Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jim Henry and the Box

Back in the 50s my great uncle Jim Henry was a young lad struggling in school. Jim Henry didn't have a lot going for him as far as the excelling in school department. His name, to start, was a detraction. His first name was Jim, last name was Henry, but he was always referred to with first and last name - Jim Henry. Never ever just Jim, even as a kid... And this is always said with kinda a drawl on the JJIIMMM part, and quick on the Henry. So JJJIIIMMM Henry. Not a name that graced a future Nobel Prize winner.
    Secondly, he came from a long line of dyslexic men. My father (his cousin), to this day is a horrible speller. And can't say a lot of words - like he says "chimley" instead of "chimney" and, well, don't even ask him to try and say "aluminum" (we do it sometimes just for giggles).
    Thirdly Jim Henry's adoring mother and single parent, Jeanette Henry, was admired by all in our small town community. Admired for tough grit, her hard-working determination and mostly her amazing verbal command of all the nasty language there was to be had. The women could out-swear a soldier with creativity. And in a big, growly voice that resonated deep from the chest of this petite lady and reverberated across a room.  Jeanette didn’t say a lot, but when she had something to say, everybody heard it.
    So, poor Jim Henry had a lot of strikes against him in kindergarten. He had a sympathetic teacher, however, that decided that Jim Henry just needed a bit of "encouragement" to shine and when it came time for the annual school play gave Jim Henry the star role. He was to play the "Jack" in a Jack in the Box production. He would hide in a large box, and at the opportune time, when commanded by his classmates, pop out to the cheers and applause of the audience.
    The big evening came. The whole town was there. The big moment comes...
    "Pop out Jim Henry Pop Out!" His class chants.
    No Jim Henry.
    Confusion, pause...they try again. "Pop out Jim Henry Pop Out!"
    Again, nothing. The audience is enthralled. What could be happening? Murmurs through the crowd, the teacher looks concerned. Okay, one more time, louder this time.
    And from the the box, comes the high pitched, yet amazingly booming loud voice of 5 year old Jim Henry.
Words to make his mother proud.
 Postcript to the story added by Marilyn Sherman Clay....
Sherman Family lore always concludes the story with the words of teacher Margarent Clark. After Jim expresses his frustration with the inability to open the box,  Margaret kindly said " Oh, Jim, we don't talk like that!
Jim's response; "Well, WE do".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The boy called Bill (but named Karl)

My dad's name is Bill.  Bill Smith.  Only it's not.  He is called Bill, as in short for Karl Knight Smith.  Got it?  Makes perfect sense doesn't it?
Well, if you don't QUITE follow, let's back up a bit...
When little Bill was born his mother Roberta and father Knight agreed, that being he was the first born child, Knight would have the honor of naming him.  And so Knight, being the ever practical ranching farmer, did name him - named him Bill.  Bill Smith.  Just about the most common name possible in the English speaking world.  Easy to say when you need to.  Not a lot of syllables.
Little Bill's mother was not so found of this decision.
"What????  You can't name him Bill!  Bill Smith!  What kind of person would name their son that?  We'll name him Karl.  Karl Knight Smith.  Karl after my grandfather and Knight for his father," Roberta was sanctimonious in her decision.
So was father Knight.
"Fine," the proud father announced.  "Name him whatever you want, but I'm calling him Bill."