You hurt my dog, I’ll kick your ass! — Judy Witwicky, Transformers
You hurt my dog, I’ll kick your ass!
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I would like to take a moment to wish this blog a Happy 8th Blogiversary! Since June 21, 2004 I have posted more than 1,000 times. Posting wouldn’t be much fun without you, the reader so THANKS to you. I love to read your comments, too!
I’m currently in Salt Lake City on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Family History Library. I can’t wait to bring back what I’ve found and share it with you!
Week 46. Politics. What are your childhood memories of politics? Were your parents active in politics? What political events and elections do you remember from your youth?
Politics are not something that was really discussed in my household. I’ve never paid much attention to them as I’ve gone through my adult life either. I knew my DaD was registered as a Republican so I followed suit when I first registered to vote in Tempe, Arizona in 1995 when I turned 18. I didn’t vote in the 1996 election for Bill Clinton or Al Gore; I can’t even remember why. I think I was busy that day and it just wasn’t important to me at the time.
Democrat vs Republican
I moved to Burlington, Massachusetts in May 1999 and registered to vote when I applied for my Massachusetts driver’s license. I first registered as a Republican, and cast my vote in the preliminaries for John McCain whom I had personally met a few years earlier in Arizona.
After that, I started to dig around to see what the difference was between Republican and Democratic views. After a bit of research, I decided my views leaned more into the blue side of the house, although I didn’t much agree with most of the politicians on various things. I’m somewhere in the middle and often agree with one or two things on both candidates’ agendas. I promptly went down and switched my party affiliation from Republican to become a registered Democrat.
During the main election in 2000, I cast my vote for Al Gore and watched the Florida debacle play out with George W. Bush as the eventual winner. This event shaped my view of politics even further. I figured if it didn’t matter what my vote was, then why the hell was I voting?
We moved back to Phoenix, Arizona in 2001 and I once again registered as a Democrat voter. During the 2004 election, I once again tromped down to cast my vote for the Democratic candidate John Kerry and watched, frustrated, as George W. Bush won again.
During the 2008 election I voted in the primary for Hilary Clinton but unfortunately she didn’t make it through. During the main election, I was very proud to vote for Barack Obama and was happy to see that for once in my life, the person I voted for actually won an election. It is ironic to me that he was running against John McCain – the first Republican I ever voted for back in Massachusetts.
I’ve never told my father that I switched parties to become a Democratic voter. Since he reads this blog often, I’m interested in what his reaction will be. I have a feeling that all these years we’ve essentially been cancelling each others’ votes out. Incidentally, my cousin Christopher is also a registered Democrat. He also started out life as a registered Republican and switched just like I did. I must admit, his views go a little too far to the left sometimes; get him talking politics and you’ll need some kind of miracle to make him stop. (Love ya, Chris!)
Week 45. High School. Describe your middle and/or high school. Was it a large or small student body? Is the school still in existence today? How has it changed since you went there?
I attended Bridgeport Middle School from 1988-1991. Our mascot was the Bearcat. It housed students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades during my tenure across two floors. It always seemed to me that the school was huge compared to the number of classes it held. There were three gymnasiums and a massive recess area out back where we spent our lunch hour every day.
BMS introduced me to the idea of a Home Room – a period at the beginning of the day when we received announcements and instructions for the first 15 minutes or so. My Home Room was in classroom 111. We then moved from one period to the next, switching teachers throughout the day starting in 6th grade. Our schedules were given to us. We weren’t allowed to pick which classes we wanted until High School. They rotated us through various skill classes for 6 week time slots such as Home Economics, Cooking, Wood Shop, Metal Shop, Typing, Gym and the like. After I left BMS, Bridgeport changed their structure to support grades 1-4 in Elementary school and grades 5-8 in Middle school.
Jessica's Junior Year ID Card
Harry High. That’s what most people called Heritage High School while I attended from 1991 through 1995. It is located at 3465 N Center Road in Saginaw, Michigan. My father moved us from Bridgeport to Saginaw Township so I could attend Heritage instead of Bridgeport High School, which was filled with drugs and crime. Heritage was fairly new when I started attending. The Saginaw Township School District closed Eisenhower and one other school, combining them to create one central school for the area. I think we were the fifth graduating class for Heritage; the first official full graduating class had finished the year before I arrived.
Stock Photo of HHS
HHS was laid out in three massive circular domes connected to a central circle dome where the gymnasium was housed. Prom was in the gym, as were all of our student pep ralleys. There wasn’t a straight wall in the building. Most of the classrooms had access to the outside of the building but we rarely used those doors. The teachers kept them closed unless we were venturing outside for a class activity.
The lockers were inside the central circle and were double stacked – top and bottom. My locker was the very first one you saw when you walked into the school, in the first bank on the lower left. We kept the same locker all four years we were in the school. My locker was clean and always tidy. I don’t recall ever hanging pictures or fun things inside like so many of my 90’s classmates did.
Our mascot was the Hawk and our colors were Navy Blue and Kelly Green. We were considered a Class A school with 357 graduating seniors in the class of 1995. I was #57/357 in the ranks as far as GPA goes. I graduated with double honor chords. I think we had somewhere around 1,300 students on average. The school hasn’t changed too much since I was there, except there seems to be a lot more crime in the area now than 20 years ago. I think that might be true everywhere.
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Week 44. Elementary School. Describe your grammar/elementary school (or schools). Were they big or small? Are any of these schools still in existence today? If so, how have they changed since you went there?
Perfect Attendance Award
I attended Harvey E. Kauffman Elementary School in Bridgeport, Michigan from 1983-1988. The school converted into a community center while I was in high school. It held two classes each of grades 1st through 5th, or approximately 300 students. My teachers were Mrs. Raul (1st), Miss Dey (2nd), Mrs. Ruthig (3rd), Mrs. Mustric (4th) and Mr. Cooper (5th). I have previously written about James Cooper in the Favorite Teachers week of this series.
The Principal of the school was Mr. William Case, whom I posing with in this photo to receive my Perfect Attendance award on February 1, 1984 during 1st grade.
The Challenger space shuttle exploded during third grade on January 28, 1986. We had learned about the shuttle launch in school through the Weekly Reader, and took a moment of silence when we heard the news that day. A few weeks later on Valentine’s day, I was awarded Student of the Week (February 14, 1986).
I was a Hall Monitor during 5th grade for the area outside the gymnasium. I wore an official school-issued Hall Monitor patch around my upper arm that was white with blue embroidery. My job was to stop kids from running out to the busses at the end of the day. I took my post very, very seriously.
Week 43. Worst School Subject. What was your worst or least favorite subject in school and why?
Periodic Table of Elements
Hands down, my worst and least favorite school subject was Chemistry. Sure, I enjoy blowing stuff up in the lab just like the next 10th grader. I just didn’t have patience for memorizing the periodic table or understanding the chemical composition of mercury. I didn’t care about what stuff was made of or where specific elements are found in our world.
I’m sure it didn’t help that I absolutely hated my teacher. He and I butted heads so badly that I just couldn’t concentrate on anything he was trying to teach us. I got so mad at my Chemistry teacher one day that I got up and stomped out of class, slamming the door on my way out. I sent myself to the Principal’s office and complained about his lack of respectability. I learned a hard lesson that day. I think it was something like, “Too damn bad. You have to deal with it.” I was promptly sent back to class.
Chemistry remains to this day the only class – ONLY CLASS – that I ever received a “D” in. Later as a Freshman at Arizona State University I failed Brief Calculus the first time around (another sore subject) but retook it and got a “B.”
Week 42. Favorite School Subject. What was your favorite subject in school and why? Was it also your best subject?
My favorite subjects are difficult to choose between because I enjoyed them for different reasons.
I always loved computer classes. Big surprise, eh? In elementary school my 4th grade class had Apple IIe computers and we played The Oregon Trail and Lemonade Stand. During middle school we learned typing; fortunately for me I was able to type faster than my teacher did (92 words per minute) so she signed a waiver for me to skip the class and volunteer across the street at the developmental school over her class period.
Computer Programming was really fun in high school; I even took it as Independent Study for a few semesters. I learned Logo and C languages on the Apple platform in class from 1992-1994. I built a race track betting game for my classmates to play. It randomized the winners of the “horses” (aka circles on the screen) around the track and my classmates bet on them.
For my senior prank in June 1995, on the last day of high school I snuck into the AutoCAD lab and dropped the DOS prompt into the Startup folder on all of the computers loaded with the brand new Windows 95 operating system. A few hours later, I heard the CAD teacher call my name over the PA system. Someone ratted me out, but it was worth it to hear about that teacher scratching his head for an hour trying to figure out why the new computers wouldn’t boot.
My other favorite subject had to be Wood Shop (and Metal Shop too). I love building things with my hands. I think I get a combination of that from my mother, who built a lot of her own home furniture back in the day, and my father, who builds model cars. In Wood Shop we were allowed to choose from a number of different projects such as bookends, shelves and a toolbox. I built one of each. My pride and joy was that toolbox – my DaD still has it. I spent a few weeks cutting the boards to the exact dimensions, sanding it endlessly so it was perfectly smooth and staining it a beautiful dark brown color. It even had an inner removable tray. Metal Shop was fun too; I believe I built a pair of candlestick holders. I wasn’t very good with the blow torch but I did enjoy trying to learn how to use it.
My best subject was always English or whichever variant of English I was taking at the time. Poetry, fiction, essays – as long as I was writing, I was doing well and always enjoyed it. I guess that’s why I love to blog so much today. It comes easy to me and I enjoy it very much.
Week 41. Teachers. Did you have a favorite teacher when you were growing up? What class(es) did this person teach and why did he/she make an impact on your life?
Me (left) with Mrs. Harrison's Students at Michigan Youth Arts Festival
Mr. James Cooper of Kaufmann Elementary School in Bridgeport, Michigan was my favorite teacher. He taught my 5th grade class in 1987-1988, and I adored him. He was an amazing teacher. Mr. Cooper didn’t take any shit from anybody. He explained things so we could understand them. He guided us through our lessons with charisma and excitement. He made me want to learn! I read books for him. I did math for him. I acted in a commercial for the school play because he asked me to. I just wanted to be a better person because of him. He just had that incredible quality that makes a truly stellar teacher rise above the rest. Mr. Cooper later moved to Bridgeport Junior High to teach 8th grade Science after I graduated and went to college. Mr. Cooper made me want to be an educator when I grew up.
Mrs. Louise Harrison of Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan was also an incredible teacher. She taught my senior year Poetry class in 1994-1995, and had similar charisma and a love for her professional that Mr. Cooper displayed. Mrs. Harrison didn’t just teach us about poetry. She helped us to experience it in her classroom. Through writing exercises, workshops and critiques, she showed us how to become better writers on our own – not just because she said so. Mrs. Harrison loved teaching, and I loved learning from her.
Week 40: Trouble. What happened when you got into trouble as a child? What was punishment like in your home?
That was the punishment for getting in trouble at my house, and I got them a lot. My Mom even called it that! “Come ‘ere, I’ll whip yer ass!” Then DaD would get the belt out and I would run like hell for my bedroom. I was always in trouble for something!
One time I was messing around in the living room and I broke my mother’s glass bowling trophy that was sitting on top of the television. If I remember correctly, I tried to tell her that I didn’t do it. A bold faced lie, I’m certain of it – and she didn’t buy it for a second.
Another infamous time of trouble was when my cousin Shannon Roe and I – may she rest in peace – used sidewalk chalks to confess our love for the hot neighbor guy next door down in Indiana. We drew everywhere, in every color, all over the driveway and sidewalks and the deck and everything. Big giant hearts, our first name with his last name, and lots of scripty scrolly fonts. My Uncle Bret was super pissed! He made us erase it all with the hose. We were cold and water logged after a few hours of trying to undo our deed.
Week 39: Least Favorite Foods. What was your least favorite food from your childhood? Did your parents make you eat it anyway? Do you still dislike the same food today? How have your tastes changed since your youth?
Oh boy. It’s much easier to list what I would eat instead of what I wouldn’t. If it wasn’t pizza, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese or ham, I wasn’t going to eat it.
My mother Diane forced me to eat a hamburger for the privilege to call David B during 3rd grade. He hung up on me. I still hate hamburgers.
My grandmother Florence Cole forced me to eat a New York Strip steak on that trip Out West while we were camping somewhere in the American Frontier. I was so angry at her! She was the only person ever to literally let me starve if I didn’t eat what was given to me on my plate.
My palette has expanded thousands of times over, even since I was in college. Most restaurants I go to, I can usually find several things on the menu to choose from nowadays. It’s a nice feeling to have that freedom finally after years of suppressed taste buds.