by Being Diane
What happens when you bring in an article and don't look up a word you don't know?
An Incident in History Class
It is hard growing up, fairly naïve, as an only child. You don't learn a lot about the facts of life and there are not a lot of discussions about anatomy.
My 8th grade history class was taught by Mr. Tragger who was a credit to his profession. He made History an exciting subject for us. Mr. Tragger had olive skin with deep black hair, beard, and dark brown eyes; he was not hard on the eyes, if you know what I mean. Mr. Tragger looked like Cat Stevens.
I admired Mr. Tragger both mentally and physically, and once in the lunchroom I made a horrific mistake by saying, “Okay, Michael baby!” after he scolded me by telling me to settle down. When I went to school, calling a teacher by his first name was a sin but adding baby to his name could cause serious consequences. That prank put me in the corner with no lunch.
Mr. Tragger encouraged his class to participate in discussions about politics and worldly events. He loved to talk about past wars and leaders. We would debate in his class and it was the first time in school that we really felt we could engage in class participation.
One particular day we were on the subject of Hitler and the damage he did in Germany and how he tried to take over other countries. Since this was something based years ago, Mr. Tragger challenged us to find a current newspaper with information on Hitler. I was up for the challenge. I went home and got busy searching through Mom’s old newspapers. There was a slight problem; most of her newspapers were the scandalous newspapers such as the Enquire, Globe, Star, all the tabloids of the sixties. Most people actually believed the newspapers. Naïve people, like my Mom, thought a newspaper could not print information if it was not true.
Well, I found just the right article on Hitler; it was very interesting, for sure. It read of a plane crash claiming Hitler’s actual death report was incorrect. Hitler did not kill himself because they located something in the plane wreckage proving this fact. Whatever the something was, I could not enunciate nor did I know the meaning. Much later in life this episode really taught me the importance of knowing what words you were using. I spent a great deal of time looking for an article on Adolf Hitler so using the dictionary was just an extra burden. The day came to bring our articles to class. I had something worthy of turning into Mr. Tragger. I knew that the next day I would be the hit of the class. I decided not to let any of my classmates know what a goldmine I found in Mother’s tabloid newspaper.
Mr. Tragger’s class was the most stimulating class of the day and I wanted to make a good impression. As I entered the door, Mr. Tragger was at his desk accepting newspaper clippings from the class. I was surprised at how many of my fellow classmates were able to get clippings of something that happened so long ago in history. I thought I would be just one of a few that would be lucky enough to find something about Hitler. Still I thought my newspaper clipping had to be the most interesting because it was proving a part of history wrong. I handed my article in with a big smile. Mr. Tragger told us to sit down while he went through the clippings. He came to mine and I knew he probably would read it to the class but to my surprise he ask me to come up to his desk. I was hoping he did not want me to read the article because of the word I could not pronounce or even know what it meant for that matter. He motioned me over and had me bend over to listen to him.
"Gosh, I thought, "this must have been the greatest article of all my peers. "
Then Mr. Tragger in a whisper ask me, "Where did you get this article? I told him from one of my mother’s newspapers.
Mr. Tragger said, “Farris do you know what the word testicles means?”
“Nope. I knew I did not know the word, Mr. Tragger but I knew this was about Hitler and it was part of the assignment.”
“Well, Farris, you have out done yourself on this article. I’m going to give you an A but please don't mention this to your other classmates.”
“Don’t you think they would really want to know how Hitler really died? History thought he killed himself with a gun and he actually died in an airplane accident because they found that particular piece of his body.”
“Farris, don't worry. Just go back and read about Hitler’s death in our history book. don't worry about the word you don't know. You will know what that word is soon enough.”
I did not remember the time in Mr. Tragger’s class until much later in Biology class in the 10th grade. It was there I learned that testicles are men’s balls and realized I really had to have a big set of balls especially for a girl, to turn that article in to my history teacher. I shall not forget the moral of the story: If you don't understand the word look it up in the dictionary. It is the best way to avoid embarrassment.