in Brief 1 – Turn, Turn, Turn (not so brief)

As I put on Pandora I once again had to switch it from the kid’s rock station to one of my presets. This time it was the Byrds a rock group from my days in secondary school and one of my favorites. The first song up was Turn Turn Turn.

What I had in mind this morning for my fingers was a major opus on the state of Black America…..yeah, yeah, yeah (Beatles on this triplet) Not another one. Its got several titles lining up in my head. Always an Octoroon or maybe An Octoroon’s Octoroon or how about the Octoroon in all of us? It will probably drive my Buddy nuts. I’m sure its prompted in part by my latest history book on the Presidents and of course, my belated entry into the world of white goody two shoes looking out for downtrodden African Americans. Whether I get to it or not today it will be making an appearance. A hint. If your spell check is anything like mine the word shows up with an absolutely wrong headed recommendation. In this checker’s case “Toronto.” Not even close although a lot of Octoroon ancesters might very well have fled to Toronto before the Civil War.

I’ve struggled before to find the right way to jot down lots of miscellaneous thoughts before. A single post with a string of disconnected thoughts is one way. The problem with is that longish posts probably scare away readers in a hurry even if they have subtitles. Today I’ll make the separate thoughts individual posts. I’m already guessing I’ll give up the ghost long before I’m prepared to handle octoroons.

As for three good turns. I’ve written about that song before. The only mention I found was at the beginning of 2014. It was a hopeful thank you from my campaign supporters. Reading it again it appears that its hopefullness has been sabotaged by the reality of my first ten months on the School Board. I thought I had written about the song one other time but I could not tease it out of Lincolndemocrat’s search engine. So, I’ll sacrifice a lot of other thoughts to recall it now. For those readers who find reminiscences tiresome stop here.

The Book of Ecclesiastes

I’ve written before about my clumsy move to Minnesota after grade school before. Here’s the example that comes to mind. For the next three tough junior high school years I couldn’t help but look back nostalgically to Topeka, Kansas. My family would, of course, travel back to the old home town to visit relatives a couple times a year. My Mother would take turns with her older Sister every month to visit her Father, George Robb, who had moved to a nursing home called the “Presbyterian Manner.” (I was about to link to my web writings about Grandfather but, by golly, Wikipedia has it covered in a thumbnail sketch. I even learned something new about him. At the time he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor only 44 recipients of the award from WW I.) Her many long conversations with my Grandfather often ended up in my ear and could be the basis of a family history on my part if I ever get myself organized.

As for me I’d get back reliably once a year each summer almost always in conjunction with the begining of a family summer vacation. We’d stop off to see the family before traveling the 49 states in our own low budget camping campaign. I’d be very interested in seeing my old neighbors, particularly Becky Penney. I had been in awe of Becky through elementary school. She was a hair younger than me which gave me one flimsy bit of bragging rights. On the other hand she was a great athlete. She taught me to play catch. She was also a stellar academic at least to the extent that an elementary student can be one……..think straight A’s. JUST A MOMENT…..


As I endured the slings and arrows of being a funny talking “reb” in Southern Minnesota Becky went on accumulating honors including becoming one of the most popular kids at the junior high I would have attended. I’d made a point of not attending a single junior high dance my seventh grade year much to my Dad’s consternation. That’s another story. Well, dancing had not been a problem for Becky or her older sister. I still remember the “Day the Music Died.” Cindy Penney was in tears. It wasn’t until after college and the movie the Buddy Holley Story that I discovered what the lyrics of American Pie were all about.

So, in my first return to Topeka I got invited to attend a party that Becky had been invited to. I agreed to go feeling like a fifth wheel immediately upon meeting the Boswell swells in the basement of some tony home with a dozen beautiful kids I didn’t know paired up and dancing together. These weren’t kids I knew from elementary school. They were from one of the better off neighborhoods surrounding Boswell Junior High and a different elementary school that, I would guess, didn’t have nearly as many black kids enroll in it as my old Loman Hill Elementary once the Supreme Court ruling fully took effect. It was still the Era of De Facto integration not De Jure integration. (I’m playing with the real Latin. In other words black kids in my elementary years could attend the nearest formerly white school which meant Loman Hill. There was no busing beyond its borders to a new and pristine white neighborhood)

Ah but I digress. I sat for about twenty minutes watching posh kids I did not know dancing with each other an activity I in any case did not have the temerity or inclination to investigate myself. I found Becky and said I thought I should be leaving. I can’t recall whether I used feeling ill as an excuse although “ill at ease” would have been honest. She protested but not very hard and I escaped back to uncool dignity. Here clearly was one more reason to be in awe of Becky Penny.

As I progressed through junior high I discovered that despite my joining a loose set of nerds who claimed to belong to the the “I hate the Beatles Club” I liked the group’s music. That happened suddenly in eighth grade homeroom when Patty Thompson brought the Rubber Soul album to play with our teacher’s permission. That’s another story.

I mercifully got to high school and its broader horizons with new kids who no longer seemed aware of my Kansas accent. After my junior or senior year I once again found myself in Topeka at the start of our family’s travels. I was no longer quite as nerdy but only an old memory from Becky Penny’s grade school days. She was, still, awe inspiring to me. She had just been elected President of her high school class. So was the son of one of my parent’s best friends the Millers. His father had been my dentist. That involves another story, one I embedded in this old post.

Somehow my family ended up introducing these two class presidents from different Topeka High Schools together. I was delighted to have played a part but of course I was old history to them while they were intensely interested in each other at our innocent little threesome. I had liked the song by the Byrd’s Turn Turn Turn. I, however, had not bothered to plumb its provenance. When they began talking about it they both spoke glowingly about its lyrics springing from the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes. I’d never even heard of the book due to insufficient Sunday Schooling. I was simply pleased to be basking in the glow of these two stunning kid’s introduction.

Subsequently I heard that Brian had greatly disappointed all the girl’s at his high school by passing on inviting any of them to the Homecoming Dance. Instead he had invited Becky, the President of her class at Topeka High. It was their Presidential Ball. Turn, turn, turn.

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