Return





Under the Tower

There I was, in the old Study Hall, reading

(or acting like I was reading) from a book

not been part of any class's reading list.  It

was Lucretius's On the Nature of Things,

with Latin on one side and an English

translation on the other.  The study

Master/Latin Teacher Mr. H. Wert,

making his surveillance rounds and

spotting my suspicious activity, immedi-

ately was aware of something bizarre,

since I was not a Latin student and, as far

as anyone could ascertain, did not have

the capacity to learn Latin.

       My explanation was that the recently

hired Mr. L. Graff wanted each student in

his class to read a "Great Book," a

University of Chicago fad, hardly part of

our Cranbrook tradition.  I remember

keenly this curriculum irregularity because

I liked reading something unexpected, and

because I also liked Mr. Graff's usual

method of quieting us loquacious students

with the epithet, "Try blowing it out the of

the other end for a while!"

 

STRUGGLING IN ENGLISH

         Once I was just not 'getting' the signifi-

cance of Lit classes.  Instead of premp-

torily flunking me (I'd been on the 'D'

List), Mr. A. Palmer took me aside one day

and suggested a book not on his reading

list, Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home

Again.  He even lent his personal copy and,

over Christmas, I devoured its 450-odd

pages like it was Christmas candy.  Some

would describe this departure from School

tradition, with such a college-level novel,

as 'unhealthy.'

        If Geometry students could solve

problems with fewer steps in the proof

than Mr. W. Lawrence, they'd get extra

credit.  By th time one class was fully into

isosceles triangles, poor Bill Shulevitz

had amassed so much extra credit he was

deprived of all the tremendous learning

that comes with having to study for and

take exams.

       Another flippancy: one day in

American History our Mr. F. J, Dockstader

asked, "Who was the biggest thief in the

U.S. in the 19th century?"  Toby Maxwell

said, correctly, "Carnegie, because all he

did was steel!" -- a reply much lacking of

course in the School's academic rigor.

       These incidents undercut our School's

keenest scholarship.  So why do I still

treasure those moments?

 fsmith@ucla.edu 

 

THE RENEWED CRANE, Volume XXII, No. 28, 2004, p. 2.






Return