Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

August 24, 2010

Way Back When…

By Dr. Don Newbury
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Persons of a certain age waxed melancholy recently upon the death of a musical icon, Mitch Miller. He of “follow-the-bouncing-ball” fame, along with his orchestra, was much in the nation’s entertainment spotlight with a weekly TV show on NBC in the 1960s. Miller died a year shy of his 100th birthday.

My Uncle Mort, who just turned 98 years of age, remembers a lament associated with the popular musician. A half-century ago, Mort made this observation: “In the days of my youth, my life was one of wine, women and song. Nowadays, it’s Metrecal, the old gal and ‘Sing Along with Mitch.’”

Tony Bennett credits Miller with providing the impetus to get his career “off and running,” and in 1955, Mitch had a number one hit with “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

It is that time again. Their loins girded, educators are at their posts, ready to greet youngsters and their bright shiny faces in classrooms throughout the land.

In short, school has started.

One elementary school teacher, listening to recitations of Henry Van Dyke’s “America for Me” poem for the zillionth time, claims that times do occur when teachers “tune out.”

A fifth grader caught her attention, though, with his recitation of the first verse. “’Tis fine to see the old world, and travel up and down, among the famous places and cities of renown. To admire the crumbly castles and the statues and the kings. But now I think I’ve had enough of AMPUTATED things.”

She’s pretty sure he meant “antiquated.”

Educators are urged to have pens and pads at the ready. What their students say and do can make a book some day.

One distinctive group of youngsters typically is identified by just two letters--“PK.”

They are, of course, “preachers’ kids,” whose words and deeds are on display daily in their worlds of “fishbowl living.”

Rev. Robert Mattson, who frequently preaches and/or sings at funerals, is often accompanied by his 11-year-old son, T J. While his dad is at work, he typically busies himself by reading or playing electronic games in a quiet room adjacent to the sanctuary.

At a recent funeral, just as Mattson entered the sanctuary, his son offered this encouragement: “Knock ‘em dead, Dad,” he said.

A nameless boy of yesteryear just didn’t “gee-haw” with arithmetic. The teacher rattled off a series of multiplication questions. To the youngster, they sounded like so: “Billy, tell me what’s two tum two, what’s two tum three, what’s two tum four?”

The youngster’s blank stare lingered as if set in stone.

“Mrs. Wilson,” he whined, “You can stop right there — I don’t even know what ‘tootum’ is!”

Here’s wishing teachers, at all levels everywhere, the very best in this new school year, and the same wish goes for students, too.

May students regularly hear an inspiring quote which can be attributed only to anonymity.

It reads: “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ hope whispers back, ‘Try it one more time.’”

A final mention this week concerns Henry V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire some 500 years ago. Many of his quotes have survived the ravages of centuries. Even then, who knows how many of his statements were original?  One Internet source credits him with the “I came, I saw, I conquered” quote. Many folks think it was Julius Caesar who first strung these words together, albeit in Latin, during his rule in the late “BC” years.

Tabbed as the “wise ruler,” Charles V came up with this gem: “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse!”

He’s also credited with a similar quote: “Italian is the language for opera; French is the language for love; German is the language for war; English is the language to train horses, and Spanish is the language to speak with God.”

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Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. He may be reached by e-mail at newbury@speakerdoc.com. His Web site is www.speakerdoc.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? E-mail: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com