Lessons in life


I was a teenager 70 years ago, but I have a feeling teenage attitudes haven’t changed much.
Even in the 1940s we teens felt we knew more than our parents, and that once we have that driver’s license, wherever we care to go, we’re sure we’ll be safe. And whatever we decide about subjects in high school, we’re quite knowledgeable.

I have never been particularly good at math. But that did not deter me from taking Algebra as a freshman. This was right after World War II and returning soldiers went back into the classrooms. Mr. Brubaker was my Algebra teacher and he only gave me a “C” in that subject. Of course I thought he was not quite right in his mind from the war, but looking back I believe I was the one who was not quite right in their mind.

I signed up for Geometry as a sophomore. My counselors pointed out to me, as tactfully as they could, that tests reflected that math was not my best subject. But hey, what did they know. And yes, we had school counselors even way back in the 1940s.
So I signed up for Geometry and the teacher, a very old lady, as I recall, was new that year at our school, Garfield High School, named for the President. I found out later that this teacher had never been a good one, and instead of insisting she retire, the system just kept moving her from school to school. She’s my excuse for not passing Geometry, and I’m sticking with it.

Actually, according to intelligence tests I took at that time, my I. Q. is 124. Except, I guess, when it comes to math. I would pretty much ace all other classes, and in fact, graduated 7th in my class of 84 students.

In my senior year I was elected to be secretary of my graduation class. Shortly after that election our principal, a Mr. Ladd, took me aside and informed that because I had failed a subject, I could not be a class officer.

This was my first hard lesson in life and at this time I’m experiencing what is hopefully my last one. I will be 86 in a few months and have stopped driving.

When you have been so independent and on your own or the single parent of two children for 30 years, I’m having trouble just sitting and twiddling my thumbs, or on the phone finding someone to drive me somewhere. But Hey! I’m in pretty good health so guess I had better change my attitude.