How Weird Is That?


I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. What woke me was a dream I was having. I was teaching a class of first year college students (do they still call them freshmen?) and we were discussing who the real protagonist in Romeo and Juliet was. I had a list on the board, The fathers, the prince, Romeo, etc., ending with the Friar. After a minute everyone got a wrong answer so I told them it was the Friar and launched into a dissection of the history of England, the anti-Catholic sentiment of the age and how Shakespeare used his plays to promote the propaganda of first the Queen and then the King of England against the Catholic church. I won’t go into the entire lesson, it is one that I taught several times during my teaching days.
 
One way I kept younger kids, meaning teenagers, awake was to compare the feud between the families to modern day gang wars and how the warring factions of the government today were much like the war between the King of England who was also the head of the Church of England and the Catholic Church in other countries and the Catholic Kings. The kids ate it up with a spoon.
 
After waking up, I lay in bed contemplating Romeo and Juliet and other Shakespeare plays where the bias was blatant if one knew the history of the era in which it was written. Personally, I like the comedies best because he used outright parody of the pomposity of the gentry versus the vitality of the commoners to poke fun at everyone from royalty to the servants, merchants, and country bumpkins. He walked a close line between mocking and sneering and lecturing against the unpopular ideals of the King and his Lords.
 
What I find interesting is that after all this time, I remember all the details of the lesson, history, and play and could stand up in front of a classroom and give it again with a few peeks at the play to get my quotes right. How weird is that? No really, I wonder how weird it is.
 
Anyway, now I have Shakespeare on my mind. And I really, really miss teaching.
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Again? Really? This Is Getting SO Predictable.


Yet another idiotic meme was posted on social media today. One that, once again, compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler. A blatant attempt to sway weak minded, perpetually offended, left leaning, uneducated people that the legally elected President of the United States is evil. She attempted to defend her stance by repeating the usual nonsense about his personality and his behavior, and that he was obviously mentally ill. I responded with this.

T (the person who eagerly posted the meme), stop a minute. So he (President Trump) doesn’t meet your standards for polite language, and he is rough edged, What makes him fake if that is true? It seems to me that people who say what they mean and mean what they say are often viewed as harsh or outspoken and use less of the polite passive aggressive verbiage than those who are just spewing rhetoric.

What makes you think he is crazy and needs evaluation? The propaganda you read and the hate that you spread without proof, from non medical anti Trump advocates, or do you have a medical degree that would give you the right to attest to that statement?

If you read something other than propaganda from the hate Trump crowd, you would know that he DID have a mental evaluation when he had his last physical. Guess what, it showed that he was perfectly normal and he has no mental issues at all. That tells me it is the folks who hate him who really have the mental issues. They are so filled with ire they can’t be bothered to actually think for themselves, read something beyond propaganda, and take a step back to see just how much he HAS done since he has been in office.

In fact, he has managed, despite Congress doing their best to stop him with their stalling, to accomplish almost all he promised to the REST of us. Those who want someone who isn’t a professional lying politician to make American great again. Heaven knows the Obummer managed to make the world laugh at us long and loud.

All of the nonsense you have spewed thus far, my friend, is pure propaganda repeated over and over and over by the leftist media and hard line haters. Truth doesn’t matter to any of them, only getting that cow Killary in office matters. It doesn’t matter that she is a criminal and hates all of us deplorable underlings.

Look, T, you simply need to take a minute to stop hating and see all the good that has happened for most of America since he took office. Starting with more folks working than ever before and more freedom returning to our lives. Stop hating, learn for yourself. Don’t be a cog in the hate machine. Be an independent individual. It takes courage, but you are smart enough and talented enough to do it.

Typically, all I got in response from T and her cadre of perpetually angry and offended, hate filled, so called friends, was personal insults, unexciting verbosity, and repetitive vomiting of the standard “we hate Trump” hits. It makes my eyes cross with boredom, kind of like listening to the same five notes of a screeching diva aria.

I can’t believe people are so afraid to think outside of the prison of the liberal progressive thought box and socially acceptable actions. It is as if they have a list of what is and is not the right thing to say and do when they hear the word Trump. Someone says that the job market is booming thanks to his tax cuts, and the leftist run to their menu and pick a response for column A for feeling offended, column B for knowing they are superior to all the facts, and C what names to call anyone who says, “Good! More jobs for the under employed, minorities, and legal immigrants.”

It all starts to blend together in an unending “wawawawa” like the teachers in the Peanuts cartoons. I see more and more Constitutionally Conservatives rolling their eyes and refusing to engage in such petty nonsense. The odd thing is, when Conservatives stop talking, responding, or arguing with such people, the leftist actually think they won the debate or changed someone’s mind to come over to the dark side. Those folks actually do not understand civil discourse, irony, or common facts. They don’t care what the facts say, they hoist themselves on their emotion filled self righteousness and expect the world to bow down to them.

Well, we see what that brought to us when our then president bowed to the will of every single anti American leader in the world. Now we have even more people trying to use our country and its people for their gain. Sundering our generosity as a nation and as a people, we have become the laughing stock of the world, expected to apologize for our strength, our ability, and our business acumen. I would say that they still want to be in our schools, but with the way the leftists have taken over all the liberal arts universities, that is no longer so, as we drop further behind in educational prowess every year.

So, to T, and to the few progressives I bother to speak to any longer: Just because I refuse to engage in this unending, whining, round robin argument it does not mean you won the battle. If anything it means I no longer feel you have a grip on reality and nothing I say will bring you back from the abyss of ignorance and hate that permeates your lives. I love you, I care about you, but I am no longer going to let you be the negative in my world. I will go around, ignore, climb over, stand above, adapt and overcome your incessant complaining and hatred toward a hard working American. A man whom you hate because he is successful and makes the lot of you look idiotic in your constant propaganda laden, unthinking lemming-like devotion to lies, distortions, and venomous tautology concerning his presidency. In short, no one is listening and we are all moving on.

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.

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.