THE 'B-' BOOKSHELF
The girls had Home Ec, where they learned the importance of cooking, cleaning and sprucing up for when Hubby came home from work.
The boys learned how to build stuff with tools. I don’t know about the Home Ec instructors, but Shop teachers usually had eight and a half fingers, and a criminal record. My eighth grade instructor Mr. Sanders fit right in with the stereotypical Shop teacher.
My very first class at Shop was spent learning all about the intricacies of the “Shop Wastebasket.” The Shop wastebasket had a lid. The lid was lifted with a foot pedal. The wastebasket had a lid so that flammable materials could be disposed of without risk of starting a fire. Some materials soaked with common Shop solvents could self-combust if not for the lid which cuts off the oxygen required for fire to take place.
How Mr. Sanders turned that bit of fascinating material into a full 45 minute lecture pays tribute to his teaching skill.
There was a quiz.
I think I only took shop for one year. Our grade was determined solely on the success of one construction project; well 10% was the result of the “Shop Wastebasket” quiz.
For my project I selected a bookshelf. It consisted of two ends carefully cut with a power jigsaw, a base, and two back supports the top which had an intricate pattern. All the pieces were nailed together. The bookshelf took several months to complete including sanding staining and applying varnish.
Rags used to apply the stain and varnish were safely disposed of in the Shop Wastebasket. Fortunately enough I knew how to work the wastebasket foot pedal and the school was safe from potential incineration.
I received a B- on the bookshelf. I was very proud of my bookshelf.
When I went to college I brought the bookshelf. When I graduated from college I did not bring the bookshelf home. I didn't know what happened to my bookshelf.
Thirty years later, I attended the first of what has become an annual college fraternity reunion. The first host was my old roommate, Stu “Wally” Robinson; “Wally” because he bears a striking resemblance to the old comedic actor, Wally Cox (GIYP.)
Wally who was now a very successful executive for one of the largest construction firms in the country took me on a tour of his home. As we passed his laundry room, I spied the B- bookshelf which was now apparently a B- laundry product shelf.
“Yo…so that’s what happened to it!”
“Happened to what?”
“My B- bookshelf, I haven’t seen it since college, I figured it just got tossed.”
“What, toss such a beautiful piece of workmanship? (Wally is known for his dry sense of humor) You gave it to me for my apartment after I got married before our last semester.”
“Did I? Well as long as it serves a useful purpose.”
I didn't want to claim it was stolen (which I think it was) because then Wally might remind me of what an ass I made of myself at his wedding (liquor and a piano were involved), an event that I’m not sure to this day I was even invited to attend.
The subject was dropped.
The next year the reunion was hosted by Carl “Gawk” Anderson; so named because, well he is just a big Gawk. When that event ended, Wally presented me with a neatly gift wrapped present. It looked strangely like a small book shelf. Unwrapped, it was indeed the B- bookshelf.
I took it home and it now is proudly hung in my garage where it became a B- nail and screw box holder.
I should probably re-wrap it for the reunion next year and return it to Wally.
Naw…I earned that B- and I'm using that shelf.