lives. Addie is amazed at the thought of twins, the twins were amazed at the fact that Addie needs glasses to see better. That was all that mattered to them.

The mother and I simply exchanged mother notes with each other for a few minutes. I complimented her on how well behaved her girls were, she complimented me on how sweet Addie was. I told her I admired her ability to parent two three year old babies at once, and she said it was hard, but worth it. She admired the fact that we wanted to take our grandchild out for ice cream and how much we clearly loved her. I told her that we sometimes got worn out, but it was worth every minute of it. We were just women being women in a singular moment in time. It was comfortable, pleasant, and completely tranquil.

Addie and I have light skin, the mother and her girls have lovely coffee color skin. It didn’t matter. We were humans being humans, nothing more, nothing less. Had I been a hater, or had she been a hater, we would have both missed out on a nice moment in time. And you know, if people would just stop trying to divide themselves from other people through false agendas like race and status, we could all have pleasant interludes where we learn something about each other, have a laugh, and move on with our day more educated and accepting. It is a sad thing that so many want to used differences as a reason to be angry and divisive. Very sad, indeed.

Ten Minutes to Eternity


I love my husband. More than I did when I fell in, first lust, then love, with him forty-eight years ago. We were so young, headstrong, and sure of ourselves. We didn’t think about how getting married a year after we met would impact our lives, our families, or our future. We wanted to be together. And back then, even in the midst of the hippie free love era, we didn’t want to give in to the urges we had, we wanted to be a permanent couple. We wanted to belong to each other. So we ran away to elope on a hot June day. But no one would marry a nineteen year old boy and a sixteen year old girl. I ended up living with his parents while he lived in an apartment until my parents sent the papers for us to legally marry.

It was a warm, sunny, Sunday afternoon in August of 1971 when we married at a small church in Mill Valley, California. The reverend wasn’t happy about marrying two young people, but we made it clear if he didn’t we would find someone who would. Between Sunday services, we met at the church along with his parents, brothers, a friend of mine, and the reverend. In a span of about ten minutes, we were joined together as husband and wife. It was peaceful, and the only music was provided by the nesting sparrows outside the refectory.

After a few required signatures, photos, and a handshake from the reverend, we all went back to his parent’s house. They were, naturally, not in a party mood, so the Mr. and I changed into our jeans and boots, jumped on the Harley and headed down Miller Avenue to the local Jack in the Box burger joint for a meal. We rode over the Camino into Corte Madera and back along the back roads to Mill Valley. Later, we drove into San Francisco to the Hyatt for our wedding night. And that is all I have to say about that, other than we were both very happy, very in love, and very compatible. It was a beautiful day.

The next day we loaded up the Harley with our camping gear and headed to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to do some panning for gold for our honeymoon. It was a blissful few days, filled with laughter and the joy of knowing we were meant to be together forever. Eventually, we had to go back to the real world and face life as new adults. School, work, scrambling for money, paying bills, all that went with that set us apart from our friends our age. At the same time, we still had fun just being a young couple in love.

Years rolled by, children came, struggles came and went, we lost our oldest son, and we gained our first grandchild followed by more. Like all couples, we had our years of falling out of love and getting lost in the minutia of life, but we always found our way back to each other. And here we are, forty-eight years later, still married, still in love, and we still have that spark that brought us together all those years ago.

I love my husband. More than I ever thought I would. I don’t know where the years went so fast, but I know we lived every last one of them together. God willing, we will have untold years ahead. Who knew a ten minute ceremony would lead to eternity?

Small Goals


Little moments, small goals, simple reminders, things that make love a reality flitted through my mind while I was getting our Addie ready for bed. How fast things change in a child’s life. A year ago, bed time was a chore, complete with tears, tantrums, and frustration over the simple act of getting her to brush her teeth. Tonight, she got herself ready for bed, brushed her own teeth, put her toys away, and found her Zebra Bear to snuggle with all on her own. Instead of tantrums, we spent half an hour talking about her week, things that she asked about, and her big plans for tomorrow. Then she rolled over and went to sleep in about two minutes. Once I had a simple goal of getting her teeth brushed, getting her into pajamas, and into bed without a tantrum, and asleep within an hour or two. A year later, its a done deal. She no longer even needs a reminder.

I feel a bit, superfluous. But, proud of her too. She did it! She made that small goal happen. And now our bedtime ritual has morphed into little moments together where she does all the talking, and I no longer have to sit on my frustration and hold back angry words. It is simply a small moment in time at the end of the day filled with love. She is the third generation I have raised to this point of independence. One would think it would get easier to see them grow up, but it doesn’t. I want to keep her my angle baby for just a little longer. However, God, in his wisdom, made moms and grandmothers, so we could raise children to be strong, confident adults. Part of that process is letting go, entrusting them to God, and trusting them to be the people they are meant to be. It is so hard, but it is so worth it. Sweet dreams, Angel Baby, see you in the morning.

Take A Step Back


I have often said that the Christians who insist they are always right, tend to be the least Christian among us. I recently had a conversation of social media with a friend about the changes in Boy Scouts of America, agreeing that allowing girls into the organization would result in the program becoming mediocre and would end the century long purpose of the BSA to turn boys into capable men. Another person disagreed. Fine, she has the right to disagree all she wants, but typical of people with a dissenting position, she was unable to back her stance with facts. When she realized she was not going to change our perspective, she fell back to the usual practice of spouting personal insults to those who disagreed with her.

However, the woman decided to attack our integrity, our intelligence and knowledge of the topic, and most egregiously, our spirituality. The first two insults are expected when debating a topic with someone who is vehement that they are always right. After all they base everything on their superiority to all other human beings. What I want to know is how someone can call themselves Christian, or even religious, when they turn to attacking someone’s personal spirituality. Her response was amazingly self centered and vicious.

According to her, I have a problem with self doubt. Why? Because I don’t believe women can teach boys the things they need to be men. Boys need a male to emulate, be it a father, family friend, teacher, or Scout Leader. Women can teach boys a lot of things, important things, but there is a built in DNA aspect of being male that most women simply do not understand. It is how human males learned to work together, protect each other, and overcome the lack of leadership in a dynamic world. Call it a pecking order, competition, or simple masculine chest thumping, it is a needed part of how men act and react to each other, danger, and leadership.

That woman decided I lacked self worth because I was a leader in Scouting, teaching men to lead, but believed boys needed men to teach them. Just as girls need women to teach them certain things about being women, it is a DNA hardwired thing. How can you explain that teaching adults how to teach boys leadership is not anything like setting a male example for boys to emulate? I tried. I tried to explain it in several ways, but she close her mind and told me I needed to pray and ponder my lack of self worth since I doubted my abilities to teach boys.

Then, when the woman I was discussing the topic with, on her site, in the first place, agreed with me, she was attacked and told she needed to spend more time praying, pondering, and reading about this because her spirituality was lacking. Now my friend is one of the most open, caring, kind, accepting and loving people I know. (She accepts me as a friend, after all.) She works hard to be inclusive, and she listens to every perspective, whether she agrees with it or not. Then she quietly goes on her own way and does what she thinks is right. She doesn’t argue, like I do, nor does she get annoyed when people simply remain close minded in the face of irrefutable facts. She lives what she believes, and she doesn’t preach or insist on anyone agreeing with her. But that woman, decided she had the right to lecture, insult, and force her point of view on my friend because my friend would not bow to her will.

Who died and gave that woman the right to decide who is, or is not, spiritually healthy? What makes her think she can make that decision? It seems to me if someone turns to that sort of rhetoric and behavior, they might just want to spend some time reflecting and praying about their own attitude and commitment to Christian beliefs. Nothing will drive people away from the gospel and doctrine of any church faster than a holier than thou, judgmental, person who thinks they are perfect in all they say and do.

Everyone has faults, everyone is striving to understand their beliefs and to overcome their problems. If a person is so perfect they can point fingers at others and waltz out the doors on Sunday without a care in the world, then they really need to do some soul searching. Most folks are in a place of worship because they are striving to be better people. No one is perfect in the world of mankind. Everyone struggles, every day, with their imperfections. No one, not one person, has the right to tell someone else they lack in faith, spirituality, or comprehension of what God expects of them just because they disagree on a worldly topic. The only person who has full knowledge of their relationship with their God or higher power is that individual and their God.

Granted, there are rules and values that are required to be part of any organized church. That keeps the mayhem down to a mild roar. But when it comes to knowing what a person does in their personal lives to develop and grow within that religious belief system, it is no one’s place to lecture them on that very personal growth. Especially someone who has issues of their own.

What did I say to that woman? I told her she was exactly the kind of woman that made going to church a miserable experience for most women who were struggling with anything in their lives. Instead of compassion, support, understanding, friendship, and a safe harbor, they got a holier than thou, superior, snobby, judgmental, oh so perfect spiteful female putting them down and making them feel even more of a failure. People like her needed to step back and reflect on the reason why they would do that. Those women also seem to be the biggest gossips, most hateful, and had the biggest spoon to stir the pot of discontent and trouble among the female parishioners. Maybe it makes them feel powerful, but one has to wonder what kind of lack of control in their lives makes them so determined to force their control on those who disagree with them. They tend to be the ones who have a deep need to bully other women, forcing them into what they see as acceptable to God. I feel nothing but pity for their children and spouses.

Church ladies who spend so much time condemning others for their perceived imperfections really need to take a step back and remember that judging others will lead to being judged in the same measure. It isn’t Christian, it isn’t kind, and it isn’t going to solve their issues by hurting others. All of this because I think men should teach boys to be men through a program that gives them a moral, virtuous, and leadership based program that will no longer exist. Part of me wants to throw my hands up and say, “Whatever.” Part of me is outraged that she thinks she has a right to tell me how to think and how to believe. But the part of me that wins out is the part that refuses to be cowed by anyone when it comes to my core beliefs.

Well, There Goes a GREAT Program.


I spent 13 years in Boy Scouts as a leader. I have earned my Wood Badge credentials. When I retired I was the Assistant District Commissioner for our area. I trained men and women to lead cub and boy scouts and ran day camps for up to 300 eight, nine, and ten year old boys for 11 of those years. I LOVED scouting. My boys loved it. And all the boys I worked with in both Boy and Cub Scouts loved the program. It was designed to do one thing, to teach boys how to become capable men. It was based on teaching self reliance, team work, personal success, and the ability to adapt and use all skills to survive, advance, and improve themselves. It wasn’t all about camping, but it sure was about competition, excelling, and overcoming barriers.
Boys communicate and work in totally different ways than girls do. Since I think more like a man than a woman half the time (really, my brain is exactly 50 50 in the way it works), I understand men and boys. I speak the language. I get the way they work. And I can tell you, this whole allowing girls in screwed the entire reason for Boy Scouts.
I was also involved with Girl Scouts, I spent more time breaking up hateful, spiteful, pissy girls who were picking on each other than I EVER spent breaking up boy fights. And the girls NEVER let it go. Ever. From then on there were always two camps of girls hating each other. Boys worked it out with competition in canoes, on the rope climbing, and occasionally with their fists. Afterward, it was over. And they were friends again. It will never work having them together, not if they keep the same programs. Girls will hate it, and girls will rule. Now it will be nothing more than another junky club for kids. Mediocre at best, a dismal failure at worse. Disgusting. My boys would never want to be a part of something like that, especially if they were at the age where girls were just gross, alien beings.

The Music Goes On


This is a story told to me by my mother Jean Bonham Vandenburg

HOW THE MUSIC STARTED IN THE BONHAM FAMILY

O. C. Bonham played the fiddle. He met another musician, Clarence Rodgers, who also played the fiddle or violin. In fact he was a music teacher for Atoka schools and private students too. Mr. Clarence Rodgers was an accomplished Classically trained musician and was well known as a brilliant music teacher. Mr Bonham was a widower, who had four children by his first wife. Ida New. Two of them survived,Minnie Lee and Zed.

Minnie was very good on the organ and piano. She was a good vocalist too. Mr Rodgers taught her the piano and she played in church. Minnie eventually married and became the mother of five children, who grew to be talented a singers in church as well. Mr Bonham married again to Lydia New Trimmer and had two children, Oran Carl and Collie. Although Carl, as Oran Carl came to be known, survived, Collie died when a very young child. Clarence Rodgers taught Carl to play the guitar and other instruments. Mr Bonham, Mr. Gene Warren, the principal of Harmony School, Clarence Rodgers, Carl, and his friend Hardy Wilkins would gather at the Bonham house and play music during the winter when crops were harvested and laid by.

O C Bonham married later in life to Novella Burlison and they had had five children. Clearance Rodgers taught the oldest son, Orville, to play the fiddle too. His children are part of the Bonham Bluegrass family. Sara Ann, Glen, and Virgil all were talented. Their big brother, Carl, taught Ollie and Glen to play the guitar.

Carl liked ballads and the music of early Country and Western singers such as Jimmie Rodgers. His friend, Hardy, was a good musician who played for dances at the outside dance floor in Stringtown, Oklahoma that was made famous when the infamous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde had a shoot out where they killed a deputy and wounded the sheriff. Carl and Hardy were will known in the area and played for dances held in homes throughout Atoka County. His daughter can remember going to someones house and they would move all the furniture  out of one room so that could have room to dance. When the little kids and babies got sleepy the parents would lay them on the beds to sleep. When the movie, Gone With The Wind, came out, Carl and Hardy played during the intermission every night. Carl was a good singer and, thanks to Clarence Rodgers, a good musician, When Carl was first learning to play, if he missed a cord or made a mistake, Clarence would smack Carl with his fiddle bow.

The daughters of Carl and his wife, Thelma Bolling Bonham, also learned to sing at an early age. Jeannie Bonham Vandenburg and Jackie Bonham Hand, sang on a radio show that was recorded live from the Mamie Johnson school in Atoka every Sunday. They, and the teachers from Harmony decided to have a show at Harmony School to help buy new basketball uniforms, Jean and Jackie and the other students organized the show and it was a big hit in the community. It helped to get the much needed uniforms.

Jean married Eddie Vandenburg when he came back from the Korean War, He was an outstanding natural musician. Later, when he went back into the Army, Eddie and Jean were stationed many places where they always became involved with country music. They entertained at the military clubs and civilian clubs near by. They were asked to record and go on tour, but being a soldier came first so they had to let the opportunity pass. Both Jean and Eddie were song writers, and Jean continues to write today. They were both raised to sing traditional Country Music. Eddie passed away a few years ago, but Jean is still invited to sing at various venues where she performs now and then. If you get a chance to hear Miss Jean you are in for a real treat. She has had many years experience and has performed with many talented bands and fronted for many rising stars. She has some great stories to tell about the places and people she and Eddie have met.

They were parents of five children and who are also musicians and vocalists. The girls enjoy singing in church. Karron is a writer and was a choir director and, the youngest, Rebecca and her husband, David Barrington, often sing and direct musical events in their church, Eddie Vandenburg Jr. is good musician and a collector of music instruments. Some of Eddie and Jean’s grandchildren and great grandchildren also have interests in music.

With each generation, the music goes on in the Bonham family.

Women in the Salon


I went to the nail salon today, this time my nails are lime green. A very pretty and happy color. Addie will love them. The place was busy for a Wednesday morning. It struck me as I was getting my nails done, how very alike all women are when in the company of other women, no matter where they come from.

There were two women from Mexico, at least their accent was more Mexican than Central American. They were chatting about one of their boyfriends, and how much of a jerk he was at times. I had to look up a few of the words they used I had never heard before. I won’t repeat them, they were really quite insulting to any man. But, the conversation was very typical of what two good friends would talk about when it comes to a possibly unfaithful boyfriend or husband.

The women who work there are all from Cambodia. I can’t understand what they say, I don’t speak that language at all. But, they were talking about children since one of them took out her phone and showed the photos of her little girl to the others and the lady she was working on. Then she showed her to me. A real darling. So the lady doing my nails got her phone out and showed off her son, who is three, and learning to play the piano. No kidding, he is three and he can read music. He was cute too, and talented. We did the back and forth about how bright kids seem to be today.

All of the clients in there were Americans. Black and white women, from about 30 through a little older than I am. The younger women were talking about yoga, where to buy good leggings, boutique shops and wine. The older women were chatting about age related issues, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. One lady had fourteen great grandchildren and another on the way. She won. The rest of us either had one or two great grandkids, or none.

It was so typical, familiar, comfortable to be in a room of women who were just chatting, being women all together, regardless of the fact that we were from different places, spoke different languages, and live different lifestyles. We all have the same things in common. Things that we can all relate to no matter our age or place in our lives.

Folks who know me well knows I don’t particularly like other women. I especially dislike snobby, holier than thou females who love to put other women down with their superiority and gossip. I loathe women who enjoy hurting others when they aren’t there to defend themselves. I tend to put females like that in their place as soon as they start their hateful spewing. It takes me a long time to trust any female because I have been hurt and used a few times too many.

Today was a pleasant interlude, refreshing, and enjoyable. Women just being women together, laughing, chatting, and talking. It was a good way to start my day. I hope that one girl dumps her cheating boyfriend, I think she will because she was past the hurt and on to furious. I hope the little boy keeps playing the piano, and the little girl grows up to be as sweet and pretty as her mother. I hope all the moms, grandmothers, and great grandmothers love themselves as much as they love their progeny. I hope they all left feeling as refreshed as I did and the feelings linger as they have for me.

Oh, and I learned where the best place to buy good wine is in town, and how much I can expect to spend. I don’t drink, but one never knows when that information will come in handy. Sometimes, going to the salon is a chore, sometimes it is just a room full of women being women in the salon. It was a good morning.

A Conversation About Cars with a Five Year Old Girl.


We were driving and the conversation between the Mr. and I turned to what kind of car we would like as the ultimate car (I already have mine), and what color we liked best on a car. To include Addie I decided to ask her what she thought about a car. The conversation went like this:

Me: Addie, what kind of car would you like when you grow up.

Addie: A Jeep. A pink one.

Me: What if you don’t like pink when you grow up?

(I got the look that says Nana is crazy and has lost the plot.)

Addie: Nana, I’m a girl. I will always like pink.

Me: Not a lot of cars are pink, they might be hard to find.

Addie: (In a some what annoyed tone.) Well, I can have it painted pink.

Me: Why do you want a Jeep.

Addie: Because my Barbie has one. I want one just like hers.

Me: Because you are a girl?

Addie: No, Nana. (Very annoyed now since I am not getting it.) I want one because I have blond hair.

Me: (Working hard not to show amusement.) Oh, so your car has to match your hair?

Addie: Yes! (Relieved I finally got with the program.)

Me: So, what happens if your hair turns brown when you get old?

Addie: Isn’t it obvious? I will just dye it back to blond.

Me: (Think to myself, Obviously? She’s five!) Oh, Okay. I guess that would work.

Addie: Yep. I have it all worked out in my head. It will be perfect.

Me: Well, that’s planning ahead.

Addie: Of course. That’s the smart thing to do.

The conversation turned to her favorite Barbie and why and that she needed to find one that could ride a horse and a Barbie horse to go with it. I saw a Christmas present list being formed as we spoke. She cracks me up with her grown up vocabulary and word usage. She listens to us too, planning ahead is our biggest thing.

Going to School with Mrs. Graham


When I started school, it was in a small country school in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. The school had grades one through eight in four classrooms. Two ages per class. In mine, there were both first and second grade students. Mrs. Graham was our teacher. She also taught many of my cousins, and my sister. She was wonderful and we all adored her.

Mrs. Graham was probably in her early forties when I was in her class. She taught until she was into her seventies. Three generations from the families in that area passed through her capable hands, learning to read, write, do math, science, art, and history. She was firm, fair, and dedicated to teaching all those little mush headed kids the basics of education. After two years in her class, you could do all those important skills, and spell too.

She didn’t have fancy computers, loads of resources, and special papers to hand out for homework, the only homework we ever had was learning the spelling list for the week. She didn’t have pretty cut outs and things to make bulletin boards with reminders, handouts for kids to take home to parents, or expensive products to teach with. She had a chalkboard, Big Chief tablets, pencils, crayons, a few pair of scissors, and an old beat up mimeograph machine that never quite had enough ink. But we all learned anyway.

What she did have, however, were parents that taught us to respect Mrs. Graham, or they would be all over us about it. I never heard one student talk back to her, smart off to her, or disrespect her in any way. None of us would if we didn’t want our parents to know and make sure we never did it again. What she did have was an innate ability to understand how children learned, and how to ignite our imagination through stories, ideas, and a firm belief that each and every one of us was brilliant in one way or another. What she did have, was a vast store of knowledge that she was willing and able to impart to all of us, even the rowdy boys who were more interested in rough housing than learning their spelling words. What she had was the support of the parents, the admiration of the other teachers and the administration, and the love of her students.

She wouldn’t recognize the modern classroom today. She wouldn’t understand how students can get away with literally doing nothing and still move on to the next level. She wouldn’t understand teaching a child to pass an exam instead of teaching children to learn the basics of reading, math, history, and science as a platform for the building of an educated mind. She wouldn’t understand the focus on feelings instead of a focus on encouraging each student through a purpose driven agenda designed to help them learn to help themselves learn. She wouldn’t understand the disrespect students, parents, and the administration have for the teachers who are down in the trenches working with hateful, angry, bored students every day. Teachers like Mrs. Graham are a phenomenon of the past.

Back when education meant that children were truly learning, it wasn’t uncommon for a young man or woman still in their teens to be teaching an entire community of students in a one room school with children from ages six to seventeen. By the time those children were ready to go to High School, they were proficient in all the basics, plus they could speak, read, and write in either Greek or Latin, or both. They were familiar with and could quote great works of literature, they understood complex mathematics and science theories and practices. They knew the history of their town, state, and country along with world history from the ancient ages to the present. Today, most High School students can barely read, write, or have the skills needed to pass the state exam required for graduation. Students are less intelligent, capable, or determined to excel in their studies. It isn’t just an inner city issue, or a poor issue, it is endemic throughout ever socio-economic level within in every type of community. More children are falling to the lowest common denominator of sloth, failure, and self aggrandizing entitlement than ever before. And no one cares enough to stop the fall, because today, we no longer have teachers like Mrs. Graham. We no longer have teachers, parents, and administrators who see teaching as more than a babysitting service provided for their children, because teachers are no longer allowed to teach, they only facilitate the process of regurgitative education. The students pass the state exam and promptly forget what they learned. They don’t build on a solid foundation of the basics, they simply pass through the system and wonder why life is so hard for them when they graduate or quit school as soon as they are old enough.

Teachers go into teaching knowing that it will be a thankless profession with poor pay. Some go in all shiny and new, ready to make a difference in the lives of their students, and run right into that wall of the lowest common denominator. Many, within a year or two, are so beaten down and exhausted they end up walking away from the profession. It is easier to deal with rude people as a waitress than to put their hearts into a profession where they are insulted and belittled by everyone on a daily basis. The only real losers in the modern education models of today are the generations of students who will waste twelve years in a system that will teach them nothing of value.

Mrs. Graham most definitely would not understand that at all.