About My American Saga
I’ve always been fascinated with history. It was one of my favorite subjects in school. I always chose the yellow game piece in Trivial Pursuit and l Ianded on the history question as often as I could. Oh, in case you haven’t played, yellow was the color for history questions in the original game.
In 7th grade US History we had a grading system that would be banned today. It was my first “lecture” style class and involved lots of note taking and fairly frequent tests. Our seating chart changed when test scores were passed out. The person with the highest score in the class sat in the chair on the front row by the door and subsequent scores came later. So right off the bat our privacy rights were violated. In addition, there was an element of ridicule or bullying involved. The classroom was actually four side-by-side classrooms with folding doors between them. The doors were opened to connect all the rooms and each class section was named: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. And to top that off, each seat in the class was named and the only “man” in the classroom was the one with top score.
After the first couple of tests the kids that ended up in the back section were petitioned off with their own teacher and in spite of admonitions from the teachers they were known as the dumb kids. I mean, after all, they were dumber than a rock. I felt bad for them because they could never move to the front of the class.
While the system would not be allowed today, I thrived in it. I only sat in the coveted (to me) “man” seat once or twice, but I was always in the front section of the class, and usually in the first row. Once, as the year wore on, a “friend” gave me a hard time for always being in the front. She was usually a mineral and she got to me. For an instant I wondered if I’d have more friends if I didn’t always sit so close to the front. I blew a test and ended up a vegetable. I was horrified and couldn’t wait until the next test to become an animal again.
As a disclaimer, history was by far my best subject and I was not a straight A student. I don’t think the same system would have worked in algebra. I was the one dumber than a rock in algebra, but I thrived in history.
I learned about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims in grade school each Thanksgiving. But in seventh grade I learned in 1624 the Dutch West India Trading Company settled Manhattan and established New Amsterdam (later New York) for the Netherlands. Just a few years ago I found out it was MY family that did that. How cool is that? I wonder if other kids might have liked history more if they knew their family had a hand in making it. Just learning that hooked me on searching my family tree, but finding connections in almost every colony prior to the Revolution has really stoked the fires. How American is that?
I’ve also been interested in the human element of history. What happened when a mother died in childbirth, or a father was killed leaving a family of young children. What happened when soldiers died in war or were taken prisoner? Did we fight for the north or the south in the Civil war? We we rich or poor? Did we own slaves?
Turns out the answer is all of the above. And it’s been a fascinating from all the places we started to get to me here in Norman, Oklahoma. We’re all a LOT more connected than I could ever imagine and we can all benefit from understanding how much alike we are instead of how different.
If it turns out you’re connected to my family in a way I haven’t discovered yet, let me know. I’m always excited to meet a new cousin!