Boomer Blog: A random state of mind


I have been in a random state of mind lately. This week’s article, then, is something of a potluck…

I recently wrote about the newspaper we all read in grade school: Weekly Reader. Wanting to include how often we received our copies, I googled my question. After reading the most definitive article I could find TWICE, I finally remembered the title: WEEKLY Reader! Duh!

Last week I saw a report about the Girls Auto Clinic Repair Center that opened recently near Philadelphia. Its entire staff is female, and they refer to themselves as “shecanics”!

Their concept makes sense. 51% of the nation’s drivers are female, but only 2% of mechanics are women. By the way, the Center also offers a nail salon. How convenient: having a mani or a pedi while waiting for an oil change!

I was saddened to hear of Mary Tyler Moore’s passing. I enjoyed her on The Dick Van Dyke Show when I was in high school and was surprised by her poignant portrayal of a grieving mother in Ordinary People.

It was her own show, however, that I most admired. I was a regular viewer when it debuted the year I began teaching. Every Saturday night I watched the in-your-face attitude of Archie Bunker on All in the Family and stayed tuned to CBS for The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

As news producer Mary Richards, the actress modeled a realistic form of feminism. Navigating her way through tricky work and social relationships, she demonstrated true class as she balanced her insecurities with firm self-respect; and she never once burned her undergarments!

I still appreciate that the humor in The Mary Tyler Moore Show arose from the reactions of well-drawn characters to amusing situations – as opposed to the jumble of one-liners on which many current comedies depend.

In my recent article about music, I completely forgot to mention the record hops we had after every home basketball and football game. I need only hear a few measures from “Big Girls Don’t Cry” or “Unchained Melody” to be right back in the dimly-lit GHS gym. Songs to and about girls – “Hello, Mary Lou”; “Wake Up, Little Susie”; “Sherry” – conjure up recollections of the girls crowding the dance floor, with the guys coming off the bleachers to join their “honeys” for the “slow” songs. Sigh…

I also mentioned Swan Lake and Carmen in that music column but did not explain the surrounding situations. The Stuttgart ballet company was world-famous, but I had no previous experience for comparison. I just sat mesmerized by the flock of swans fluttering across the stage. When I reached down to pick up the program I had dropped, I saw the other half of the stage equally filled with dancers – twice as many swans as I had originally calculated. Then I was really impressed!

My friends and I were on a shoestring budget when we attended the opera in Munich. We scored fantastically-cheap tickets, only to discover our seats on the top level clear at the end of the row, from which we could see only a quarter of the stage: we had unknowingly bought “listener tickets.” Our evening consisted of my quietly translating the action described in the program to my friends who leaned forward to confirm what was happening on the stage below. I still would not trade that experience for anything!

Many sports enthusiasts spent January watching basketball and the run-up to the Super Bowl. Not me. I followed two of my favorite sports: the Australian Open Tennis Tournament and the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams repeated as winners of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. It certainly was impressive that the four players in the finals – Federer, Rafa Nadal, and the Williams sisters – are all over the age of thirty. Wow!

I always admire the athleticism and energy necessary for tennis. One semifinal match lasted almost five hours, five whole hours of two opponents running back and forth across the court whacking the heck out of the ball. Few other athletic contests last so long and depend upon so few players. Whew!

I enjoy the athleticism but also the artistry of figure skating. 17 year-olds won the men’s and women’s competitions and will represent America at the world championships in March.

Nathan Chen, who achieved the highest score ever, is an unbelievable jumper. In his four-and-a-half minute program he landed five quadruple jumps, along with assorted triple ones.

He regularly flings himself into the air, whirls around four times, and plants one bladed boot to land on a slippery surface. I am lucky to get safely across my carpeted living room wearing flat, rubber-soled shoes!

What I find additionally fascinating is that the first-ever double jump was landed at the Olympics in 1948. Some seventy years later, the number of spins has doubled. I wonder if the skaters of 2087 will be landing octuple jumps…

I will close with two quotations. Shortly before the orderly and peaceful transfer of power from one chief executive to the next, the outgoing president reminded us: “the most important office in a democracy is that of citizen.”

And a former student of mine recently inspired me with these words: “I will stand up for your rights as much as my own. I understand that your equality does not diminish mine.”

Thoughts worth pondering…

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.

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