More on names and titles

Here comes a bit of trivia and another item from my past. Having mentioned before in this column that, as children, my siblings and I were often told by our parents, “Children are meant to be seen, not heard.”

That was part of the honoring of our elders which also meant that we did not address our elders by a first name, but instead we were to use some honorific title such as aunt or uncle even if that person may not be honorificabilitudinitatibus.

[(honorificabilitudinitatibus = the state of being to achieve honors) Apologies for mentioning this. I just discovered that word and in my defense for using it, I would note that it was used by none other than William Shakespeare in “Love’s Labor’s Lost.” It is the longest word in the English language with only alternating consonants and vowels. Add that to your lexicon next to supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.]

One of my favorite teachers in high school, Mr. Chester Gooding, never addressed his students by first names, but instead were given other honorific titles, like brother Ted or cousin Ted. In my second year of teaching, I taught in the high school where Mr. Gooding had become the principal and his honorific titles continued to be used for all of the faculty in much the same vein, using titles for an older person such as uncle Ted, Mister Ted or even Mister Rowe, especially if students were close by.

The high school class that I took from Mr. Gooding was Earth science, a one semester elective course that was one of the few classes from which I could choose that actually fit my schedule. I still have a small collection of fossils collected on field trips in southwest Ohio and submitted as a project for the class.

One of Mr. Gooding’s presentations that he gave in a well prepared lecture was a timeline of travel and exploration where he predicted that within a few years we would have a man landing on the moon. This was very dramatic to the class as it was a couple of years before 23 inch in diameter Sputnik (1957) which in turn was 12 years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 were the first two to step on the moon. Since then, only 10 other men have been on the moon, the last being Gene Cernan who went there on Apollo 17 in 1972. Yes, that was 45 years ago.

Note that no other countries have landed a human being on the moon, though several have had spacecrafts land there. Any predictions for when a human will land on Mars?


Before I move onto another topic, I am adding a bit of coincidence.

I am the type of reader who reads just one book or article at a time, reading to the finish. However, I happened to have two books checked out from the Marshall-Lyon County Library and received a message from the library that the book I had not started was coming due soon. I was engrossed in the other book. The problem was, the book I hadn’t started, Ron Chernow’s “Grant” was a non-renewable tome of about 1100 pages. So I had to stop reading the one I was into and began “Grant.”

The coincidence was that I had already written the first paragraph at the beginning of this article, but about an hour into “Grant” I came across a reprimand of Ulysses S. Grant when he was 21 serving at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Grant had not been prompt in showing up for chow as he was expected to do. The officer in charge in a short period of 10 days had fined Ulysses three bottles of wine, one of the standard fines at that base. Grant essentially “mouthed-off” and received the rebuke from the officer in charge: “Mr. Grant, young people should be seen, not heard.”


A faithful reader of the Independent for many years wrote to me a few weeks ago after reading in this column about the book, “Silas Marner,” by George Eliot. We both read it many years ago, albeit I was at Stivers High School in Dayton, Ohio, a few years after she was at Westbrook High School here in Minnesota. Obviously good educational establishments in both cases and my reader says of her background: Excellent teachers.

This faithful reader of the Independent had just completed reading “Silas Marner” for one of her high school classes and had then been asked by her teacher to write a summary of the book with any impressions received from the reading.

She creatively chose to write her response in poetry form. She wrote to me that she thought maybe she still had her poem somewhere in her memorabilia, but even without that and though she somewhat disparaged the poem as being “corny,” she knew the first verse by heart:

Silas Marner was a weaver by trade

Who really loved the Lord,

But all this quickly did die and fade

When accused of stealing the deacon’s horde.

How could I not like this verse when it matches my criterion of rhyming endings? Besides that, I believe it clearly tells the beginning of the story. I hope it makes some other readers out there want to look up poor Silas and find out the rest of his story.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!