Growing up, the supper table was always a place to eat and express opinions. I was in grade school when my Mom and Dad regaled us with stories of J. Bracken Lee, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and F.D.R. Mom’s family were die-hard Democrats and Dad’s family were equally vehement about their allegiance to Republicans. Mom finally capitulated and went from blue to purple to red.
As a senior in high school, I became active in Young Republicans and was campaigning for Vice President Richard M. Nixon. I viewed John Fitzgerald Kennedy as an upstart and much too “east coast” for my liking. I remember sharing my views with my chemistry teacher, Mr. Bob Simmons. He was appalled that I could campaign for someone of Nixon’s ilk. To solidify my stand for Nixon, I agreed to push a peanut with my nose down the hall of Lehi High School if Kennedy won and Simmons would do the same if Nixon won. Of course, with optimum confidence I looked forward to the result of the election. We all remember that outcome.
Sometime in January, Mr. Simmons reminded me of our bet and I pushed a peanut down the hall with my nose, in a skirt, much to my chagrin and much to the laughter of the entire school.
Fast forward several decades, I was teaching at Murray High School during the “do your own thing” era. There were no attendance rules, no dress standards, and teachers would allow students to address them by their first names.
One day in my creative writing class, one of my star students showed up in a leather vest held together with a leather tie. There was nothing underneath. I was, needless to say, horrified. I told her she was not appropriately dressed and sent her to the office. The next day, I was notified that I owed my student an apology as her parents were aghast that I had reprimanded their daughter. So much for dress standards. The dress standard directive became part of an ongoing issue for me for many years.
Several years later, teachers in the state were threatening to strike. I quickly jumped on that bandwagon. I even have a shirt somewhere that read, “Stack ‘em deep and teach ‘em cheap.” I informed my family that if the teachers decided to strike, I would be on the front lines. The clamor died down and I went back to being grateful for my work as a school teacher.
But just the other day, I was driving down main street when a group of kids in a new SUV glared at me as they passed on the right side. I glared right back and then one of the kids expressed his displeasure at my driving by showing me a very disrespectful hand gesture. All the way home, I planned my next cause, “Old Lives Matter.” I even designed a T-shirt in my mind with the phrase “Old is Gold,” on the front. I conjured recent incidents where my age had been reasons for consternation. I called a friend of mine to join in my cause, but she said she was too tired and didn’t feel well. I decided maybe I was too old for such things and went in the house, turned on a Hallmark movie and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.