I
As It Was in the Beginning
Is Now
And Ever Shall Be
-- I reckon.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

"The thing that hath been, is that which shall be;
and that which is done is that which shall be done;
and there is no new thing under the sun."

 

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Section I, As It Was in the Beginning

JUSTICE IN MY TIME... THE FLORIDA STATE FAIR
WE WHISTLE WHILE WE WORK
THE GREAT FISH HUNT...1964 THE SEEDS OF RELIGION
SAUTÉ WITH WHISKEY UNTIL DONE... THE WRECK OF THE 1959
A SONGBIRD MEMORY THE DEATH OF OL' CRAZE...
RANCID MAYONNAISE AND SNAKE THE BUBBLE GUM GENERATION GROWS UP
MASSACRE AT COON HILL CEMETERY... A FREE HAIRCUT FROM UNCLE BOBBY
THERMODYNAMICS...THE HARD WAY HOW TO MEET GIRLS...1904
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF ELECTRICITY EAU DE HOOF...
   
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JUSTICE IN MY TIME...

Fourth Grade is a trying time for most nine-year olds.

Mrs. Dovie Stewart will tell you that it is even more trying for the teacher. She taught Fourth Grade until she retired in 1979.

Our Fourth Grade class at Chumuckla School was a scholarly group. We studied the multiplication tables and committed them to memory. I still remember some. For instance, 4 x 4 is a vehicle that can travel over almost any terrain, while 2 x 4 is a stick of lumber that is really only 1.5 x 3.5 inches.

We absorbed lessons in Social Studies. In these classes, we learned for the first time that there were other counties besides our own. There were other countries too. The people looked different from us. They wore different clothes; they spoke different languages. In general, they were very strange.

"The Incident" happened during one of Mrs. Stewart's comparative sociology lectures. She was explaining the similarities between uncivilized tribes of Papua, New Guinea, and the jungle social order of Manhattan Island. Her nephew, Paul, turned to me at the desk behind him and wiped an unhealthy dose of nasal discharge on my shirt sleeve.

The act was a shock to my sensibilities and to my sensitive nature! If I had known the words, I would have said to myself, "This is abhorrent social behavior and it is thoroughly disgusting." But, I did not.

Paul's Aunt Dovie did not see him do the foul act. If she had, I'm sure she would have whacked the daylights out of him. Although she failed to see Paul's reprehensible behavior, she did see my response to it.

I "picked" a suitable retaliatory weapon and inflicted the loathsome thing on Paul's arm. "Victor, you come outside class with me this minute!" exclaimed Mrs. Stewart.

I was in trouble, and I knew it. I had escalated a "smelly" situation into an "armed" conflict. Mrs. Stewart was about to hold a "Summit Conference" with me, and the outcome did not appear propitious in my regard. In fact, it was not.

Mrs. Stewart never knew that Paul started the incident. I have kept the dark secret until this very day.
The Chumuckla High Class of 1967 (17 graduating members) will hold its twenty-year reunion in June of this year (1987). I hope to see Paul there. I hope his Aunt Dovie shows up, too.

"Ne Obliviscaris" (Never Forget) is the motto of "The Campbell Clan." Well, I have not forgotten. At our class reunion, I will explain the incident in light of historical perspective. I hope Paul's Aunt Dovie will whack his backside until the sun goes down.

"Did so do it, Paul!" says I. "Did not!" says Paul.

"Did done it." "Didn't done it."

"Did." "Didn't."

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WE WHISTLE WHILE WE WORK

In the second grade at Chumuckla School when Mrs. Whitley caught me whistling in class. It was my first whistle. Before that time, I could not emit one whit.

I was years behind my colleagues. Nearly all had learned to whistle by the age of five. Some had learned as early as age two.

Benny Enfinger had a cousin who once stayed overnight with a friend who had an aunt whose father-in-law once marched in a parade in New York City. While there, he had learned the "fingers-in-mouth" method of whistling for a taxi cab. The lesson filtered down through acquaintances and generations until Benny learned "The Method" as well.

Compared with Benny's, my life was a glaring failure. I could not whistle. Even "Junior" Wade could whistle well enough to imitate a sick meadowlark. Jimmy Utley could imitate Junior's imitation of a sick meadowlark. And Joan Bell (a Girl!) could whistle as well as anyone.

I could not gain the respect of my peers until I had mastered the art of whistling. Given any opportunity, I would practice.
I practiced during hymns at church. It must have been disconcerting to the adults who observed me out of the corners of their eyes. I was not singing, but puffing my cheeks and blowing soundless air out of my puckered lips.
I practiced in the church graveyard. I hoped the ghostly inspiration would bring forth sound as I desperately pushed moist air between my teeth and lips.

I tried to learn from my big brother, whose two front teeth were as big as split-cedar shingles. The gap between his teeth allowed him to whistle with an amazing tonal quality. My own teeth were not gapped the same way, and no amount of coaching from my brother would help.

Then it happened. In a quiet study period, in the second grade classroom, as I woefully traced the letter "R" over and over and over again on my three-line writer's tablet with a giant lead pencil, my dream was at last achieved. As if by magic, a piercing whistle exuded from my puckered lips.

Every kid in the classroom looked up from their boring assignment of drawing "Rs" and looked to the source of the sound. Mrs. Whitley admonished, "Now, Victor. We do not whistle in class. Be quiet or I'll have to punish you."

The year was 1957. In those times, teachers were the next closest thing to the President of the United States of America. They even had a picture of George Washington on the wall behind their desks as if to reinforce their place in the chain of command. Teachers were respected in those days.

Obviously, however, she did not appreciate the significance of the momentous thing that had just occurred. I could not withhold another effort now. Not for all the respect in the whole world! The "Force" was with me.

"Wh...Whoo...Wheee...Whis...Whis-tle...whistle, whistle, whistle."

There! I had done it. I now had the correct lip contortion locked into memory. From that day forward, I would be able to impress my friends with the sounds of the birds of the air and the wolves of the streets.

I was an equal of my classmates. I was whole. The world was a brighter place to be. I would meet life with a song in my heart and a whistle on my lips.

And—a paddle on my behind. I took my punishment, but it was worth it.

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