Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 14 – an indifferent scholar

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looking Back: 14 – an indifferent scholar

      Although I hadn't been a scholar or even a particularly good student in high school, (I got kicked out of school for “sassing” my typing teacher one time), learning came fairly easy for me and without trying very hard I got mostly As and Bs with an occasional C here and there. My favorite classes (I know they were my favorites because I remember the teachers' names) were US History and Mechanical Drawing—Mr. Bowden and Mr. Tinker respectively. Mr. Bowden was infectiously enthusiastic about the subject of American History. He knew his stuff and delivered it as though he were a Shakespearean actor. He made history vivid and made it come alive. Mr. Tinker had a long serious face. He wasn't a talker but he didn't need to be. He simply had us draw at these very high architect's desks on barstool like chairs. Then he would constructively criticize and suggest I try this or that technique. I was in the so-called Commercial Course track and Mech. Draw. was a General Course class. I took it as an elective for three years I liked it so much.

      But, indifferent scholar that I had been in high school, I began to read on my own, pretty much as the spirit moved me, in my free time. When you're on duty or at sea there isn't much to do or many places to go on a ship—you know, water, water everywhere. The base always had a library and many ships had a small library on board. I started reading contemporary novels and moved up, little by little, to more classical work even working my way up to some philosophy. I especially liked Plato in those days. Reading provided an incentive and many models to try and write better letters. But my dipstick Ensign unwittingly provided the opportunity and incentive to write something that could really use language to write about the way I felt about a searing emotional experience.

      Ensign S. took a very superciliously condescending attitude toward the accident that I had been involved in without knowing anything about it. He immediately and automatically assumed that I was an irresponsible, possibly drunken, sailor out for a joyride and probably debauching nice decent young girls. He rather treated me like a priest in the confessional. For your penance say 100 Our Fathers and 200 Hail Marys—and, for good measure—throw in 50 Credo in unum deums. Go and sin no more, yada, yada, yada. Or, more accurately, like an adult scolding an errant child or an aging schoolmarm having you write 100 times in your copybook:"I will not _________ (fill in the blank) in the future." I was assigned, I kid you not, to write an essay entitled “Why I should be a safe driver." 

     Well, why not simply wave a red cape in front of the bull? 


      The essay, as I remember it (I wish I had kept a copy) was very simple. I simply and straightforwardly repeated the story, much as I did here, concluding with something like you never know what it's like until one day it happens to YOU (without the caps, though). Interestingly enough I had no more trouble with Ensign S. after that, and I was transferred from the Salinan soon afterward to my last ship the USS Kaskaskia AO-27.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why I should be a safe driver?? No kidding…some 'teachers' really know how to crush the spirit out of someone, don't they?