Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, April 5, 2019


As I have mentioned previously, I have been going through and getting rid of old stuff no one else will need or want when I die. So I have been re-reading, for the first time in 64-69 years, old copies of Oak Barks, the school newspaper of Oakland City, IN High School, where I toiled for five years, since 8th grade was in the high school, and I wanted to be a journalist.

I have posted items I thought other old Acorns might want to see, on the nostalgia Facebook page called Oakland City Acorns, but some columns [I always wanted to be a columnist.] are too long for FB, and since this blog no long makes any pretensions to being wise or useful, but is just a place for me to toss anything I come up with… here is a column that started being about an Oak Barks from 1951 and ended up as a point of personal jealousy of James Burch. I was a freshman reporter then. I’ll put the address for CIW on the Oakland City Acorns page on FB so “kids” who are interested can find it…

The Thanksgiving edition of Oak Barks in 1951 was dated Nov. 16 and numbered 4. It had the usual gossip and jokes, but much more serious material than usual. I did an article on how to write to kids in other countries, “International Correspondence,” using my older sister’s correspondence with German kids as a lede. Asst. Ed. Phillip Fischer did an article on “How Clean is Your Water?” Editor Benny Albin wrote one on “Scientific Progress,” and Carolyn Waller wrote a reflection on “Respect.” Charlene Bassett wrote about the new prayer group meeting every Wednesday at 12:40 in room 205.

Then came a column on “Heaven Here on Earth,” in which various students were asked their ideas on that topic. Typical was Linda Luttrell’s definition, “Looking at Jack Dye.” Jack was cute, but, really?

The Oak Barks staff worked very hard to improve our school and society. I wasn’t the only one. In addition to running long gossip columns, we often printed long screeds by one staff member or another against gossiping. We touted civil defense and the military. We gave tips on how to have a better personality—well, they were more criticisms if you did not already have the ideal personality. We were very much into ideals—naming various persons in one class or another as the ideal freshman boy or senior girl or whoever.

James Burch was listed in this issue as the ideal freshman boy for grades. He was the ideal “grades” boy every year, which was disgusting because I knew I would never be the ideal for looks or athletic prowess or eyes or hair or the other categories high school students thought ideal, and so I wanted to be the smartest boy. [Although I did make it for “personality” as a freshman and “friendliness” as a senior, which is like being Miss Congeniality.]

I really wanted to beat “Wally,” even though he and I were very good friends, and often went to the Ft. Branch Dog n Suds of our Oak Barks sponsor and office practice teacher Manfred Morrow, trolling for girls, because the girls who are 17 miles away are always prettier than the ones close at hand, where the aforementioned “Wally,” named such because he resembled Mr. Peepers, the Wally Cox TV character, would use pickup lines on the car hops like, “Hey, baby, you want to hear me pronounce otorhinolaryngology?”

Even though he was the ideal boy for grades every year, I maintained the monstrous illusion that I could outdo him in practical smarts. When I took the employment exam for the Potter & Brumfield factory in Princeton, I set the all-time record, missing only one question. It was the all-time record, that is, until Wally took it the next week and got ALL the answers correct. When we had our senior comprehensive exams, over everything we had studied for four years, sitting all day in the gym, spaced way far apart so we couldn’t possibly see anybody else’s exam papers, I set the all-time record. It stood for twenty minutes. Until Wally turned his exam in.

I’m glad he’s never come to any of our class reunions. As long as he’s not around, I can think I’m smart.

John Robert McFarland

I was smart enough to buy several copies of There’s No Wrong Way to Pray, written by ten-year-old Kate Watson, and her Lutheran pastor mother, Rebecca Ninke, to give to kids and Sunday Schools. You can be smart, too, and get a copy from publisher Beaming Books, or Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, etc.

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