Tuesday, January 29, 2008

E is for Elementary Education

For grades K-6, I attended Richards Gordon Elementary. I must admit I always thought the name was Richard Gordon Elementary, but having done some research at the St. Paul School District website I found out differently, as noted above. I also found out that the building, located at Dayton Ave, & Fry St, was built in 1911 and named for (duh) Richards Gordon-a prominent St. Paul clothier and hat maker at the time. The school closed in the mid-70s. The building is now an office building, pictures of it can be seen here: http://www.richardsgordon.com/index.html

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"To write it out is to let it go." --Rod McKuen

When I was in junior high (what they now call 'middle school' locally) there was an commercial on television featuring those clear body Bic ball point pens. The ones they now call Bic Cristal. There were several variations on the same theme, but the one I remember most went something like this: There was big mechanical arm with a Bic pen clamped to it. The arm was poised above a huge writing tablet, on which it wrote in large swirls and circles with the pen-- like a giant Spirograph. In walks a scientist and his assistant. The scene shifts to show us a close up of the pen clamped in the machine--said pen is almost out of ink! Where upon the scientist breaks out in an exuberant dance and happily proclaims,
"At long last! My life long goal will be fulfilled! I will be the first ever to have retained a Bic pen from the first time it wrote until it ran out of ink!" Just then the doorbell rings and someone is delivering packages for which he needs a signature. They sign for it with the pen from the machine. You hear the sound of the truck driving off and the scientist turns back to his machine.... and of course the pen is gone! Oh no! he used the pen to sign for the package and the deliver man kept the prized pen! Ahhh!! He has to start all over...

The point (no pun intended) of the commercial was that Bic Pens lasted along time, were reliable, and were cheap to replace.

I, however; took the goal of that commercial to heart. My goal and purpose in life was to hang on to a Bic pen until it ran out of ink. I became obsessed with it. I quickly figured out that medium point pens go through ink a lot faster then their fine point counterparts. I also thought blue went faster then black ink, but that might have been an illusion. I shared this goal with several of my classmates who just laughed. One teacher heard about my goal and said, 'Why not? A goal of any sort is a good thing.'
Like the scientist, I found out it is difficult to hang on to those pens until they go dry. My quest continued into high school, by which time it seemed like I was the only one who remembered that commercial, and I got some strange looks from people insisting the had my 'special Bic pen' and they had to give it back!

I finally reached my goal during my senior year. And in time had not one, but several EMPTY Bic pens. I kept them like trophies in a drawer in my dresser. I don't know what ever happened to them. I suspect one day my Mom was looking for a pen and discovering that they no longer wrote, threw them out as trash.

So then, having achieved my life goal, I was goal-less. I was just thinking I haven't had that kind of goal in a long time--one that I put consistent energy into. Several people over the course of the years have told me I should 'do' creative writing. And I've made attempts to write and/or journal in the past. I did take Creative Writing and poetry seminars and classes in junior and senior high school. so I have decided to give it another try. This is the first effort.