Monday, August 06, 2007

It's All (American) History



I’ve always loved American history. I’m terrible at dates, I can never remember where the Civil War started (was it Antietum or Bull Run?), and I forget the order of our first presidents after Jefferson. With that disclaimer, you can see why I didn’t major in history at BYU although I still think I’d make a great high school history teacher. It was tempting to switch my major from business to history once my roommate Kathy told me that history majors only had 32 credits in their department and us business majors had 52. That sounded more like a degree in electives to me than history! If it weren’t for my lack of gray matter in the memory department I would’ve signed up. I’m always up for less work.

I’m always telling Paul that he may be smarter when it comes to academics, but when it comes to mindless trivia, I blow anyone away. And American history is no exception. Thanks to my high school AP History teacher, Mr. Clark, my brain is infused with the nicknames of presidents and weird American catch phrases. Despite the widespread use of computers a decade earlier, his tests were always hand written and then copied for us students. A groan was always let out by our class when we would invariably get a nine page history test. We quickly scanned the test ‘packet’ and realized the length was due to his large male-style block print. And the tests were always chock full of American trivia, no doubt due to his love of American History magazine. We read more from that magazine than from our textbook. Because of his tests I still remember that William Henry Harrison’s nickname was ‘Old Tippecanoe’ and Andrew Jackson’s was ‘Old Hickory’. I’m good at phrases too. I can tell you that it was Teddy Roosevelt who made famous the phrase, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ and we can thank Churchill for the phrase, ‘A riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’ I was definitely surprised when I took the AP History test and learned there were no questions on ‘Old Fuss and Feathers’ nor on ‘Lemonade Lucy’. Nobody passed the test that year. Maybe Mr. Clark revamped his curriculum and eliminated questions from tests like; “Southerners were known for sipping __________ out on the ___________. That honestly was on a test. The answer was, “Southerners were known for sipping mint juleps out on the veranda.” I still remember that and I don’t even drink.


The highlight of our class had to be our ‘fake’ news skits we put on. Our group was assigned to cover the burning of the White House by the british in 1814. I was an eyewitness to the event in character of SNL’s Grumpy Old Man. I wore a stuffed plaid shirt, donned crooked spectacles, hunched over, and said things in a raspy old-man voice like, “Why didn’t we just paint a bulls-eye on the darn house for the stinkin’ British? In my day, the president was a humble man, living in a humble house, AND WE LIKED IT!” I got an A.

Good times, Mr. Clark, good times.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Okay, why don't I remember this stuff in my own home? Question "What was the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too", all about? If you don't know, use the internet, but you gotta fess to it.

Dad

cyn the win said...

Dad, puh-lease. They were running mates for the presidency. Didn't need the internet for that.

Lori Lashley said...

LMAO!

Not only do I agree with and remember every detail of Mr. Clark's class, but I remember that exact test question about the Mint Juleps on the veranda!!

Our skit was the best, btw. Mr. Subliminal and all!

Ah the good ol' days...

cyn the win said...

Lori, I totally forgot about Mr. Subliminal! We so deserved the A grade.

abelnap said...

OK--you've inspired me. My blog is back. I'll let you know when I post anything new :-)

Paul said...

I hated history in high school. Got a 2 on the AP test.

Then for some unknown reason took an upper division history class my freshman year in college. Thought it would cover one of my electives--it didn't.

Anonymous said...

I tried to erase Mr. Clark out of my book of life, but you just brought him back in. I remember those blasted hand written tests!!! I remember the stupid slogans we had to memorize!!! I remember how he made Cassie cry one day by yelling at her and ever since then we hated him like poison. The vendetta was on! We played a "Mission Impossible" spy game to enact our revenge. We distracted him by getting him to talk about Teddy Roosevelt (he could wax on and on and on about TR). Then Michelle slyly went up to his desk for a kleenex and stole a copy of his American History magazine so we could have his address. Then we went around town stealing toilet paper and things from public bathrooms (we weren't about to spend our money on him). We dressed all in black, used mascara to paint stripes on our face, and we toilet papered like we've never toilet papered a house before!!!! Then we paused in front of his house, took a bunch of pictures of us looking like thugs in front of our handiwork, and were off. Man alive, I love that memory!!
Care

cyn the win said...

EVIL! EVIL! How come we've never heard about this before Carolyn? What other good/evil stories have we missed out on?

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