Dear Readers, I’ve been in the Ottawa General for well over a week. So far, four knee procedures to deal with, an infection of unknown origin. More coming. The following column was written twenty years ago. Your comments would be appreciated.
Ah, the first day back at school!
For some of you, it may have been 50 years since you were last in a classroom. For others, it was less than a few days ago. Whether you’re a toddler, teen or senior, you have many memories of being in a new grade, a new classroom, with a new teacher, perhaps even in a new school in a new part of town, or even in a different country if you were an ‘Armed Forces Brat’, an offspring of a foreign diplomat, or a child immigrant.
However, you can probably remember the oft-repeated topic of the first writing assignment, the warm-up to creative writing. It was invariably a thinly disguised variation of “What I Did This Summer”.
Of course neither sex, politics nor religion ever entered into your primary and junior grade essays. Starting at the intermediate grades, there were the beginnings of an awareness of sex, but there was a tacit understanding that sex was not acceptable fare for your early September essay.
Many of today’s secondary level English Composition 101 students have done enough field work in ‘Sexual Encounters 101’ during their summer holidays that they could probably write a full page raunchy essay, a torrid short story, and even a rather steamy novel, but they know that Mrs. S. Dour-Smith would find some way of giving it a failing grade, just on principle.
In the weekly columns I hope to be writing for the Seaway News, not only will I avoid the topic of sex, but I will also skirt any issues that deal with politics and religion. In my first meeting with Rick Shaver, general manager, we agreed that those matters are being covered ad nauseam by other columnists, other publications, and in radio and television.
What I as a column writer put to paper is greatly influenced by my childhood memories, the formal educational I’ve endured, my many summer jobs, my previous careers, the varied watershed events of my life and my most recent experiences, such as, you guessed it, “What I Did This Summer”.
Don’t worry, I won’t burden you with an essay on “What I Did This Summer” – not yet.
If you want erudite in-depth treatises on breaking news stories, you certainly don’t look for it in a weekly newspaper. As matter of fact, you’re unlikely to find that in this city’s daily paper either.
In my column, and in my other submissions to the Seaway News, I’ll try to share with you what I’ve learned about the people, places, things (and dogs and cats) of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, as found in its towns, villages, hamlets, farms and rural homes. From time to time I hope to be able to show you some of my pictures.
What I hope to accomplish is to continue what I tried to do in my earlier writings. As one of my former readers so touchingly put it, “Sometimes you made me laugh, sometimes you made me cry, but you always made me think”.