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April 7, 2018

Growing up in Louisa – Bascomb Boyd!  

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

If school kids are a type of people, or are at least people in the making, it is understandable that they are likely to form life-long opinions about each other and those adults with which they had daily contact. Thinking back, I think that foremost in many people’s memories are the teachers that they studied under over their student careers. This isn’t unique to any particular generation because I remember teachers from every grade. In this article, I will focus on what I know or have been told about the time when I was in school. A truth that will universally apply is that teachers matter and tend to influence the lives of their young charges.

This article will address a teacher whose reputation is almost bigger than life. I caution readers to keep in mind that he, like everyone else, was human. I’m sure he had his failings and issues, but my intent isn’t to expose, but rather to celebrate what was apparently a job well done. No other teacher I know approaches the reputation and influence as that of Mr. Bascomb Boyd. Even today, some shutter at the memories that his name evokes. There are those who smile with warm memories of that kind, caring man, while others freeze and groan remembering the fear of earning his displeasure.

Mr. Boyd was a large fellow, over six feet tall and a bit hefty, too. I remember seeing him in the hallways wearing a three-piece suit, complete with a pocket-watch and fob attached to his vest. In my Louisa High Louisa High time he had thinning white hair, but I have seen pictures of the man with dark hair and protruding eyes. Whether the duty was assigned or assumed, he was the guardian and time-keeper at the front door to the old LHS ‘Kentucky Normal’ school building. He stood at his post just outside of his classroom to warn students ‘not to run in the hallways,’ or to ‘hurry along and not be late.’ Finally, at the correct time based upon the pocket watch, he would push the button to ring the five-minute warning bell, and then the tardy bell. At that sound all the doors on campus would shut and classes would begin. Those poor students arriving late would easily be seen when they opened the shut door to enter their classroom. I have no experience to say that someone late to Mr. Boyd’s class suffered any more than those in other classes, but I suspect that a look from this man was like the wrath of God.

Even when I was a young seventh-grader, I learned through campus scuttlebutt that he was a ‘no-nonsense’ fellow who demanded the undivided attention of all his students. At the beginning of school, some signed up for his classes believing he was the better of three mathematics teachers on the Board of Education payroll, but some unlucky kids were assigned to his class when the other classes filled. For a few, it could be perceived as a doomsday assignment. In fairness to Mr. Boyd, his subjects, algebra and geometry, were a serious challenge for people whom were still struggling with multiplication tables. As in anything, some students did well, but there were also some that had to just try to hang on to earn the necessary credits required for graduation.

Bascomb Boyd award FHABascomb Boyd award FHA

 

My classmate from the class of 1960, Betty Meade Cooke, tells me that she was scared to death of him. She discovered a key aspect of the man that I have heard over and over. Betty needed to find a way to make a good grade in that class, so she took a chance that was a risk. She had her initial problems like all of us with understanding the subject, but when she approached Mr. Boyd in study hall, he was more than pleased to help her understand the subject. He worked with her over the years to bring her performance to ‘A-level.’ As others, she found that showing interest and asking for help paid big dividends. This would be a life lesson we might all apply even now.

Mr. Boyd was really interested in students learning in his classes of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Many did so, even if it involved much study and suffering. Many went on to become successful in their college careers and several professions, including engineering. Students who asked for help, or who excelled, became favorites and were used as examples to others to apply themselves. Risking being called a ‘favorite’ student or a ‘teacher’s pet,’ some tried to avoid that by seeking outside help. I don’t think he liked his reputation as a tough teacher, and may have even been hurt that someone feared him. He was perhaps a ‘tender lion’ who really cared for his students.    

I know that he was held in the highest esteem by the faculty, staff, and the student-body. I don’t know if he had a sense of humor since I picture him as a serious man bent on discipline in study. I spoke with him many times, but never had his classes. I always found him to be friendly. One thing I have learned over the years is that all of us are merely people that have our weaknesses. Frankly, in those days I had no thoughts this man had any. Like several teachers of the day, Mr. Bascomb Boyd was very much in charge with a sobering presence. After a time of knowing him you found that he didn’t have to speak. A look was enough. The message meant was understood by all.

My friend Bernard Nelson tells me he lived down on Sycamore Street near Andy York’s grocery store. He was a neighbor to Harold “Squeak” Frazier, a classmate Ruth Ann Jordan, and Jesse Thompson, with her parents, teachers J. Walter and Anna ThompsonWhen Bascomb passed I’m told that he left his estate to Harold. Nelson considered him a friend when he took algebra in the ninth grade. Mr. Boyd always made himself available to help once Nelson, or any student showed interest. Mr. Boyd wrote to Nelson when the young fellow had graduated and was off in basic training. This agrees with the comments of several others, like Delbert Caudill, but is in sharp contrast with the fear and trepidation that others feel when recalling those years. Delbert once wrote me that Mr. Boyd was ‘the most hated and at the same time the most beloved teacher at school.’ It was said that he had memorized the text books and could quote theorems by page number. I guess it’s intimidating to face someone with that level of learning.

In the past when I’ve mentioned his name in this column I have received many responses, most painting him as scary, but fair, and every bit worthy of his reputation as a giant of a teacher. No one who had any of his classes has forgotten him. He continues to loom big in our memories. All I need to say is “Bascomb” or Mr. Boyd and the stories begin to flow.

Reputations aside, to many he was bigger than life. I think the fear factor was there, but I also suspect he would have been disappointed that he discouraged any of his students. I wanted them to be excited with the subject-matter and to see him as a good teacher. He accomplished that with many and is recalled as a committed educator trying to make a difference. He did make a difference in so many lives as proven by the success of his students. Maybe you were one of those.    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

April 4, 2018

Kentuckians, what’s on your bucket list?

by Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin Melissa Martin

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularized the Bucket List expression in their 2007 film. Two terminally ill men rush off on a spontaneous road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they kick the bucket (die).


Nowadays, a bucket list refers to a list of things you would like to do someday.

Your list does not have to include colossal feats like hiking the Appalachian Trail, swimming across the Ohio River, or finding Bigfoot. These are not on my list. Never were. Never will be.

You can start with the smaller things you want to do; like reading a best-selling novel or slicing, dicing, and spicing vegetables to make homemade salsa for family, friends, and coworkers, or having a first-time pedicure.

I have a hankering to paint encouraging words on rocks and place them around Scioto County. The Kindness Rocks Project started it all and others put their own spin on it. Why is painting and hiding and finding rocks so trendy? Creativity is a form of self-expression and the process promotes feel-good emotions as you enter the cheerful zone. And the world could use more kindness.

The Facebook groups in Kentucky are sharing kindness: Bluegrass Rock Painters, #LouisvilleRocks, #OldhamCountyRocks, Elizabethtown Rocks, HarrisonCoRocks, #BowlingGreenKyRocks, #502Rocks! How does it work? Paint a rock and hide it. If you find a rock, snap a photo, post it on the Facebook page and then re-hide the rock. KentuckyLiving.com featured a story called ‘Rocks of Art.’

Knitting and juggling did not work for me, but maybe I’ll try to learn how to play Chess. The brain responds to novelty; learning brand new things improve memory. And keeps the brain healthy.

One could write a couple of traveling goals like a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. or the Galapagos Islands. Or find a friend with a boat and cruise up and down the Ohio River. Watch out for the bucket list swimmers.

I’m considering visits to libraries in Appalachian counties. That may sound boring to you, but not to me. I’m rather fond of libraries!

After retirement, I’ll head out on a bus tour with the other oldsters to the Mall of America in Minnesota. What are the best vacation spots for retirees? Iceland, too cold. Sahara Desert, too dry. Maybe Belize, but no bikini in my bag. Participating in old lady yoga on the beach might be fun.

I’ll skip the annual La Tomatina Festival in Spain. Being pelted with tomatoes is not my idea of adventure. No running with the bulls either.

Carter and Edward (played by Jack and Morgan) go skydiving, fly over the North Pole, ride motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, attend a lion safari, and climb the Great Pyramid, among other activities. And like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, they realize there’s no place like home. Carter dies of cancer and Edward delivers his eulogy at the funeral. Edward reconciles with his daughter and granddaughter. Their bucket list adventure ends.

Grab a pen and paper and write your own bucket list.

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Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.

 

March 31, 2018

Growing up in Louisa – Easter!   

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

As a child this special weekend used to be all about kids getting new ‘Easter’ clothes, getting chocolate Easter bunnies (loved to bite off the ears!), a basket full of Easter eggs, cellophane grass, and lots of jelly beans. It was a time that most families would go to church and thereby swell the ranks of parishioners by twice again the normal crowd. Special music would be presented by the choir and the preacher’s sermon was sure to tell about Christ’s resurrection. There would be with hymns of praise in thankfulness for the salvation obtained for us by Jesus’s death on the cross.

 I’ve seen it snow on Easter and I’ve seen it when it was warm. I know that some churches band together to hold a consolidated sunrise service, often on the banks of a river, lake or sea. This allows for us to watch the sun break above the horizon. We could feel the light and warmth of the rising sun even on the chilly mornings. With our faces lit, we hugged and prepared to make this the best Easter ever. This practice is based upon the Gospel narrative that tells us it was early in that first Easter morning when they found the tomb was empty. He had risen! Indeed, Christ is risen! Churches have long celebrated with a ‘sun (son) rise’ service. Today, I’m afraid that many of us have rolled over in bed knowing full well it was time for our feet to hit the floor. With a little encouragement we finally stir and join the new day. After all, getting up early once a year isn’t all that hard. Most of the time we joined the choirs in their singing and listened to the preachers retell the story. Once the service has ended and the sun was clearly up, we rushed home to get into our Easter best for the main service later in the day.

Easter is also a time of visits with extended family members coming in from out of town. Surely the social notices in the little weekly paper would be full of people visiting families and friends. Kids would be home from college and would see their cousins, or their friends after a long winter’s absence. Of course, along with many kinds of political correctness, the Easter break has become ‘Spring Break.’ Along with that ‘off-topic’ approach came the headaches of parents trying to keep kids in the family celebrations and away from Florida’s beaches. That struggle continues to the point that expectations are that college kids (and some high schoolers) would rather party in the tropics rather than join in the religious celebrations on Easter Sunday morning. We have thrown God out of our schools and turned to hedonistic wanderings, yet we wonder why evil is so prevalent and why mankind has seems to have gone wild.

Easter also means it is time for daffodils and jonquils to bloom. The flower shop are busy suppling the churches and finer homes about town with Easter lilies, perhaps even a tulip or two. Flowers adorn the new dress or suit. Pear trees will have some blossoms but other fruit trees like the pink cherry trees are just starting to turn. Yellow forsythia also blooms. Everything smacks of spring. If we kids were lucky it would be warm enough that day to play outside. We’d waited a long time to break out our ball mitts, or to ride our bikes. Like the preacher points out, Easter is about ‘new life.’

 Little girls would be out in their new pastel dresses. Some would dress up their dolls and push the baby strollers up and down the sidewalks. I remember their cute white socks that they wore that had lace or little flowers sewn around the top edge. Their black patent leather shoes, or in some cases, white patent leather shoes, would reflect a shine that no ‘shine-boy’ could ever deliver. (Try to find a shoeshine these days) There would be ribbons for her hair and a flower corsage to pin on the front of the Easter dress. I remember a few little flowery Easter hats, too! It was also fashionable in those days that the girls wear short white gloves, while the ladies wore them up to, or beyond the elbows.

Another memory includes special music, whether hymns or popular songs. You’ll remember the one worded, ‘In your Easter Bonnet, with all the frills upon it…’ That one sang out on the radios telling us all about the Easter Parade on New York’s 5th Avenue. While New York living wasn’t part of our culture the music was. Another song was ‘Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, hopping down the bunny trail.’ Of course, the Easter Parade song was out of a popular movie of the day. I doubt I saw it on its first run, but at some point, I enjoyed the musical right there in the Garden Theater, maybe on an early spring day with some of you.

In church we’d sing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Alleluia,” “Because He Lives,” “He Lives,” and “Christ Arose.” This holiday was second only to Christmas and was a grand time of celebration and augmented by the unusual crowds that showed up at church. There were a few churches that had Easter cantatas or song-fests. The Halleluiah Chorus from the “Messiah” rang out as the congregation rose to join in the singing. Whether in a small country church or a large, towered cathedral, the world that I knew in those days paused to remember the resurrection. In that lies the hope of mankind.      

 An annual occurrence at church, and often again at home, was the big Easter egg hunt. Some years that would mean that the adults would hide the eggs we’d carefully decorated all around the yard. There were years that they were hidden indoors because of mean weather conditions, but we hunted them nonetheless. Some were well hidden enough they wouldn’t be found for days, or weeks. Yuck! Because we were mostly older kids during these times we all hunted at the same time. I remember times when only the younger kids could hunt. Later, the older kids would take the eggs and hide them again for the younger ones. There may have been several cycles of hiding and finding.

I remember the days just prior to Easter when mom had me in the kitchen with the other kids and we’d decorate the eggs. She had already hard-boiled them, so we only had to carefully dip them into the little bowls of different colors that she had concocted. I remember that she used a vinegar base with food coloring, or a kit with tablets of different colors. The kit had a little wire holder that allowed one to dip the eggs into the color without them slipping and falling in. It also kept little fingers out of the mix. I found it fun to experiment with the color selections to get a variety of different results. The kit also had a wax pencil that allowed us to write our names on the eggs prior to dipping them. The color would cover the whole eggs except for the written names. It was basic, but to me it seemed like magic.   

Even with all the excitement, somehow that day also seemed to be a day of peace. We had the big family dinner with all the guests, talking and laughing. I especially enjoyed the desserts and listening to the adults swap stories. Afterward, we found ourselves with heavy eye-lids as we settled on the living room furniture. For some, it was nap time. A few of the adults went out for a spell to visit other friends and relatives. Some settled in their bedrooms, but I just sank deeply into the couch in the front room. Along the way, between church and naptime, we boys lost our neckties, or bow ties, and kicked off our shoes. It was time to just settle back and enjoy feeling good.

Suddenly, there was a commotion! The ladies of the house came up with a brainstorm! Out came the Brownie cameras and back on went the Easter outfits. We were busy crowding around to take pictures of everyone. We sat up in groups, singles, and every way that came to mind. Those snapshots would be developed and shared around, destined to fill the latest album. I have copies of one or two of those that I still look at when I’m feeling nostalgic. I’ve scanned most of those now, so I can pull them out easily from my computer. Man, has that ever changed.

When I do look back, I think that those faces of our youth are haunting. I can see the innocence of youth and the lack of worry or concern, but albums will also show that this would change over time. We were bound to find challenges nearly every day of our lives. It might have been a tough school lesson, making a team, getting a date, going off to school or the military, getting married, having kids, and seeing them marry, too.

 Even as this cycle goes on much remains the same. My family still does Easter egg hunts, goes to church, visits with our grown children and their families, have a big meal, and maybe again wish for that nap. Even though there is a much more important reason for Easter, freely provided for us by the grace of God, we also still cherish those wonderful times with friends and family and those Easter traditions we continue to share together.

Hmmm, now, who took my chocolate bunny?

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