Tag Archives: “My Senior Drear”

Catching up: If elected, I promise …

I know what went wrong.

Blame the time change, when we sprang forward an hour two weeks ago. I don’t handle change all that well. Go and throw a whole extra hour in the day – just like that – and poof!, I’m out of sorts. My doctor said I have SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. But she also said I need to lose weight, so what does she know, right?

(Just kidding. Dr. Reust is the best).

But my blogging schedule has been off. I’ve missed entire days. It’s not like the earth will stop spinning if I miss a day or two, but I’m out of kilter. This little acre of cyber space is the bit of structure I added to my life about four months ago and, wouldn’t you know it, you don’t tend to the yard for a few days and it needs mowing.

So consider this mowing. Friday is supposed to be memoir-in-progress “80’s Day,” but I’m going to skip all over the place right now. Follow along.

The Chronicles of Me

March 25, 1991 – “Meet The Candidates” forum at the Belle High School vo-ag room. I was one of six candidates vying for two seats on the Maries County R-2 Board of Education. That was 21 years ago. And that’s me on the right.

Is anyone surprised that I was the only guy wearing a tie?


I didn’t win, mostly because my last name was neither “Ridenhour” nor “Lange.” In fact, I finished fifth, but I did win the Canaan precinct in Gasconade County.

What the hail?

March 15, 1982 – A cast from the Baptist Student Union at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg was starting its third week of rehearsal for the musical, “The Apostle.” I played the part of Luke. (Yes, how fitting. The physician was also one of the world’s finest journalists). But the night of March 15 – it was a Monday night and we were rehearsing in the Lovinger Building gymnasium – a hailstorm busted out 3,000 windows on campus. Inside the gymnasium of the old building we were in, it sounded like the Apocalypse. (Whatever that sounds like).

What I remember most was how the streets flooded because the storm drains clogged up with golfball-size hail stones.

I was a staff writer for the Muleskinner, the campus paper. My front page story (just beneath the picture above) was “Regents pass dorm rate hike.” One sentence buried lower in the story noted that the university president asked the Board of Regents to authorize an emergency contract, “without competitive bid,” to repair the multipurpose building’s roof.

The good president called me to his office the day the paper came out (March 19) to tell me he was “perplexed” that I’d included that bit of information in the story. (My high school principal used to do the same thing). I asked, “Was it true?,” and he answered, “Well … yes,” and I wished him a good rest of the day and left.

That was 30 years ago this week. (What a trouble-maker!)

The Calendar Says …

March 23, 1982 – This notation: “75 days to go. Kelly.” Oh, yeah. We were engaged.

March 25 and 26, 1982 – Cue the lights! We performed “The Apostle.”

Fast Forward …

March 21, 1979 – “Shut up. I am going to KILL three or four of you! And I mean it!” That’s from my daily journal of my high school career at Belle High School, as spoken by English teacher Dale Mackey. Great guy, really – we often played tennis after school ‑ and I certainly don’t remember anything about his tirade, but apparently I lit his fuse that day. (Imagine that.) I laughed at his threat and he shouted some more. Me: “I think that’s pretty sad.” Him: “Well, your behavior is pretty sad, Jackson!”

The record is incomplete. I have no idea about the context.

From the aptly titled journal “My Senior Drear,” March 20, 1981 – “Had an emotional play practice last night. It’s all coming together now.” (I was Joe Keller in “All My Sons.” Intense.) “Kelly came over, we walked to school. She’s still sick, but we’re going out tonight.”

A little more …

“Cleaned out my moldy, rank locker. 3 bologna sandwiches, 1 ham/cheese, two Twinkies, 1/3 carton of milk. Carbon dating shows the provisions date back to September 1980.”

Got third quarter grades:

Journalism II – B

Astronomy – C

Study Hall – “I would’ve flunked study hall if there was a grading or credit system.”

Formal writing – A

Band – A minus

Yearbook/Publications – B

Speech II – A

Lunch that day? “Something that resembles congealed tooth plaque (allegedly ‘corn’).”

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Filed under A reporter's life, MIP: Memoir-in-progress

‘Hmmm: Where IS that lizard?’

It’s Friday. That means a memoir-in-progress flashback to the big hair and big dreams of the 1980s.


March 9, 1982: “Anthropology essay due. Don’t think Ms. Maserang-Hodge-McCoy will be humored by, ‘Why My Ethnocentricity Is Best.’ ”

On further review: My college anthropology teacher really did have a double-hyphenated last name. It had something to do with her white-hot hatred of men. As I recall — and I might be making this part up — each of her last names was based on her maiden name, her mother’s maiden name, and her grandmother’s maiden name.

And also, she did not “get” my essay. I got an “F.” I made a “D” in the class — the lowest grade I ever got in my life, except for that “I-minus” (equivalent of D-minus) in seventh grade math, but I have blotted most of that nightmarish seventh grade year in Jefferson City from my mind. The only thing that period of my life gave me were stories to tell someday to therapists and psychologists. 

I’m not kidding.

– From the pages of My Senior Drear, the day-by-day, hour-by-hour log of each day of my four years of tormenting classmates, teachers and administrators at Belle High School …

Monday, March 9, 1981 – Before school: picked up Kelly; mailed my financial aid form. … Second hour (astronomy): Saw a film about Alaska. What a bore. What the heck does that have to do with astronomy? … Had baseball practice after school …

Quick step back to the 70s, from my freshman year … Thursday, March 9, 1978 — Mostly boring and hot. First hour band: Played “Battle Hymn of the Republic” ALL HOUR! The brass section sucked today. Alto saxes? We rocked, of course, as usual. … Second hour: showed my pet lizard around the room. Got in trouble for showing my pet lizard … Fifth hour: PE. My lizard is missing. Check the cafeteria …

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Memoir-in-Progress: Jan. 20, 1981

First things first: Countdown to Kianna is now at 30 days. One month to delivery.

From Jan. 8, Part 2 of my list of 2012 New Year’s resolutions: #37. Find and reassemble the nerdy journal I kept for every day of high school. (A work also known as “My Senior Drear.”)

Rather than go right to Jan. 20, 1981 — apparently that was a rather historic day — I’ll start with a few nuggets from dates prior to that one. I’m referencing “My Senior Drear: Book 2, Volume B.”

Jan. 7, 1981, Wednesday — My sports column should be in today’s paper.

First hour, journalism: Planned more for first publication of paper; planned assignments.

Lunch: something refuse-flavored.

Sixth hour, publications (Yearbook class): Got ad pages back because there were some errors on them. Completed another four dummy sheets.

Seventh hour, speech and debate: Practiced speech for Parkway Tournament. Jack broke everything off with Terri.

Jan. 8, 1981, Thursday — No report. Kevin was manic, 37:43:5. (This meant 37 days manic, 43 days depressive, five days balanced. Kevin was a junior, one of my friends who was quite the personality. I think the manic:depressive:balanced score was a joke. I think).

Jan. 9, 1981, Friday — Left at 9 a.m. to go to Parkway West Speech Tournament.

Jan. 12, 1981, Monday — I stayed home. Fatigued.

Jan. 13, 1981, Tuesday — Great mood. I drove, took Kelly to school. We were fighting this morning. It’ll pass.

Jan. 14, 1981, Wednesday — I scored 12 points last night as Faith Baptist slaughtered RLDS in the church league.

Fourth hour, formal writing: I hope we don’t have a quiz soon, for i haven’t paid attention for four days. Strangely, however, my writing has improved and I have found i’ve been implementing elements studied in this course. I guess I am listening.

Jan. 15, 1981, Thursday … Laughed ’til I cried fourth hour. (No note on what was so funny).

Jan. 16, 1981, Friday — Homecoming tonight.

Jan. 19, 1981, Monday — Long day; tense. Didn’t stop running all day. Kevin depressive 45:42:5.

Editor’s note: I present the journal entry for Jan. 20, 1981, Tuesday, in its entirety.

Jan. 20, 1981, Tuesday — Some notes before beginning any other writing: This could be one of the biggest days in American history. The hostages being held in Iran are to be released. I will cry tears of peace, joy and even sorrow — for the world.

Ronald Reagan will be inaugurated as the 40th president of the U.S.A. at noon today.

First hour, journalism: Assignment: 10 front-page ledes, what percentage use the 5-W lede. Also, write 5 ledes using the 5-Ws.

Second hour, astronomy: Mr. Abels asks, “Why is there no water on the moon?” My response: “It all dried up.”

Third hour, study hall: Went to typing room and typed. Miss Schacht heard on the radio that the hostages were in the air headed to Algiers or Wiesbaden.

Fourth hour, formal writing: I’m in a terrible, destructive mood. Mrs. Sharp is going to destruct me soon, I believe. Kevin is Depressive. 46:42:5


… For some reason that was my final entry for that day. Apparently there was drama and dissent among speech team members and the play cast after lunch. And by “drama” I don’t mean reciting lines and blocking scenes. I didn’t keep an accurate record of whatever transpired. Apparently there was no blood-letting or any violations of my Constitutional rights, because I would have recorded THAT.

But at least the hostages were free.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #8

I’ve got the best books in the house; I like collecting really old books. The oldest one that I have — I mean, besides The Bible (and by Bible, I mean “Authorized King James Version”) — is “Practical Housekeeping,” printed by Perry & Baldy, Denver, Colo., 1885. It’s mostly recipes and handy tips for the mindful housewife. The dedication page reads, “To those Plucky Housewives who master their work instead of allowing it to master them, This book is dedicated.”

The book’s a real hoot. I’m sure by the time you’re considering your life’s paths, you’ll get a kick out of it, too. Maybe we’ll even talk Mrs. Grandpa into trying some of the recipes with us. Cucumber catsup. Gooseberry catsup. Quail on toast. Jugged hare. Winter succotash. Pigs’-feet souse.


I’m kidding, of course. Instead, I’ll teach you an important Jackson code word that I used with your mom, Kishia, and Aunt Tasha when we’d visit somewhere for lunch or supper and somebody served something that resembled pigs’-feet souse — whatever that is.

When we make eye contact and telepathically agree, “We can’t possibly eat this,” that’s when Grandpa will stretch and say, “Woah! Looks like Kianna and Grandpa are stuffed! We’ll have to take a walk after supper.”

Take a walk” means “find the nearest Quik-Trip” or “go to McDonald’s.”

You’ll catch on.


Filed under Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress

The fine art of being annoying

Memoir-in-Progress …

How did I survive high school?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I mean really?

Exhibit “A” from “My Senior Drear,” a daily journal of my high school career at Belle (Maries County R-2) High School. To wit: “Jan. 16, 1980. A day of monumental significance in the history of Belle High. Dewayne and I officially formed the Independent Student Council.” I was a junior; Dewayne Butler was a sophomore. We delivered a draft of our “charter” to our principal, Mr. Evans.

One of our first initiatives, outlined in rather mind-numbing detail, was that the school cafeteria “cease and desist preparing, cooking, heating, re-heating, re-heating more, sneezing into and dropping onto the floor, then re-heating thrice more and serving swill.” We also insisted that the school administration lighten up on a recent crackdown on public displays of affection, as one of the main tenets of the I.S.C. was, “Make love, not war (against students).”

I developed an incredible knack for annoying people at a very early age. I have documentation (penned by me, of course) to prove it. But annoying Mr. Evans was sport if only because he engaged us in silly quests for things like the I.S.C., “parking lot barbecue day” (another great idea that never happened) and “Random Student/Staff Execution Day.” Thirty-plus years ago you could get away with such things.

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Filed under MIP: Memoir-in-progress