In the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musical The King and I, Yul Brunner delivers one of my favorite lines: “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” His statement provides a kind of mantra for my life.
My most recent et cetera experience occurred when a compulsion to organize my idea notebook unexpectedly overcame me. The small blue journal remains within easy reach for scribbling the wisps of inspiration that momentarily flash across my brain. I spent an hour consolidating assorted scraps of paper that slip and slide around whenever I open the cover.
I managed to eliminate 35 bits of paper holding potential “Boomer Blog” columns. Of course, not every notion, quotation, or observation rises to the level of an entire article. So I am sharing random bits and pieces from the “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera” I managed to weed out last week.
On Wednesday I wrote myself a note when I heard sportscaster Marty Brennaman announce his retirement after 45 years with the Cincinnati Reds. I am not a diehard baseball fan, but I have heard enough Reds’ broadcasts over the years to recognize the sign-off of his former booth partner, Joe Nuxhall: “This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading home,” as well as Marty’s line: “And this one belongs to the Reds.” Wow! After years of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Frank Robinson, Tony Perez, and Barry Larkin, these days I scarcely recognize the names of anyone currently wearing a Redlegs uniform. Now, without hearing Marty’s voice, I will not even realize the Reds are playing.
Another discarded post-it held a couple of Facebook comments concerning last week’s mention of Chef Boyardee pizza kits. Linda Butts Jenkins and Amy Ludlow Pratt mentioned that a favorite childhood pizza topping was cut-up hot dogs. Mine, too! The pizza kit my mom used in the 50’s contained ingredients for a cheese pizza; pepperoni probably did not enter my culinary vocabulary until sometime in the early 70’s.
I had also recorded a few observations about the effect of inclement weather on our schools. Although school delays and closings no longer affect my daily life, force of habit has me checking the crawl at the bottom of my TV screen whenever flurries fly. I always check for information about all the county schools, Miami East, and the rural schools in Clark County. Sometimes I wonder if television stations realize they will eventually declutter their crowded screens by eliminating those lists that run until 10 AM on snowy mornings. School districts these days send texts – 21st century kids no longer need to crowd around the TV for snow day news.
My friend Jane Sidders and I last week recalled the old days of weather-based classroom interruptions. Case in point: how Graham’s two-hour delay on Monday, two-hour delay on Tuesday, and snow day on Wednesday reminded us that such measures always unavoidably impacted instructional time.
When Jane and I were teaching, a two-hour delay meant morning classes of twelve minutes, with afternoon periods lasting the regular forty minutes. We were both drill sergeants during those abbreviated morning classes as we compressed lessons into the short time available. The challenge occurred when parallel sections of German 1 or sophomore English met in the morning and afternoon – it was difficult to keep everyone at an even pace with such uneven lengths of time.
From time to time, I watch The Art Show on PBS. This past Sunday the program offered a note-generating segment about the Ferris wheel. The amusement ride’s inventor, George Washington Ferris, created the structure for the Chicago World’s Fair, correctly known as the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The original Ferris wheel was built to rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris, also named for its designer, Gustave Eiffel. People attending the Chicago event in 1893 paid fifty cents for two revolutions lasting a total of twenty minutes.
Many notes in my idea book bear the last cute thing one of the little people in my life has said. Regular readers of this column should realize their good fortune that I have no children of my own, giving me far fewer opportunities to bore others with precocious utterances from the munchkins in my family.
A while back I learned that my four-year-old grandniece is over-the-moon excited about her dance recital in June because she “gets to wear her hair in a bun”! She was also confused at a recent baby shower she attended with her mother and older sister; she waited the whole time to go to the bathtub to see “the baby in the shower”!
Regular readers also know I am an inveterate collector and connoisseur of quotations by adults. In fact, many of the scraps in my little blue journal hold phrases and lines – even entire paragraphs – I have copied from the articles and books I read.
I found one of my favorites in the acknowledgements section of Fredrik Backman’s novel, A Man Called Ove. The Swedish author thanked his father with these words: “I hope I am unlike you in the smallest possible number of ways.” Is that not a beautiful tribute?
Well, folks, thanks for being patient with the results of my notebook housekeeping. Even as I have cleared it out somewhat, please know that et cetera is a fact of my life – which I will undoubtedly visit upon you again!
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.