Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wearing Mother's Jewelry

I keep several little reminders of my past on my desk at school. I have three small clay bowls I made in elementary school that at one time or another I presented to my mother for Mother’s Day or her birthday. One of the bowls stayed on a table in our living room for years with a small dried flower arrangement in it. On a picture stand I have a small picture I drew when I was a child that was glued to a piece of ply board and then covered with a clear glaze. I have a mold of my tiny hand made in second grade painted shimmery gold. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Smith, telling us to make sure we had signed our names to the bottom so that they would be true works of art. Today when my students explore my room at the beginning of the year they oogle my relics and ask, “Did you really make this when you were little?” I point to my handprint and proudly tell them, “Yes, and if you don’t believe me look at the name on the bottom.”

In my home I have a coffee table that Mom and Dad had in their very first house. The table is featured in just about every picture taken of my family room growing up. My son has already claimed the table and, he swears he will keep it safe and pass it along when the time comes. Today the “s” in permanent marker is still on one end of the table where I wondered what would happen IF……

I’m sure you don’t need for me to tell you the rest of THAT story.

I have some of my mother’s jewelry. Mostly the pieces are very simple costume-type items, but they are pieces I remember rummaging through her drawer and then trying them on for size. Now I can wear them and no one tells me I can’t, but the joy of wearing Mom’s jewelry is bittersweet because the tradeoff is simply too empty to imagine.

Isn’t that the way with mothers and daughters? When you finally get to wear the “big girl” jewelry you are surprised to find out the one person you want to see you wear it isn’t there to help you enjoy it.

Notice this painting….

The painting is titled The First of May and shows Prince Albert and Queen Victoria holding Prince Arthur who would one day be the Duke of Connaught. Prince Arthur’s godfather, the Duke of Wellington, is presenting him with a jewel-studded gold box.

Notice the tiara Queen Victoria is wearing. It is the same one pictured in this post. It is known as the “King George III Fringe Tiara”. Sometimes it is referred to as the “Fringe Tiara”.

This tiara was actually made as a necklace in 1830 from diamonds once belonging to King George III, the British king during the French and Indian War and American Revolution my students are now exploring. The tiara can be worn as a collar type necklace or once mounted on a thin wire it can be worn as a tiara. It is reported that Queen Victoria first wore the tiara to the opera in 1837, and of course, she wore it as Winterhalter painted the image I posted above. Upon Queen Victoria’s death the tiara was willed to the Crown along with several other pieces of jewelry to be worn by all future Queens.

While I did not find any evidence of Queen Alexandra, Queen Victoria’s daughter-in-law, wearing the tiara I located a photograph from the wedding of the future King George V and Mary of Teck showing the daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Princess Louise, wearing the tiara as a necklace. The photograph can be seen below…..

Notice Queen Alexandra on the right is wearing a similar tiara called the Kokoshnik Tiara. Princess Louise is on the left and around her neck is the same Fringe Tiara. On one website I was able to learn that the tiara had been given to Princess Louise as a wedding gift. I am doubting this. It may have been loaned to her for the occasion since it was included in items Queen Victoria willed to the Crown. Queen Mary would be the next to wear it after Queen Alexandra. Leslie Field’s excellent book, The Queen’s Jewels, traces the line of this tiara very well and does not mention it was given to Princess Louise. While I searched and searched for an image of Queen Mary wearing the tiara the only picture I have ever seen is in Leslie Field’s book.

In 1937, Queen Mary passed the tiara along to her daughter-in-law Queen Elizabeth. Here is a picture of her wearing the tiara.

In 1947, Queen Elizabeth loaned the tiara to her daughter Princess Elizabeth, today’s reigning monarch, to wear as her “something borrowed” at her wedding to Prince Phillip. There is a famous story about how the tiara wire broke as the Princess was dressing for the wedding. The court jeweler was standing by in case of any emergency and immediately took the tiara along with several court policemen to a side room to fix the tiara.

In 1973, Queen Elizabeth was then known as the Queen Mother. She loaned the fringe tiara to her granddaughter, Princess Anne, for her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips.

Every family has items that seem to flow from one generation to another. If we look at family pictures closely enough we can identify items that have stood the test of time.
Royal families are no different.

If you are wondering why I’m re-running prior postings see the article HERE.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Family Trees Don't Exactly Fork...

These days everyone’s family tree is a little confusing due to the increase in divorce, remarriages, and cohabitation. I wouldn’t want to be a genealogist in one hundred years or so trying to decipher family lines. Activities and projects which revolve around the family unit can mean a teacher is treading into dangerous waters.

A few years ago I thought it would be a really great activity to have a group of language arts students interview family members and obtain the recipes for special dishes that family members always want to have at family gatherings. You know, Aunt Mary’s Creamed Corn, Uncle Jim Bob’s spare rib sauce and so on. We were going to take the two or three recipes from each class member and students were going to write out the recipes and illustrate the pages. All of the pages were going to be bound into one booklet, mass produced, and shared with the entire class.

Sounds like an interesting activity right? Our first experience with history is learning our own family history. I was trying to jump start that a bit and get some conversations going at home.

I only had two kids to bring in recipes. Most never brought anything and I had five parents who wrote nasty notes wanting to know why I was prying into their families or informing me they don’t associate with family members.

Needless to say the subject of family can get a little touchy.

Southerners are always getting dumped on regarding our family trees. I’ll admit it…some family trees down here in the nether regions of the country are confusing.
Hell, some family trees don’t even fork.

I have a confession to make. My maternal tree does fork, however, that sucker is inundated with the thickest, largest kudzu vine you ever did see. (If you don’t know what kudzu is click HERE.)

Many days ago I began thinking about Mom’s family. I hopped into bed with pen and paper and began diagramming all of the connections.

Hubby groaned. “Oh no, you’re not going to write about that, are you?”

“Now, now,” I soothed. “It’s not like Granma and Granpa were actually related.”

“Wasn’t your grandmother your grandfather’s wife and aunt at the same time?” Hubby asked.

“Well,……yeah. Technically,” I answered.

“Wasn’t your mother’s father also her grand uncle?”

Gee, I was amazed Hubby remembered all of this. “Yeah,” I answered, but….”

Hubby continued as if he was the District Attorney grilling me on the stand, “Wasn’t your grandmother’s father-in-law also her brother-in-law?”

As my family pride began to sag a bit I said, “Yes, that’s all true, but you’re making it sound like we all have three heads, one eye in the middle of our foreheads, and we’re cross-eyed to boot.”

Hubby raised his hand to shush me, “Wait,” he said, “I’m on a roll.” He peered over at my diagram and examined it for a minute.

Finally he said, “Your great-grandfather was also your great grand uncle.” He lay back on the pillow smiling and all full of himself.

“Hmmmmmm….Is there such a thing?” I countered. “Is there a distinction of grand uncle? But yes, I guess if you want to go that far you could say that my great grandfather was also my great grand uncle.”

I was getting exasperated at this point as I said, “Look, what’s your point? It’s my family tree. I thought I would share this information to introduce the topic of overlapping presidential administrations for a post over at American Presidents.”

“Oh. Well….Never mind then. That might be an interesting way to approach it.”

And it just might be an interesting way to approach the subject, but first see if you can untangle my family’s kudzu vine. I’ve even posted my family connections in green to make it easier for you to see all the twists and turns.

These family connections, as suspect as they may be, are all true. We are not deformed, and no laws have been broken so how about it?

Give my puzzle a whirl…

What makes these family connections completely innocent?

Give up? Well, the answer can be found at the original article from 2006 titled A Conundrum For You.

Check out the comments at the end of the article for the exact answer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Razzle Dazzle and All That Jazz...Again

Lesson Planning 101 teaches that students must be engaged in the lesson for learning to take place. Charlotte Danielson of the Educational Testing Service states students should not simply spend “time on task” but should be actively involved in the curriculum. She calls it “minds-on learning.” In fact many researchers have shown that teachers who are most successful develop activities with students’ basic psychological and intellectual needs in mind (Ames, Alderman & Midgley, and Strong, et. al.).

Those statements sound good to me. I agree with them, however, I often feel as if I am doing a frantic tap dance attempting to keep everyone focused and learning at the same time. Spinning plates is the best way I know how to describe delivering instruction in a classroom that has quite a menu of interruptions from loose teeth, unannounced visitors, and the ever squawking intercom.

From time to time the content I teach actually gives me aide and comfort and makes my tap dancing steps a little less difficult. World War I gives me many opportunties to catch my breath as I am able to present one interesting idea concerning the war after another that successfully engages students. The Georgia standard I’m most concerned during this time is SS5H4(a) which involves German attacks on U.S. shipping during the war in Europe and how it eventually led to our involvement in the war.

After we have discussed the causes of the war (another post for another time) we take a look at the German U-Boats and their attacks on merchant and passenger ships especially the British passenger liner, Lusitania, where several hundred Americans were killed. Students generally take a look at passenger recollections of the event at great websites like Lusitania: Lest We Forget. We debate the question if it was correct for the Germans to fire on the passenger liner and through a power point I've created we take a look at evidence ending in a 2006 underwater expedition that confirmed the Lusitania was carrying munitions.

Then we take a look at camouflage.

I show students an image of camouflage. “What’s this?” I ask.

Hands begin to wave frantically.

Of course most of my students know what I’m showing them. Many hunt with their fathers, even some of the girls. A lively conversation begins. Just like their daddies every young hunter has a story to tell. Other students are just as familiar with the military uses of camouflage.

I tell students military forces across the world haven’t always used camouflage. It wasn’t until the savagery of World War I that it began to be used extensively in many different nations including the United States. I show students images of the British Redcoats and Patriot soldiers during the American Revolution.

Nope, no camouflage there.

Then I show them images of Civil War soldiers wearing the blue and grey and the more colorful Zouves.

Again, we don’t find any camouflage.

The old notion was that bright and bold designs would intimidate an enemy, but even the British threw out that tradition in 1902.

The increased use of technology during World War I---namely the use of aerial photography for surveillance and the extensive use of trench warfare provided for the widespread use of camouflage and the need for a new type of military personnel---the camoufleurs. Their job was to devise camouflage schemes to make it difficult for the enemy to locate and destroy forces and equipment. Many of the camoufleurs were artists and designers during their civilian lives.The French established the first camofleur group in 1915. The British then picked up on the idea calling the camouflage Dazzle. Finally, the U.S. began to use it and referred to it as Razzle Dazzle.

So, as many students often say, just what the heck does Picasso and art have to do with a war?

Picasso said it best when he witnessed camouflaged tanks rolling down the streets of Paris----“It is we that have created that.”

It’s at this point I share a few facts about Cubisim with students. The style of painting is thought to have begun in France around 1907 continuing through at least 1914 and beyond. Pablo Picasso is one of the best known Cubists as seen here with his L’Accordeoniste completed in 1911. Painters like Picasso liked to take objects and break them up and then present them in abstract form.

Picasso was correct. Art and war fused. Camouflage is a type of Cubism.

Many painters that are well recognized today were camoufleurs in the U.S. military----Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Birchfield, and Grant Wood.

Eventually the “school of Dazzle” was created and it was used extensively. Dazzle was camouflage used on naval vessels and it was quite dramatic using bright colors. Students are generally amazed by dazzle pictures. They do seem sort of strange looking. It was impossible to hide a ship out on the open ocean simply because they cannot melt into the background of sea and sky. Cubism helped to break the ship up and made it hard for the U-Boats to determine a ship’s speed and course. Without those two vital pieces of information a direct hit by the U-Boats was very hard to accomplish.

Take a look at the Mahomet, seen here. How many bows could this ship have?

In the beginning camoufleurs gave each ship a different design, however, as the war trudged on they devised specific designs that worked the best and used them over and over. It wasn’t just military ships that bore the Razzle Dazzle designs. Merchant ships and passenger liners become very colorful as well.

There were no color photography at the time, however, a few people have used today’s technology to cover over old dazzle pictures so that we can get an idea of what it might have looked like. A terrific website that covers all aspects of dazzle painting is presented by Roy R. Behrens HERE.

The advent of technology brought on dazzle and since technology is so fluid it effectively ended dazzle painting as well. Once radar began to be used dazzle camouflage was unnecessary. The extensive use of airplanes during warfare after World War I also made Razzle Dazzle obsolete, however, after the Japanese air power was diminished in the Pacific the Americans used some dazzle painting during World War II.

After the war dazzle painting soon began to be seen in civilian life in drawings, paintings, cartoons, clothing, and even painting on vehicles. The Behrens site gives several examples of civilian dazzle painting and goes into detail concerning the British efforts with dazzle painting.

Getting back to student engagement....after students have drawn their own ships and created their own dazzle camouflage designs it is very hard for them to forget the reasons why the United States was dragged into World War I.

Journal References:
Ames, C. (1992) Classrooms: goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261-271.

Alderman, L.H. and Midgley, C. (1998). Motivation and middle school students [Eric Digest]. Champaign, Il., Eric Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. Ed 421 281).

Danielson, Charlotte. (1996). Enhancing professional practice: a framework for teaching. Alexandria, Va., Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Strong, R. , Silver, H.F., and Robinson, A. (1995) What do students want? Educational Leadership, 53(1), pages 8-12.

This post originally posted in July, 2007. You can click through and read the comments left at that time.

I’m reposting certain articles through the month of May… can read about it HERE.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Asking Once More.....Is History Important?

This post first ran in January, 2006 on my seventh day of blogging. I guess I thought it very important to establish early on just why history is so important.


One reason why history is important it that the past has value to our society. Thousands of people throughout history have gone to great lengths to record history through newspapers, diaries, journals, saved letters, family Bibles, and oral traditions. It is believed that Aborigines of Australia actually managed to hang onto their history for 40,000 years by word of mouth.

History is the narrative of mankind. It provides answers as to how people lived as well as provide for us the roots to certain ideas concerning laws, customs, and political ideas. Have you ever wondered where the rude gesture of pointing your middle finger at people you are annoyed at came from? One origin story states it reportedly began at the Battle of Agincourt where the French demanded the surrender of the English longbow men. The French demand was very simple. The bowmen had to surrender immediately or upon capture they would have their middle fingers cut off. This finger was sacred to the men since it was the finger used in firing the longbow. The English response to the French demands was to raise their middle finger and raise their hands high in the air in unison for the French to view. This enraged the French who attacked immediately but were promptly obliterated by the plucky English. Think about their bravery the next time you are tempted to raise that finger.

The age-old adage, “you can’t know where you are going unless you know where you have been” is actually very true. A true scholar of history realizes history does repeat itself. This repetition has importance in society. It teaches the value of certain social changes and governmental policies. Ideas that were presented in the 1960s can be found in the writings of William Godwin in the 1790s. The Ancient Greeks redistributed wealth which was clearly repeated during the Communist regimes. It didn’t work for the Greeks and it certainly did not work for Communist Russia.

Though the Greeks had strange ideas about wealth they were firm believers that history was something that people could learn from. I began my love affair with history as an elementary student who read each and every biography my media center possessed. I was fascinated with the famous people I was learning about since they had a childhood like me and I was intrigued at the twists and turns their life took on their journey to achieve their goals. I remember particularly the biography I read about Woodrow Wilson. He held my interest because he was born in my home state of Georgia. He provided a character education lesson because he showed great tenacity as he never gave up even after several failed businesses that resulted in a bankruptcy. History provides a wealth of material to teach character education, both positive and negative.

History teaches a wide range of material. It isn’t simply a litany of dead people, places, and dates. I am amazed all the time as I discover links to science curriculum and the arts in the units I teach. You can’t teach United States regions without mentioning that each region has its own ecosystem made up of specific food chains, climates, and physical features. A study of history clearly shows man’s love of the arts and it cannot be denied that once a civilization was able to maintain a steady food supply their creative ideas flowed whether on rock walls, papyrus, or cedar bark. These links provide relevance for students. It assists them to take small chunks of history squares and weave them into a knowledge quilt.

The links that students can discover between history, science, and the arts provides a well constructed framework that bond national and regional past events. This allows for comparisons with contemporary events to provide context for understanding. The American Revolution was basically our first national event. The powers that be in my home state of Georgia like for students to learn the significance of historical events as they relate to our state. Before we get into Georgia’s participation in the Revolution I have introduced the events leading to the war up to the Battle of Bunker Hill. When they realize we are going to talk about Georgia’s participation they get real excited and quickly get really upset. They are very disappointed to learn that Georgia fell very early in the war to the British. They learn that we have some war heroes but the majority of colonials in Georgia were Tories. Georgia was not the hotbed of revolution that Massachusetts or Virginia was. We then embark on a mission to understand why Georgia was not heavily involved in the independence movement.

History when presented properly lends itself to critical analysis. Even young students are capable of reviewing a series of primary and secondary resources and independently determine what happened during an event and why. This independence is a goal we have for all students throughout all disciplines of education. History is a perfect curriculum tool to practice analysis, generalizing, and inference. In fact, the Bradley Commission Report on History in the Schools (1988) states, “…history is the only avenue we have to reach an understanding of ourselves and our society. Without such understanding the two foremost aims of American education will not be achieved---the preparation of all our people for private lives of personal integrity and fulfillment, and their preparation for public life as democratic citizens.”

The question I pose in the title is a no brainer to someone like me. You see, I am one of those people who can be totally consumed by large twenty pound history tomes. I love the intrigue, story-twists, coincidences, and repetition of themes involved in history. I’ll read the history of anything. The history of butter, word histories, Mandarin Chinese, buttermilk, famous cats in history, the history of knitting, obscure African tribal histories, and yes…..American history.

I strongly identify with a character in the Kingsley Amis novel, Lucky Jim, who works in the history department of a fictitious English university when he answers the department telephone by stating, “History speaking!” We are all history every minute of every day. We participate in the history of our families, we add to the history of the corporations and businesses we serve each day at work, and we participate in history as we vote, compose a letter to our congressman or a newspaper editor or attend a demonstration or memorial.

Recently I was looking at a website attached to the University of Utah and a history professor was reporting that he had asked one of his history classes of two hundred students, “Why is history important?” A student spoke up and honestly answered very matter of factly, “It’s not important. It’s about dead people, not about me.” The professor stood his ground during a deafening round of applause from the other students and countered, “Well, I see dead people. I hear dead people and ……so will you!”

Is learning history important? You bet it is!

Begin to encourage a love of history in your students. Remind them each day that they are history by dismissing them enthusiastically with the phrase, “YOU’RE HISTORY!”

If you haven’t stopped by in awhile and you’re wondering why I’m re-running old posts click HERE for an explanation! :)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Typical Day

The following post first appeared here at History Is Elementary in September, 2006 and is titled A Typical Day. This particular post was picked up and printed in its entirety for a USA Today article regarding teachers who blog.

This post deals with testing and how testing weeks can turn a school upside down… a typical day can become anything but typical.

The picture posted here is my classroom as it appeared in 2006. Today, a lovely friend of mine has custody of MY room, and I’m glad she’s the one keeping watch over it.

So if you came to my classroom this week or next would you see a typical day in Elementaryhistoryteacher’s classroom?

Unfortunately you would miss out.

It simply wouldn’t happen. My school has entered the realm of CRAZY SCHOOL which is a parallel universe created by all of the education stakeholders across America. CRAZY SCHOOL is where you take a smooth running machine that has been in operation for some five weeks and throw it to the four winds. The result is a faculty and staff that are so incredibly flexible they can be described as Gumby look-alikes along with a slightly bewildered student body that from one day to the next has a completely different schedule.

It’s not normal for my nine year olds to sit still for three hours while they show me what they know or don’t know compared to other students across our fair nation. It’s not normal for me to be in my office, (yes, that’s how I think of it) for three hours as the designated time keeper and gopher for Kleenex, sharpened pencils, and plastic baggies for that stubborn tooth that decides to pop out between answer bubbles. The burden of test security and protocols alone is extremely daunting and psychologically exhausting to my colleagues and me.

Gee, one wrong move and I might as well tear up my certificate.

Once the testing period is over we begin an abbreviated schedule so that we can still have the majority of our day for academics.

Remember academics?

The reason why we’re there in the first place……In twenty-first century education, however, an abbreviated schedule for some 5-600 kids is easier said than done when a large majority of them have individual needs and requirements and are tracked more ways than Atlanta has Peachtree Streets. An abbreviated schedule means you’re going to end up with a few kids you aren’t supposed have that class period, you’re going to not have some kids you need, and somehow or another your personal potty break doesn’t happen until 4:30 p.m. You figure out it is lunch time but you don’t have the normal group you take to lunch so you take the group you’re with, but then someone forgets and picks up the group they always pick up which means a group gets left behind.

The result?


Keep smiling, stay flexible and tread that water! Testing time is almost half over.

So, let’s pretend it’s not CRAZY SCHOOL time. Let’s pretend you have come to visit when it’s a normal, routine school day. What would you see? Well, first of all you would see students sitting in mixed gender and ability groups. Students would be busy completing several different planned activities based on content we would have gone over a day or two before.

Generally my fourth grade students receive new American History content through one to two days of teacher-directed instruction heavily infused with questioning strategies, opportunities for predictions, and discussion.

Yes, you CAN discuss history with a nine year old.

Since this is the first opportunity for most of my students to learn about American History and since they are still developing their non-fiction reading skills I rely on the text, teacher-prepared notes, short trade books, videos, and teacher-created power point presentations to deliver content. A few “oh-by-the-way” type stories don’t hurt either. During our study of World War I, my fifth graders always perked up when I discussed the nastiness of trench foot. Ick!

Once students have content in a holding pattern in their dear little heads I follow up with three to four days of intense individual and group work where students rotate through a series of activities to hone textbook skills locating and recalling information, reproducing diagrams and maps, and writing creatively. Students also create vocabulary flashcards with the definition on the front and an illustration on the back. Students keep their flashcards on a metal ring and consider it a symbol of honor when they can show off a full ring of cards at the end of the year. I guess you could call it a ring of history.

Student extend the content by reading a related set of Accelerated Reader titles, reviewing a list of web sites I have created, or a selection of Kids Discover magazines that I have grouped together for the unit. Groups also work on a reading skill for each text lesson and have opportunities to work with content through crossword puzzles, cloze activities, and various graphic organizers.

I generally move around the room from group to group checking for understanding, asking more questions, and observing any holes I might have in my instruction. I also identify core skill weaknesses students might have. The noise level can get out of hand and off task behavior is a risk, but I have found that by being among the children I can help students by re-directing them when necessary.

So that’s what you would see most days in my classroom, but not this week.

CRAZY SCHOOL is the norm for this week.

Yes, this is the season of the mulligan……a series of past posts I’m republishing for your reading pleasure……and explanation was posted HERE

Monday, April 05, 2010

It's THE Week for Golf in Georgia

Augusta, Georgia is front and center this week as the golf infamous and elite arrive to play the much heralded course at August National.

President Eisenhower loved August National…..this post relates a little about his experiences there, and there are a couple of links at the end to other posts I’ve written concerning the course.

David Eisenhower became a member of the August National Club in 1948. Prior to becoming president he managed to visit the course five different times.

Ike loved golf. Estimations go as high as 800 regarding the number of rounds of golf Eisenhower played during his eight years in office visiting various courses. Some of those rounds were played during the 29 visits he made to Augusta National. a Golf Digest article advises President Eisenhower loved golf so much he installed a putting green on the south lawn of the White House and during inclement weather he hit long irons into a net in the basement.

With the help of donations from club members a cabin was built for Eisenhower on the grounds of Augusta National in 1953 for a cost of $70,000. However, your idea of a cabin, my idea of a cabin, and Augusta National’s idea of cabin are totally different things. The Eisenhower cabin is a house as seen in the image here. The cabin was built to the specifications of the Secret Service and has an entire lower floor where agents resided when Eisenhower visited Augusta. The cabin served as the first real home President Eisenhower had known since graduating form West Point in 1915 and entering the army. When the President wasn’t visiting the cabin, it was used by other club members.

Accommodations were also made for the President to complete his business affairs----the business of the nation---in an office that was provided for him over the club’s pro shop. In fact, it has been reported that the “Eisenhower Doctrine,” where America announced it would use force in the Middle East, was announced within a fairway wood of the first tee. Today Eisenhower’s own cracker barrel sits in the Augusta National Pro Shop. The wood used for the barrel was once part of the White House roof.

Sadly it was impossible for President Eisenhower to attend a Masters Tournament while he was president. It would have been too disruptive. However, he would usually show up on the following Monday to play a round with the winner. The same Golf Digest article I referenced above states Arnold Palmer remembered Ike as “a regular guy on the golf course and a regular guy period.”

Palmer also remembered Ike was a fierce competitor who fought for a $1 nassau bet as if he were hitting a beach in France. “When somebody conceded him a putt,” Palmer recalls, “there was no discussion. He picked up his ball and moved on fast.”

At least once during the coverage for the Masters Tournament you will hear a reporter mention the Eisenhower Pine. The tree in question is a Loblolly Pine that stands 65 feet tall and is estimated to be at least 100 years old. It is located on the 17th hole, and is 210 yards from the Master’s tee.

The tree and Eisenhower had quite a contentious relationship. The pine had a bad habit of getting in the President’s way. At a 1956 club meeting Eisenhower addressed the members in attendance and suggested the tree should be cut down. The Augusta National Club website advises that club president, Clifford Roberts, adjourned the meeting immediately instead of offending the President by rejecting his request outright. Citing Roberts Rules the club president ruled the President of the United States out of order.

Some of the changes to the Augusta National property President Eisenhower proposed were more positive, however. At one point Eisenhower mentioned he had found a perfect place to build a dam in order to form a fish pond. Today the dam is exactly where the President suggested, and the pond is referred to as Ike’s Pond.

One of the best stories concerning President Eisenhower at Augusta National is the time when the press corps was allowed to follow him on a full round of the course. At Rae’s Creek Ike hit two balls into the water. The President of the United States immediately stripped of his shoes and went after the errant golf balls. The reporters had a very rare moment on their hands, unfortunately I have yet to find a photograph of this moment online.

This article first appeared at American Presidents Blog in April, 2008

Over at Georgia on My Mind I discuss Ike’s special church pew in Augusta and at History Is Elementary I discuss the history of the land where Augusta National is today.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Sticky Easter Memory

This is a true story I wrote in 2006……while it deals with my memories about the death of my great-grandmother, it is also a humorous story regarding a very old-time southern funeral, the Easter Bunny, and what can happen to your gum on a very, very warm Spring day……


I’m sure, dear reader, you are familiar with the definition of sticky as it refers to candy. Did you know that there is now a cyberspace definition for sticky? It has to do with how well your site attracts traffic. Sticky sites have high volumes of traffic, especially the returning kind.

Has your mind ever returned to a memory due to a sound you’ve heard, a smell, or even a particular holiday? I guess we could call those memories “sticky” because we keep returning to them.

Yesterday morning as I awoke I remembered that it was Easter Sunday. My mind instantly returned to a memory that is sticky in more ways than one. My father’s family buried his grandmother on Easter Sunday. She was 102; I was 6. Every Easter I recall this day because Granny should be remembered, and I got myself into a sticky mess at her funeral.

Granny, as her family and community called her, was born immediately following the War of Northern Aggression (her point of view). In Sunday school yesterday a friend of mine remarked that as we grow older we tend to stop following fashion trends and settle for the decade where we are most comfortable. What an apt description of my great-grandmother. Picture the little old lady from the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons and you have my great-grandmother. She was outspoken and feisty. Granny usually ruled the roost. She wore wire spectacles, her hair in a braid or bun, long dresses and black lace-up shoes with a heel. Her “everyday” bonnet always hung on a rocker by the fireplace that to this day we still call Granny’s rocker. My children who of course never met Granny even call this revered chair “Granny’s” rocker. I have one of her bonnets in my classroom that I pull out when we talk about the settlement of the West.

By the time I came along Granny was well known in the community due to the large number of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she had. Huge parties were given from her 90’s as well as her 100th, 101st, and finally her 102nd birthday where large numbers of friends and family would descend upon my grandfather’s small farmhouse. The local radio station, WCHK, broadcasted interviews with her and she would receive birthday greetings from the governor.

How my great-grandmother lived and how I live today is separated by a gulf of technology. She would find most of my life a huge waste of good energy and would most certainly let me know that in a very pointed way. I, on the other hand, would find the life she led extremely difficult. She spent most of her time ensuring her family had something to eat each day by growing it, harvesting it, or killing it-----sometimes with her bare hands.

Granny passed away at home quietly on Good Friday, 1968. They brought her home as was the custom for persons from that generation and placed the coffin in the front bedroom where she had died.

Knowing that there would be no room for us in my grandfather’s house my father rented a pop-up camper for us to sleep in. The whole event was quite an adventure from my viewpoint. I did, however, worry about the Easter Bunny and how he would find me in that camper.

When we arrived at my grandfather’s my father ushered my sister and I into the front bedroom to pay our respects. He was intent on us doing the right thing. The cannonball bed that Granny slept in had been dismantled and the coffin filled the room. The funeral home had placed two large floor lamps on either side of the casket. They cast a golden hue over the room. The flowers folks had sent, mainly carnations, emitted a sickly, sweet smell that I associate with death to this day.

Daddy stood behind my sister holding her in place as their respects were paid. Daddy’s actions spoke volumes even in my young mind. He was teaching us how to handle ourselves even in the midst of his own grief. My sister looked as if she wanted to bolt from the room the minute Daddy removed his hands, and she did. Daddy immediately turned to me and scooped me up into his arms. He swung me up and over Granny’s coffin. I can close my eyes right now and experience that light-headed feeling as I went up into the air. My excitement turned to curiosity mixed with fear as my legs dangled over my great-grandmother’s body. I wondered if Daddy was going to drop me onto Granny’s body. I looked down and examined Granny’s serene form. She’s sleeping----just sleeping I remember thinking.

The next morning I discovered the Easter Bunny did know where I was. My over flowing basket was lying next to me when I woke up. I began my breakfast with assorted marshmallow eggs (the kind with the white fluff inside) and the ears from my chocolate bunny.

I rode to the funeral with my Aunt Boofie------yes, I know…one of those horribly strange family nicknames that no one ever thinks to ask about its origin until everyone that knows is gone. The funeral would be a country affair with several preachers, lots of hymn singing, and no air conditioning. It might have been Spring but it was h-o-t----hot. I was dressed as any six year old young lady would have been at the time---lots of chiffon, lacy, scratchy petticoats and underwear and white anklet socks with layer upon layer of lace. My white patent Maryjanes squeaked when I rubbed them together, so I did it often just to annoy my elders.

As we traveled down the road Aunt Boofie handed everyone in the car a couple of sticks of Juicy Fruit gum. Under normal circumstances gum would have been an appropriate thing to do but not when one has been indulging in Easter eggs and chocolate all morning. The combination was simply bad chemistry in my mouth. The gum immediately turned into a slimy substance with bits of crystallized sugar from the colored covering of the candy eggs. The gum still hung together but it was incredibly sticky and gooey. I certainly didn’t want it in my mouth so I simply did what any six year old would do….I took it out and held it. I reasoned that I would throw it away once I got to the church.

Upon arriving we waited forever out in the hot sun for everyone else to assemble. Then we had to wait on the pall bearers to form ranks and carry Granny into the church. By this time the gum had morphed itself into super glue. Not wanting my Mom to see it I pressed my hands together and intertwined my fingers together.

As we walked into the church everyone was commenting to Mom how cute I looked. One cousin remarked I sure did look sweet with my hands all folded like I was ready to commence prayer.

Once we were seated I attempted to get my hands apart. They wouldn’t budge. I tried and tried through three songs and two of the preachers. The mourners began filing past the open casket before it closed for all time and Mom and I watched as everyone left their pews and filed around by the casket and back up the aisle to their seats. My grandfather lingered the longest hovering over the casket saying things I could not hear. I was so mesmerized I momentarily forgot my hands were cemented together. Pa’s body shook with heavy sobs. It is definitely a pivotal moment in someone’s life when you see a security figure, a larger than life figure, collapse into a heaving, sobbing mess. It dawned on me at that moment that my grandfather was crying over his mother. He had a mommie----just like me. I began to cry. Have you ever tried to wipe tears away when your hands are cemented together?

Pa eventually sat down and it was getting closer and closer to mine and Mom’s time to go up. My thoughts turned back to my hands. I repeatedly tried to pry them apart, but they would only budge an inch or so. My thoughts were so intent on getting them apart that I forgot Mom was sitting right next to me. She glanced down to pinch me into stillness and saw my hands. Her gasp was so loud that the folks in front of us turned around. Mom was so embarrassed and flustered. She motioned for the rest of the pew to file out around us while we just sat. The longer that funeral went on the madder Mom got. She was so upset with me that she drug me to her car and took me straight back to my grandfather’s without going to the burial leaving the rest of the family to wonder what was wrong.

The rest of my Easter Sunday was spent with my hands alternately submerged in ice water or held out to my mom. She rubbed and scrubbed my hands until they both were raw.

Needless to say my Aunt Boofy never gave me a piece of gum or candy again. However, my Aunt Rachel did give me a Kentucky Fried chicken leg one time, but that’s another sticky memory entirely.