Thursday, April 13, 2017

From "Toots'"To "Tanny"

High School classmates are special. Since we spent a great deal of time together for eighteen or so years there's an inevitable life long bond. Why, some of us have stayed together longer than the first two or three marriages one person tried to maintain but to avail.

One of the best guys in our class was a fella who started out with the nickname of 'Toots'. It might have had something to do with his non-athletic, rather wimpy physical stature. He was beloved, though, because of his drier than the Mohave Desert wit and his more than engaging self-deprecating humor. I'm not certain when the physical body transformation occurred but by the time we graduated from high school he had discovered weightlifting and his physical transformation was spectacular. So, 'Toot's became 'Tanny' as in Vic Tanny and he's stayed the same physical specimen for 50 years. Luckily for all of us, his wit and wisdom have not diminished.

Tanny sent me a copy of his early life in grade school and asked if I'd publish it. It isn't Hemingway material by any stretch. What it is is the remembrance of a common bond we all shared beginning in the 1950's. You won't recognize the names. You will recognize the situations and maybe feel a little better today about recalling old time memories of those with whom we grew and, hopefully, matured. MJH

I Don’t think my life really began until I entered school. The first few years just seemed to evaporate; uneventful. I don’t remember them at all.
Then fourth grade happened and I met my most brutal teacher – Miss Mayer. She surely must have kicked her dog at the end of a hard day or any day for that matter.
I remember practicing my penmanship in the manual. I know I wasn’t staying in the lines. In fact, I was pretty cavalier about it and strayed off of the dotted lines regularly.
While I sat doing my penmanship practice and thinking about nothing in particular, a pair of hands from behind me grasped my neck and started choking me, demanding “you can do better that that, right?” she said.
I choked out a squeaky “ya” from beneath her death grip on my throat.
Just as quickly as the rear attack began, she was gone; circulating around the room to bedevil some other poor nine year old.
We made paper mache puppets in class. My friend, John Hinz, was playing around and whacked Janet Prichard’s watch with his puppet. As it turns out it broke the crystal face on her watch.
I don’t recall anyone moving so fast in my life but once again there were those hands coming out of nowhere and choking John.
“You’re going to pay to fix her watch,” Miss Mayer emplored. A barely audible “ya…ya” was voiced by John. Then she disappeared into the classroom probably to terrorize some other poor kid.
I don’t know what happened to her. I know she got married the very next summer and maybe moved or stayed where she was but I don’t recall reading of any spousal abuse. All I knew was that she was out of my life by June.
It might have been around the same time that an incident happened in music class. We didn’t go there every day, I think once a week. It is still done about that same way – some things never change.

While in class we rehearsed some song, but I don’t remember the name. I was probably so traumatized by her actions that’s why, to this day, music doesn’t mean much to me.
While on the risers the whole group was singing and sounding pretty good, I thought. And then interrupting our singing, the music teacher, I forget her name, told myself, Jim Miles and Dale Reynoldson to stop singing. She then said, and I have forgotten many more important comments in my life, “please don’t sing, we want to make this song perfect.” I’ve never forgotten that comment. It was not music to my ears.
Actually I don’t even whistle very often.

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