University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

 
 
 
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(Tenured Radical)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Snapshots from Home

'FIFTY YEARS OF
WALTER JOHNSON
HIGH SCHOOL:
1958 - 2007'


UD thinks she graduated from this place in 1971, but of course she's not sure. Dates are numbers, and she's weak on numbers.

There's also the business of wanting to soft-pedal, psychologically speaking, precisely how many years have passed since UD was part of Walter Johnson's hippie cohort.

It's certainly been a spell: The new auditorium we're celebrating tonight is named after a long-dead worthy who seems to have been the principal when UD attended.

UD's here because her kid (currently a WJ student) is performing in tonight's nostalgia-fest. UD hates nostalgia. She dreads schoolmate hugs. She dreads tearing up as her trembly Rapid Learner English teacher is wheeled out onto the stage.

It's not that such things fail to move UD. The problem is that they move her all too easily. Like a lot of smart-asses, UD is, under the surface, a huge crybaby. Put her in any sentimental setting and she will wail and gnash and rend her garments.




Okay, I'm now in the spiffy auditorium. A tiger and a bull mascot cavort among the crowd, whipping up school spirit. They're pretty amusing. They've taken to their ridiculous task with a load of irony.

Now two identical screens appear on opposite walls of the room, both showing a tiger face and a Spartan warrior. If you think I have any idea what the symbolic value of these symbols is, think again.

The school's current principal descends, Peter Pan-style, to the stage; when he's finished talking, he flies back up. He's showing off some of the auditorium's new technology.

Next there's a video montage, with thundering rock music, of the decades of fun fun fun at Walter Johnson. Famous alumni (Nils Lofgren, frinstance) are featured. I search the screen in vain for another notable, Sonny Bono's second ex-wife.

Nothing much is stirring in UD, I'm afraid, although the many shots of fields full of cows do bring back memories of her days, when the area adjacent to the school - now endless corporate headquarters - was a farm.