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Book Covers

Friday
November 19, 2004

Things on the satellite radio front are becoming more and more exciting. With Howard Stern's promotion of his jump to Sirius on The Late Show With David Letterman last night, along with the news that the well-respected Mel Karmazin has been named as the new CEO of Sirius, things for that company are looking great. However, XM is a fine satellite company as well, and I'm confident that whichever one that Bubba The Love Sponge ends up with will work out great for us as a show (and me personally).

I booked my plane tickets very late last night to go home for Thanksgiving. I had to get creative with the booking, as every Sunday flight from Nashville to Tampa on Southwest was packed. But I managed to get the earliest flight on Thanksgiving morning from here to Nashville (which will put me there at about 8 Central time), and I'm booked to return to Tampa on Monday night. It's non-conventional, but it'll work. Plus had I tried to catch a Tuesday or Wednesday flight, it wouldn't have been cheap, even on Southwest.

Today I was thinking about the trip to Nashville and how long it's been since I've seen some people from years gone by. Time starts to get away from you after awhile. Though I like to remember the little things.

When I was in grade school at Overbrook in Nashville, one peculiar thing we had to do was come up with book covers. Unlike high school and college, where we had to pay for our books, the textbooks on the grade school level were included in the tuition (I wouldn't call them free; trust me, with Overbrook's tuition, it was certainly not a "free" situation for the parents of any of the students who went there).

Anyway, to keep the books from being damaged too badly by the wear-and-tear from the sometimes less than careful handling of grade schoolers, there was a rule that all books had to have covers placed on them. Now I'm not talking about the stupid covers that they put over Cosmopolitan or Vogue or whatever at grocery stores where overprotective parents in this era of paranoia don't want their kids to see the relatively mundane images and sub-headlines that spring forth on the front. No, Im talking about covers that protected the books in case little Johnny dropped the book walking out to the car or in case young Susie had a leaky pen that would have otherwise stained the front of the book.

Book covers
Some people had store-bought book covers in school, but not me.

I'm not sure what made me think of the book covers today; I hadn't thought about them in years. My covers were always a little different. I guess you could go to the store and buy book covers, but that in hindsight seems like a gratuitous waste of money. I presume that my parents thought likewise, or perhaps they didnt know about that as an option. Anyway, I remember some years that wed modify paper sacks from the grocery store to use as covers, and one year in particular I recall that we used some white large mailing envelope type material that my Dad had from his old business (SSOE). Unfortunately, the mailing envelope material was of the slick variety, and writing the subject name on the outside was difficult, even with a marker. We ended up putting scotch tape on the outside and writing "Science" or "Math" or whatever on the tape so that I could discern between the books.

The best part though was in the front where you got to put your name and year in the front of the book. Then when it would be passed down to the next year, theyd know whose book from the year before they had. I know it might sound silly, but I found it intriguing to read who had my book back in, say, the 84-85 school year. With some of the older books (and they kept them around as long as they could), I'd actually see names from people who had long since graduated (particularly toward the junior high portion of my grade school years) and who Id never heard of. By that point I dont know that I particularly cared as much as I did when I was younger, but nonetheless it was one of those unique little things about grade school that I remember.

One book that I wanted to keep was in 4th grade (or was it 5th?), the Wordly Wise book. It was a booklet book where you would learn vocabulary words (blame that if some of my jargon on here goes over your head from time to time) and then fill them into the spaces. We were supposed to turn them in at the end of the year (since they would re-order the same batch for next year's class), but for some reason I wasn't there when the enforcers collected them. I would've kept it, with the potential I suppose of selling it to someone in the next class, though I'm not sure that I was savvy enough at that point to have actually gone through with it. Either way, I didn't keep my mouth shut about it. In a related note, sadly it took more than just that experience for me to learn the value of knowing when to listen and when to talk. One of my classmates, maybe Andrew Stahl (I think it was him, but I'm not sure), snatched it from me, ran over to the dumpster by St. Cecilia (the all-girls Catholic high school that was attached to Overbrook and the campus) and heaved it in there. John Slowey might've been involved in it, too. And no, I didn't go dumpster diving for it.

Orange cone
Roofing the cones... that takes me back.

As long as I'm talking grade school, I'd be remiss to leave out one of the funniest stories ever from junior high. This beats when Chris Lucas and I would try to "roof the cones" (throw these orange cones that were outside for no particular reason) on top of the roof over by the gym storage area that faced the track/soccer field in 7th grade, or the time when Chris made "needle-tipped paper airplanes" (actually we used a bent paper-clip, not a needle) and would get them to stick in the vaulted ceiling of the downstairs area of the Overbrook library (the ceiling of which was two stories high... and the unfortunate janitor Robert would have to climb up on a ladder to dislodge them). Yes, this story beats them all. It's the time Matthew Cheek bashed in a wall with a plaster cast creation from Art class.

Forgive me if my memory is a little fuzzy, but this happened roughly 15 years ago (7th grade). The room was in a new part of the building, an expansion added on as Overbrook had grown to the point where they had to divide the homerooms into "3rd Grade A" and "3rd Grade B". We were one of the last undivided classes; we would still be separated into two groups for class, with the more advanced students (including me) in one, and the others in the other class. But for homeroom, and for the purposes of bonding and what not, we were one class.

In the spring of 1989 in Art class we had to make these plaster cast sculpture men. Now I never did well at Art. At all. Sister Janet Marie (who has since passed away) pulled no punches when it came to evaluating our artwork. Especially mine. And as I lacked much in the way of artistic talent, Art was not a class that I particularly did well in or enjoyed. But I tried. Anyway, the point is that we all made these plaster figures.

Well for most of us, the figures either went in the trash or went home and on a shelf or whatever. That afternoon, as I recall, it was Matthew Cheek, Nick Greco and I in Mrs. Hancocks classroom. But Matthew decided to have some fun with his. "Hee hee, watch this guys," I remember him saying... and then he began bashing his figure against a free-standing wall that (as I recall) had a chalkboard on one side and a coat rack in the back. It was built in the late 80s, so it was almost brand new at that point.

Matthew might not have looked it, but he had some strength to him, and he swung hard enough and long enough to put a large dent into the wall. The actual corner of the wall was dented in hard. At the time it had me laughing, but it also put me in a bit of disbelief.

The school did not look kindly at Matthew's actions. I don't know how exactly they found out, but I know I didn't rat on him (see the above passage about knowing when to keep your mouth shut... I don't think I was alone on that in grade school, as Matthew apparently thought it was funny enough to share with others). I'm not sure if it was the wall-bashing incident that did it (his family had the money to pay for repairs), but that was the beginning of the end of things for Matthew at Overbrook.

It'll be nice to be back in Nashville this upcoming weekend. It'll be my first time back since August (the trip pre-empted for a week by Hurricane Charley). I can't wait...


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