How times change.
Back when I was in high school, during the late 1950s and early 60s, there was an English Lit teacher at Coaldale High School by the name of Sam Pascoe.
Sam was a life-long educator and an avid outdoorsman. He lived on the same block as me, on Howard Avenue. And it wasn't unusual to see Sam, decked out in his hunting gear, walking with his shotgun and trusty Beagle past my house.
There was nothing unusual about this back then. Hunters were always seen walking in town with their guns on their way to the woods in search of rabbits and squirrels.
Try it today, and we would have an incident of major proportions. Sam lived only a block away from the high school where he taught. Imagine today, in this post-Columbine era, of anyone, let alone a teacher, carrying a gun in the vicinity of the school.
But nobody thought twice about it back then. In fact, Sam often talked about hunting and fishing in his classroom. The Monday after Thanksgiving every year was an unofficial holiday, as it was the first day of deer season.
So they closed down the school because half the students would be playing hooky anyway so they could go hunting. They'd all be out in the woods, in search of a prized buck.
What got me thinking about Sam and his shotgun was an email sent to me this week by a reader. It emphasizes how times and attitudes have changed in the last 50 years. See if you can relate to the following. Somebody put a lot of thought into this.
Jack goes rabbit shooting before school, pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack...
1957 Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his rifle and chats with Jack about guns.
2010 School goes into lock down, Star Force called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2010 Police called, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. Both children go to anger management programs for 3 months. School board holds meeting to implement bullying prevention programs
Robbie won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 Robbie sent to office and given 6 of the best by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2010 Robbie given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. Robbie's parents get fortnightly disability payments and School gets extra funding from state because Robbie has a disability.
Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2010 Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 Mark gets glass of water from Principal to take aspirin with.
2010 Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.
Pedro fails high school English.
1957 Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
2010 Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist.AFRE files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a bull ant nest.
1957 Ants die...
2010- State Police, Star Force, Federal Police & Anti-terrorism Squad called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, Feds investigate parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2010 Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.