I suppose my reference to “junior high” would reveal my age, even if I didn’t freely admit I’m sixty-nine and will turn seventy in September. Middle schools hadn’t been thought up yet when I was young.
I don’t recall much about my junior high school other than the fact it was a quick bike ride from home. In fact, I’m afraid to guess at its name now.
I do recall a few of my teachers, though. Mr. Slaughter taught phys. ed.; he threw a basketball (hard!) at anyone talking out of turn. Mrs. Alexander was a witch, or so it seemed. Mr. Garrison taught what I think was called “core classes,” which meant I had him for three subjects that year.
One of my most memorable teachers was Miss Smith, who came to our house every day after school while I was recovering from the encephalitis which could have killed me or left me barely more than a vegetable. Thanks to her I made it through that first year of algebra.
But my favorite subject was actually something I wasn’t that good at: industrial arts, otherwise known as “shop.” Although I did make a wrought iron wall lamp for my parents–they used it for a number of years–most of my shop projects were wooden.
A lot of the guys–I don’t recall any girls being in my shop class–made wooden bowls by gluing wood together to get the right thickness and then scooping the insides out. That idea never appealed to me, though.
I had a real fascination with guns in those days, though, and I received a lot of attention with the halfway realistic-looking musket I made. Too bad I didn’t do any research first and make it completely realistic.
I also made a few little wooden cars.
As much as I enjoyed shop, you’d think my grades would’ve been higher. But, no. I couldn’t do any better than a C. I mentioned my lack of research regarding the musket? That lack of attention to detail typified all of my shop work. Whether I lacked the skill or simply the patience, I couldn’t say. Or perhaps the encephalitis affected my ability to do things like that.
No matter what the reason for my lack of expertness, small projects as an adult haven’t been much better. Perhaps I should simply be satisfied that they’re functional.
And I should thank Mr. Spencer posthumously–he’s surely been dead for many years now–for instilling the love of creation in me, even if he failed in his best efforts to teach me the skills.
Do you thoroughly enjoy doing something you’re not very good at? Like singing or playing an instrument? I’d love to hear about it, if you’d leave a comment.
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