Life was tough and unpredictable for a wee lad growing up in the sleepy hamlet of my boyhood. One day supermarket shelves overflowed with boxes of Sir Grapefellow cereal and the next all that remained was the vastly inferior breakfast nemesis, Baron Von RedBerry. During fourth grade I caused quite a stir at school when I realized that painting everything black would cause the child-study team to visit and evaluate me on a regular basis. This amused me a great deal more than it did the humorless experts with fancy degrees trying to address my condition.
I was what Maury Povich might call a “latch-key” child. My parents sure loved me (as much as could be expected) and worked tirelessly to support me and my imaginary siblings. However, with the 1970s energy crisis, the cost of gas and cereal caused them both to work long hours; my Dad made custom rubber stamps in the garage while my mother sold frozen meat via home “parties” to housewives starved of cheddar burgers and a social life. Classmates teased me for smelling like a combination of burning rubber and melted cheese.
Unable to protect me from wedgies, Rorschach Tests and a teacher who tied me to a chair with a jumprope, my parents did the best they knew how. In desperation they sent me to live with my Grandpappy Max and my common-law grandmother Noonie in Indiana. Grandpappy owned the largest Pachinko factory in all of Terra Haute. Each day I would rush home after detention and across Highway 41 to wait patiently for Max to finish the second shift at the Pachinko plant. I loved it there. The guys who worked for my grandparents were great storytellers. I learned all sorts of life lessons about menthol, dating during the Korean War, stagflation and so much more.
Some days I would just sit in the gap between the ball bearings and nail conveyor belts and imagine life in the 21st Century. What sorts of skills would I need? Rubber stamps, meat and Japanese arcade attractions sustained my family, but would they be sufficient for my children?
One recurring dream I had during the carefree days of my youth was, “Will enough members of the Twitterverse nominate me for a coveted Shorty Award?”
Please help me realize a lifelong dream by casting your vote here
Note: This is not my regular feed or URL for my blog, Stager-to-Go. Blogger has had intermittent failures that are driving me crazy.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.