And here is another post from Don "Dan, the River Pirate" Hill. Always appreciated. Always moving. Never disappointing. [This here blog's open to anyone who wants to join in.]
As a stranger in a strange land (Eduland to be exact), I have accustomed myself to lie. Put on a front, you might say. When I am in Eduland, I take a face from the gallery that is expected. I speak in a manner that is befitting. I appear to be interested.
Sometimes, I just got to be me. Under it all, I am just an old southern country boy. At times, I have to go and be alone with Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and that fine purveyor of sour mash, George Dickel. It is just something I have to do. My wife doesn’t really understand, but she understands that I have to do it. I am not knocking other music. Hell, I listen to all kinds of things. Well, about anything except new country music. I really hate liars and frauds. Those guys are nothing but pop singers that wear cowboy hats. Hank Williams never wore no leather pants…
of this dirty ol’ city..
I’m tired of too much work,
And never enough play.
Some folks never work
And they got plenty
Think I’ll walk off my steady job today.
Turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of
Gimme all I got, coming to me.
You can keep your retirement
And your, so called Social Security
Big City, turn me loose and set me free…”
[“Big City,” Merle Haggard]
Now, before you stop reading, this is not about me and my drinking and my love of classic country music. In Eduland, we talk about minorities that suffer. And they do, BIG TIME.
I am starting to think about another minority that is seldom mentioned, yet is suffering. The rural white male from the south is been harmed greatly by the overlords of Eduland. We talk about cases where we dismiss one’s culture, diminish it to an unworthy status. Well, it is happening everyday to white, country boys. Of course, they are not an exception. They are just one more group to add to the butcher’s bill. I should know because I am one and I came from one and I know them and I have taught them.
But, this little scribbling is about another thing….broken promises. The promise that, viva education, you can get more out of life. Is that is the case?
The other day, I went to visit my old man to talk about some home improvement that I have been planning. My dad and I have always had a great relationship. He has taught me more that any school could ever have and I am grateful. I remember days long ago as a teenager, baking in the summer sun and holding a 40 pound steel wrench. My old man would always tell me that he wanted me to go to school (cause he never really had the chance), but he wanted me to learn how to make a good living if school didn’t work out. In my case, my status at school as always one more infraction away from probation violation anyway. I guess I was born a rebel, but I got it honest.
My dad is in his seventies now. As I enjoy his company, I
never look at him without looking at his hands. He’s a small guy with massive
hands. And I think about the years of labor that went into creating them. My
dad was born in a shack in rural
“Every morning at the break of day
He'd grab his lunch bucket and be on his way
In winter or summer, sunshine or rain
Every mornin' he'd run that old log train.
A sweatin' and swearin' all day long
Shoutin' "git-up there oxen, keep movin' along,
Load ‘er up boys cause it looks like rain,
I've got get rollin' this old log train.”
[“Old Log Train” Hank Williams (1949)]
But, he was lucky. He was smart and hard-working enough to survive. After he married my mom in 1952, they moved to the coast and started a business. After many years and few kids, I guess it worked. The business did well because he worked hard and tried to be honest. I will never forget the day that I graduated from college the first time. My old man handed me a wad of cash and said, “You done good.” I was touched deeply. I knew how many years he had struggled to be in a position where he could do that. I remember him saying, “I never really got anything out of school, but it looks like you did. I hope you never have to feel that somebody has got something that you don’t.”
Even through the living hell that I put my parents through as a real delinquent, they wanted me to have school because they never had it. It wasn’t about money. My dad, through hard work and skin-of-your-teeth risks, had made lots of money. He, and I later, knew that I could be financially well off in the drilling and plumbing business. But he and mom saw it as something that I needed that was above money. They, even without the benefits of education themselves, knew that schooling was going to be important for an informed lifestyle. The lifestyle that they wanted for me.
Thanks Dad. Thanks Mom.
I wonder how many moms and dads felt the same way, only to see the schools fail the child. Not grade wise, but educational wise. I was lucky, many haven’t been. I can not count the people that I have known and have taught that have been failed by the system. The same system that was the faith of their parents. If you can just go to school, you won’t have work as hard as I did. You won’t have to be the low man on the totem pole. You can feel on equal footing in this society.
But the sad truth is that the vision does match the reality anymore.
The simple truth is that Eduland today is not providing these kids with a way to do anything. The days, when my old man was able to dump school at 12 and go on to make a good living later on down the line, are gone forever.
“I wish a buck was still silver, and it was back when the
country was strong,
Back before Elvis, and before the
Before the Beatles and yesterday,
when a man could still work, and still would,
is the best of the free life behind us now,
and Are The Good Times Really Over For Good.
Are we rollin' downhill like a snowball headed for hell.
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell.
I wish a Ford or a Chevy, would still last ten years like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And Are The Good Times Really Over For Good.”
[“Are the good times really over for good?” Merle Haggard]
You could do it back then with hard work and natural ability, but I think that it would be next to impossible now. My old man was lucky.
To a large extent, I have been lucky as well. I was such a trouble-maker in my early high school career that I was expelled (whole year) twice. My former Middle School Principal said, and I quote, “Mrs. Dan, your son has a criminal mind and I would not doubt if he were in prison by the time he turns 21.” (William Detrie, if you are reading this from the retired and worthless principal’s home, you can kiss my ass. But, you were right about Danny, Larry and Tom.) Yet, my mom and dad had a vision that school was something I needed. Therefore, they saw to it that I made it through the rougher years. When I did get my head together (briefly last summer), I liked it and bought into the vision. However, I am a bit older and wiser now. At my level, I see it as the hoop that it is, the proverbial brass ring.
In reality, schools can only give a good foundation in the tools of education (reading, mathematics, methodologies, etc). Real education is from self-motivated investigation and experience.
As I look at my two children, I wonder. They will be fine because that have two parents that know what they need and are not fooled by the bullshit. But how many kids don’t? Will Eduland make good on its promise of a better life? I say that they should, or be sued for false advertising.
I look at my five year old son. He is smiling at me with that crazy, “I am really gonna hate that country music when I get older” look on his face. I smile. He will probably never know the joys of southernisms the way that I do. Some of the more crazy ones, I hope he never tries. Me and my kind are a dying breed. Maybe, that’s a good thing.
I think that I’ll get my old surfboard down from the attic and teach him how to surf this summer. It’s a good way to meet girls and it’s safer than George Dickel White Label. Maybe I can get him to start listening to Dick Dale or the Venturas….Bob Marley….Jimmy Buffet, maybe…..?