Taking in the passing scene …


By Shirley Scott



Now that the holidays have passed, I hope I will again know the day of the week without looking it up. Lately every week seems to contain three Sundays, what with the eves-before-eves as well as the eves themselves occurring on successive weekends. Having Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Mondays caused two straight weeks of mental chaos: how am I supposed to know which day the trash truck will come?

I managed to stay awake on New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball fall; but revelers in Times Square sporting those oversized 2018 glasses reminded me that 18 years ago we held our collective breaths in Y2K fear that our computer systems would crash and burn. They survived – only to be continually hacked by an entire array of lowlifes wanting our money and our votes.

Although $1.26 for gas and 33 cents for a postage stamp seem quaintly cheap today, we certainly groused about those prices 18 years ago. And as 2000 wound down, the country faced uncertain election results between George Bush and Al Gore – the whole thing decided by hanging chads and the Supreme Court. 18 years ago we naively could not imagine any future presidential election rivaling the craziness of that 2000 contest.

The best part of the intervening 18 years? A whole, new generation of kids at whom we roll our eyes because of their immaturity, who roll right back at our oldness! Most of those cap-and-gown wearers clutching diplomas come spring will have been born in the “new” century, which is already almost two decades old.

I am relieved that TV stations are finally returning to regular programming, having had my fill of Christmas-related movies. I did not watch It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story this year, although I think every station ran them multiple times. And I find most of the modern, made-for-TV movies with Yuletide themes too wacky for me.

One treat, however, was The Sound of Music, still special because seeing it with my mother and sisters was pretty much Christmas for us in 1965, the year we moved to Ford Road. I do think that ABC could have arranged commercials more strategically. I found it distracting and disrespectful to interrupt such a beautifully-classic story every ten minutes to hawk shampoo and dog food.

But the highlight of holiday viewing events was a rare airing of Love Story from 1970. The minute I heard that haunting harpsichord theme music, I was once again a new college grad, standing in front of my first English students. Erich Segal’s novel had taken GHS by storm – as would happen with Hunger Games and anything Harry Potter years later.

The film with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw then brought to life the story of Oliver and Jenny, the privileged Harvard grad and his music teacher wife. Part of me watched through my Boomer filter, finding the story trite and schmaltzy and so 1970’s. Most of me, however, was transported to those idealistic days when our heart strings could be pulled by romantic montages and a sad ending – back when we believed “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

What I did not watch during the holidays was football. I simply do not possess the attention span to watch more than four consecutive downs of football. Thus, I did not see the Buckeyes dominate USC in the Cotton Bowl.

Nor did I witness a true gridiron barnburner as Georgia beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Until my sister corrected me, however, I thought that game was for all the marbles. Good grief! There is still another whole game before a national champion is crowned.

However, I renew my objections about sports played “out of season.” I mean, football – a fall sport – will finally conclude at the Super Bowl in February. And the Madness we allow in March will wrap things up almost a week after baseball’s opening day. Oh, well. At least I will be watching Olympic figure skating in season.

As recuperative as lounging in front of my television has been, the best parts of the holidays were not televised at all. They were lovely family visits, beginning with a Christmas Day dinner catered by my sister and brother-in-law. After eating an institutional Thanksgiving dinner from a tray by my bed, our Christmas menu of ham and lots of delectable trimmings was all the more appreciated.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed catching up on the state of the world with my NASCAR nephew and history teacher niece-in-law, I had a really grand time when they later returned, their daughters in tow. When the world is too much with me, there is nothing more restorative then observing the passing scene from the perspective of a first-grader and her three-year-old sister.

Somehow a game of pick-up sticks and dances across the living room floor allowed the specter – of two world leaders engaging in dangerous brinkmanship about the size of their nuclear buttons – to recede, at least for a few hours.

Sadly, it is time to once again involve myself in the passing scene filled with continuing concerns difficult to dismiss. However, I plan to do my best to make sure that 18 years from now our country will be a safer and better place – as my great nieces and nephews step into their futures.

By Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.