Too School for Cool

Remember that universal schoolroom nightmare?

It is the one where you show up for class one morning—and discover you have forgotten to wear any clothes. Of course once you awaken, you realize the dream is absurd. Unless you are Tim Kosebud, my long ago fourth grade classmate.

He arrived at St. Francis elementary one wintry day—and while taking off his long overcoat —discovered he had somehow forgotten to don a pair of pants. Since St. Francis was a parochial catholic school, Kosebud was definitely not wearing the recommended uniform. A furtive call to his mother saved the day—as she soon arrived with his pair of salt-and-pepper corduroy pants.

(A few years later, Tim got himself into trouble again when he tried to sneak beer into school—and it wasn’t even good beer. Very flat. At least the nun who taught our class said so.)

I remembered episodes like those a couple of weeks ago at the 80th anniversary commemoration of that school in Bend, Oregon. Given the honor of emceeing the event, I took some time to think back on old school days, classmates and teachers. Even old food.

I remembered a baloney sandwich I had hidden behind a drainpipe during my 7th grade year. I had planned to devour it just after a big test—but forgot. When I checked last week the sandwich was gone—including the baloney. As for the test, it was an essay—and also baloney.
The gathering last week brought together former teachers, former faculty, former staff and former students. They were all located through the website

There were even three people who had been in the original classes 80 years ago—an amazing occasion.
But some people expected to be on hand failed to show up. Tim Kosebud was a no-show—perhaps still embarrassed over the pants incident. Nonetheless, his absence was unexcused.

Another old classmate of mine—Danny Heckathorn—did arrive. But he was a bit late and suffering from jet lag. No wonder: He had flown in from Bellingham earlier in the day.

I began my presentation by bragging a bit—announcing that I had just signed a three-year deal with Netflix. After the applause died down, I explained just what a great deal it was:

The first three months are free, and then it’s just $9.95 a month after that.
There had long been a rumor going around that Danny Heckathorn was a straight A student at St. Francis School. But most people did not believe the rumor, so Danny stopped spreading it.
I too was not a great student. But perhaps that was because I was not cut out for academia—I wanted to be a dancer. My dream was to be the first-ever male belly dancer.
But a brutally honest instructor finally gave me the bad news: I did not have the navel for it.
No question about it though: St. Francis School gave many students an important foundation. Webster’s defines foundation as “a supporting undergarment.” So we will always think of the school as the corset of our education.
The school opened in 1936—so I asked the assembled group to imagine what the world was like eighty years ago.

Think of it. No You Tube. No Facebook. No Instagram, e-Bay, GPS, blogs, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Prozac or Viagra.

And no Google—nor Bing. Except for Crosby.

There were no zombies on TV. There was no TV.

A tweet was the sound a bird made. Even swifts. But there was no Swift named Taylor.
1936 was Kardashian-free—along with Justin Beiber, Adele and Larry the Cable Guy. But if there were a Larry the Cable Guy, the cable would have referred to telegrams, not TV.

Real Housewives were real housewives.

There were no iPhones, pods or pads—and drone was what certain priests did from the pulpit.
Green was just a color, blackberry was a fruit—and phones made calls. Only calls. And they were hooked to a wall.
People wrote letters; they did not text. LOL did not stand for anything.

A trump was a card you played in bridge.

The net was something only used by fishermen, acrobats—and people serving school lunches.
And if you heard the words “Harry Potter” you assumed it was referring to a hirsute guy with a kiln.
Today, the old St. Francis School has been converted into a hotel—and a brewpub. So Tim Kosebud doesn’t have to sneak beer in anymore.

In fact, he is welcome there—as long as he remembers his trousers.