School Daze

This being the first month of the new school year got me thinking about when I first went to school, in kindergarten. Binghamton in those days had a very unusual system whereby school started not only in September but in February as well. I’ve never met anyone outside of the Binghamton area who is familiar with this system.
In September, kids born in April through November started in the “B” section. Then in February, they would pass into the “A” section.
Those born in December through March would have our “B” section in February, and outr “A” section in September. So, when I started that February of 1958, (my birthday’s in March,) I was in Kindergarten B, then in September in Kindergarten A, then 1B, 1A, 2B, 2A, and so on.
My kindergarten teacher was Miss Cady for the whole year. But the summer after 1B, that teacher left, so I had a different teacher in 1A. Likewise in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. I know my 4B teacher had gotten pregnant, because she “showed”, but one really didn’t talk about such things in those days. It wasn’t until fifth grade that I had a teacher for a whole year again. Conversely, my sister Leslie, who started in one September had the same teachers all year for every grade, except 6th and that only because her teacher died during the year.
Of course, we’re all impacted bt the seemingly random people we come in contact with. My sisters and I were supposed to attend Oak Street Elementary School. However, my mother “worked outside the home”, as we now put it, at McLean’s department store downtown. Where would we go at lunchtime? There was no school lunch, no cafeteria, nor anyone to watch us there. My grandmother Gert Williams and great-aunt Deana Yates lived about six blocks away from us, so it was determined that we would go to Daniel S. Dickinson School instead, and go to Gram’s for lunch (and also after school when we were younger).
Dickinson wasn’t any further from our house than Oak Street School (this was a walking district at the time-no school buses), so this turned out to be a workable solution.
Since I started in February, our classes, chosen from a smaller pool, had fewer students. And while some people came and went, or FAILED, there was a core group that I knew straight on through. In sixth grade, there were nine of us (out of 16) who started kindergarten together: Bill, Carol, David (born in December), Lois, Irene, and Bernie (born in February), Karen and me (March), and Diane, born in April, but whose parents finagled her way to our class. Eight of us (except David, who stayed an extra semester to play basketball) all graduated from high school together. Considering that I haven’t seen dsome of those people since high school, and others since 1981, I’m amazed how engrained that information is. I’m in some contact with a couple of them, but none more so than my friend Karen, who I spoke with last month. We have a 47-year old friendship.

There are lots of stories that I think I’ll tell over the next several months, being the only black kid in my class for 8 of 10 years there, the neighborhood, other stuff.

I’ll close with the school song (from failing memory):

Hail, Daniel Dickinson
Pride of our fair Binghamton
May we ‘ere our praises sing
With loyal hearts and true
May all our words and deeds
‘ere uphold thy glory
Guide us our whole lives through
Hail, Daniel Dickinson.

KS 2

The Rolling Stones came to town. They were, by all accounts, very good. the story appeared on the front page of a couple of our local newspapers. Some people complain that it was not worthy, with all of the “serious” issues out there. As Prince once said, “Shut up already!
WEEKEND JOURNAL; Collecting: Bang! Pow! Cash!; As Comic Prices Soar, Disputes Flare; Avoiding the Purple Label of Death
Conor Dougherty. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Sep 23, 2005. pg. W.1

This story is better than the title. Anyone wanting a copy e-mailed to them, please let me know.
M.Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, died, according to one source. Can someone verify?

Kitchen Sink Blogging

No, this has nothing to do with Denis Kitchen, comic publisher extraordinaire, though I thought he was a swell guy when I met him back in 1988. No, this is all sorts of stuff I meant to write about but somehow didn’t, plus some recent stuff. And as some pop singer once sang: “It’s Now or Never.”


In case you missed it, Brian Wilson, a musician of some note, will CALL you if you make a $100 contribution through his website on behalf of Katrina victims by October 1. You will need a PayPal account. The instructions e-mail I received will be in the comments section of this post at 11 a.m. EDT.

In addition to the Mixed CDs that I’ve been reviewing for my CONTEST, I’ve been listening to Emmylou Harris’ greatest “hits” (she’s a great artist, but a “hitmaker”, not so much), two versions of the Who Sell Out- one by Petra Hagen and the other by the original artists, American Idiot by Green Day (they’re green- they just have to be good), and a compilation of Beck songs put together for me by an arithmetic function. It’s all good.


FREE COMICS! Just go here. OK, they are comics called Kaptain Kelmoore, and they are about financial investment. You can also order by calling toll-free (877) 535-6667.

Mark Evanier became the self-appointed Blondie crossover guru for the strip’s 75th anniversary. But he’s relinquished the throne. I’m not taking it, but need to note Pearls Before Swine last Tuesday through Saturday. (Yahoo! link will disappear in about a week.)

The Fantastic Four video game by Activision, for Xbox, PS 2, GCube and PC got 1 star from the local newspaper reviewer: “Dull. Looks poor. Moderately challenging.” But the Sue Storm is very Jessica Albaesque, FWIW.

In the comics section of our local newspaper, they’ve started posting a puzzle called sudoku, a grid of 81 boxes, 9 by 9, with some numbers already filled in, into which a player insert a number. The goal is to fill every empty box so that each vertical row, each horizontal row, and each 3 by 3 box contain all of the digits 1 to 9, with no repeats. I’ve tried it, haven’t mastered it, but you may enjoy it.


How to fund the Katrina clean up? How about eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? It appears that the plan of some Republicans in Congress.

Mark Evanier notes the passing yesterday of Don Adams, a/k/a Agent 86 of Get Smart fame. The show ran from 1965-1970. It was one of the first shows that I remembered that changed networks during its run, 4 years on Saturday nights on NBC, and the last season on Fridays on CBS. (I don’t count the seven episodes that appeared on FOX in 1995.) Of course, Don Adams was more than Maxwell Smart; he was also the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, one of my favorite cartoons on one of my favorite cartoon shows, Underdog. I watched both shows fairly religiously, even when Get Smart went from silly to not so good (Max and 99’s wedding, the twins). I BELIEVE that I should thank him for the entertainment.

There are days when I have nothing to watch. Then there are days when I have a logjam. Tonight at 9 p.m., I have a real logistical issue. I am going to record both The Office/My Name is Earl on NBC, and the second half of the Scorcese thing on Dylan on PBS. Meanwhile, I have this 7-inch TV that I bought as part of the YMCA’s Reach Out for Youth campaign lasat year, and I’ll watch the premiere of Commander in Chief on ABC on that. Oh, and re: The Office, Steve Carrell is the first host of SNL next month.

O.K., it was probably a terible show, but how can they cancel Head Cases, starring Chris (boy wonder) O’Donnell after only two episodes? I never got a chance to hate it.

60 Minutes changed their opening. It now starts with Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft and Lesley Stahl and ends with Mike Wallace introducing Andy Rooney. Apparently, the other positions will rotate among Morley Safer and Dan Rather (who were on this week), Bob Simon, Scott Pelley and others. And speaking of Rooney, at least three paragraphs of his weekly newspaper column was cribbed on Sunday night’s piece about Peter Jennings’ memorial service, which he attended last week, including the one that suggested that broadcast news would have been obliterated if a terror attack had hit Carnegie Hall that day. The print story indicated that his daughter was fired by Jennings, but the TV story did not. Another Jennings story.

I had planned to write an extensive piece on the Emmys, but that was complicated by the fact that I didn’t get around to actually WATCHING the Emmys until a couple days ago. And others have opined sufficiently. So my only comments:

  • Because I am a newsie, I was really touched by the tribute to the former network anchors, Brokaw, Rather, and the late Jennings
  • Having watched Law & Order enough times, I found it wonderfully funny that the usually unflappable Lt. Van Buren is played by the very flappable S. Epatha Merkerson
  • I HATED the silly Emmy Idols bit, but would have voted for Shatner and the mezzo over the horrific Trump
  • Ellen DeGeneres was wasted in those silly skits
  • Desparate Housewives is TOO a comedy, despite what Tom the Dog says. Or at least a dramedy, like Ally McBeal. Especially because the people submitting the show to the Emmy Academy SAY it is. I suspect it was a ploy to avoid competing against Lost. I can almost guarantee that it won’t lose to Raymond again NEXT year.

    I tried to watch Arrested Development once last year, didn’t “get” it, let it go. But after that pathetic plea during the Emmys by the A.D. writer for people to watch, I did, and I liked it. I tuned in yesterday and enjoyed it, but felt as though I had somehow missed an episode. Whot hoppened?


    Yankees/Red Sox tied with seven games left, three at the end of the season in Fenway Park. Just the way it ought to be. Yanks won last night, Sox rained out.

    My pick for the AL wild card: Chicago White Sox will slip behind Cleveland this week. Or the White Sox might not make the post season at all.

    In the AL West, it looks like the Angels, and in the NL West, who cares? It could be a team with a losing record.

    They don’t know what they’re talking about, but read Johnny Bacardi’s and Greg Burgas’ fearless football predictions anyway, because they’re entertaining and good guys (Burgas is MOST of the time.)

  • The Lydster Part 18: Freedom

    One of the joys of parenthood is that the child becomes more self-sufficient. One of the last times Carol & I went to the movies, we expected to get back around 9:15, about a half hour before her bedtime at that point, and figured we needed to do the evening ritual. Instead, Lydia pointed to the stairs and essentially put herself to bed! I mean, she needed to be carried into the crib, but she initiated the activity. Moreover, she slept all night. She doesn’t do this not for US, of course, but she’s aware enough to handle bedtime.

    Aware: that would describe her. Carol changes something in the house, such as the location of a picture or a floor fan, and she’ll point at it, as though it were out of place. In fact, to be honest, she’s more likely to notice than I.

    Orderly: she was making a Play-Dough-like product. The teachers expected that she’d pour in the ingredients from the edge of the bowl, but she insisted on pouring the substance into the middle of the bowl, to avoid spilling.

    Of course, this does not apply to her eating, when we wish we had hired a dog for after-meal clean-up.

    Now that I take Lydia to day care, that’s become “our” time. I walk her to the bus stop, which is only a couple houses away. We ride on the bus, with me usually feeding her a banana. She manages to devour it in a 10-minute ride. Then we walk to the center. He even lets me hold her hand, something she used to actively avoid (and something, I’m told, she’ll actively avoid in the future.)

    Meanwhile, happy year and a half, Lydia. I love you.

    Wash Your Hands

    You may recall a survey conducted in 1996 indicating that 1/3 of us don’t wash our hands after going to the bathroom. Well, they’ve replicated the survey this year and researchers have discovered that the “dirty hands” crew is down to 1/6; interestingly, 1/4 of the men decline, while only 1/10 of the women.

    This is creepy for a couple of reasons:
    1) Hidden cameras in bathrooms (I wonder what ELSE they discovered, inadvertently?)
    2) All of those dirty hands shaking other hands, touching doors

    The Centers for Disease Control actually has recommendations for HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS. Among them: wash your hands for 20 seconds. 20 seconds is probably longer than you think. 20 seconds is singing the Alphabet
    Song through, or singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice through without rushing it.

    Singing aloud is not required, and if you sing poorly, is actually discouraged. In truth, the CDC takes no position on singing in the bathroom. Of course singing in a public bathroom may bring its own set of interesting responses. Thing is, singing in public bathrooms is fun because the acoustics are so good. At least that’s what I’ve heard.