more Stanley stories

Still telling tales from Stanley Elementary, for those keeping score….

We had art class, and there were only three things I remember. One, how to draw a certain kind of monster, that pottery is very difficult. And an art project that Miriam did… now I suspect, Miriam was one of those kids that teachers hoped for, and then feared. She was the perfect student, and could’ve been the teacher’s pet, but she didn’t care. She did her work quietly, and as perfect as a 5th grader can, didn’t care about honors, and I suspect was embarrassed by recognition. As you can expect, our art teacher was a hippie. We were drawing with pastels, which I loved because they feel so smooth when you draw on paper, they just glide. Miriam drew a beautiful fruit display, in my memory it was as good as the teachers, and of course, the art teacher was giving Miriam plenty of complements all during class. But for the finishing touch, Miriam drew an ashtray with a smoking cigarette in front of the fruit bowl. It still looked good, very realistic. The teacher freaked out. She was appalled and wanted to know why Miriam would want to ruin a beautiful drawing with an ugly cigarette and ashtray. I learned my lesson, the quality was the same before and after, still realism, so, art is judged by personal opinion and taste.

(Speaking of freaking out teachers, is it just me, or did anyone else have a teacher that seriously had a break down in class? 4th grade JAWS teacher, broke down, yelled and screamed, and stormed out of the class room. 8th grade German teacher did the same. Anyone? Really? It was just me that had two teacher meltdowns? )

In the science class, was a dumb-waiter, which, many of the boys would take turns riding. Me, I was too chicken. But, we would often go to the downtown library, and being explorers, go into the basement and dark archives and stacks, wandering around.

And, these were the good old days, when there were no barriers to keep stupid people safe, the class went to Gas Works Park on a field trip, and the boys, were climbing all over the gas works. You know, more than ten feet in the air, above concrete, walking on pipes, playing tag. Those poor teachers and chaperones.

We often went to the beach at Dash Point State Park, where, the D&D playing boys would go off, find sticks, and try to hit each other in the head with them. Me, mostly chicken. But Mark, a little kid, was fearless, and would get two small light sticks and go berserk against Tony, a big kid who was the only one tough enough to take the multiple hits Mark would land, and strong enough to swing a huge branch, and knock Mark back. It was like Wolverine -vs- the Hulk…or Belkar -vs- Thog.

Now one of the great things of being put with a bunch of other nerds and/or gifted students, is exposure to new games. Like Dungeons & Dragons and chess. 5th grade, I saw some kids playing chess, and using an encyclopedia, figured out the moves, and started playing with my friends. By 8th grade I was one of the best in the school, but then I turned into an unsportsman like little snot in 9th grade, and am told that I embarrassed my mother at a chess match.  I suspect it’s very difficult to teach kids to give it their best in competition, with out having them turn into monsters. Luckily, I realized that best at my school, didn’t amount to much, because our school was about average in the league. I did like our team, I thought it had variety, at one time there was me, Tim- a stoner dude, who said, “when I grow up, I wanna be an alcoholic, screw social drinking”, James – the jock of Hunt Jr High, Kim – one of the cheer leaders, and our captain, Cham, whose part time job was translating for City of Tacoma because he spoke fluent Vietnamese and Cambodian. Heck, almost like a John Hughes movie, when I think about it.

Dungeons & Dragons, this was about the time that there were media rumors about how it was an evil game, and causing kids to turn to Satan worship. I didn’t know about the media rumors, until I asked my parents to buy the game for me. They, were very concerned, asked questions, I felt they were making a big deal about nothing, and I decided if it was gonna be that much hassle, I just wouldn’t talk about it with them anymore.  (Lesson to future me, in a few years, don’t freak out about __, when your children do __, because you still want to keep open lines of communication.) So every now and then at recess, we would play D&D. But by the time I got to Jr High, I quit, because I wanted to do something cooler…chess. And then, around the time I turned 30, I wanted to play again, and Zorloc knew how to play, and he and I coaxed all of our friends into playing almost weekly for a couple of years, before most of them realized, “this is boring”. It is one of the success of my life, two of those people currently are in the gaming industry, and I would to think I can take a tiny bit of credit for that since I introduced them to the fun of D&D.

Now the funny thing, years later, my brother found the D&D books, and he started playing, and it was no big deal to my parents. And another funny thing, he grew up to be a preacher.



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