Sunday, July 22, 2012

It it's Sunday, we are Smiling!

Sunday.  The day of rest.  We could smell Maine in the sunrise and it was time to get moving.  Again, we snuck out in the wee hours without waking our hosts.  We hit our first Dunkin Donuts and headed for the ferry.  I wish we could have put our car on a ferry back in Waldport and traveled the whole way on the water.  We were the first ones in line and it wasn’t long before we were wheeling on the water to Vermont.  We took photos and laughed and ate donuts on the too-short ride to the other shore. 

You know you’re in Vermont when folk music is playing on the radio.  “What would Woody do?” was a new song for me, but since the trip began with me humming Woody’s “Roll on Columbia,” somehow it made sense and soon I was singing along.  I recently submitted an essay about Woody and salmon and dams.  “He had songs written on the soles of his shoes,” they said.  Indeed, he did.

Recently in Oregon after months of passionate debate about tolerance and tradition, the Board of Education voted to crack down on racism by banning the use of Native American lingo in high schools, leading the nation by flexing the biggest muscles against school mascots, nicknames and logos.  Critics say Indian mascots are racist, reinforcing stereotypes and promoting the bullying of Native students. Supporters say the mascots are intended as tributes and a way to honor Native American history by evoking values of strength and bravery. Eight high schools and an unknown number of elementary and middle schools have five years to use their dwindling funds change their names and logos, some of which have been used for almost 100 years now.  If they don’t comply, they risk losing their state funding.  But at the rate that is declining, some might want to do a little cost:benefit analysis on that one.  

So, just who are these bully promoters and what are their politically incorrect names?  Banks and Reedsport, “we are the Braves, the mighty, mighty, Braves.”  Mohawk, Molalla, Roseburg, and Scappoose, “we are the Indians.”  The Rogue River Chieftains and the Dalles-Wahtonka High Eagle Indians.  That’s it.  The Braves, the Indians, the Chieftains, and the Eagle Indians.  These eight will just have to find a more peaceful, PC name.  Like the squirrels.  Or the turtles.  Or the Warriors?

Because, believe it or not, the board in its infinite wisdom saw fit to determine that the name “Warriors,” which is used by seven other high schools in the Beaver State, is NOT racist and does NOT reinforce stereotypes or promote bullying.  Amity, Lebanon, North Douglas, Oakridge, Philomath, Siletz, and Warrenton all dodged the bullet and will be allowed to remain “the mighty, mighty Warriors,” except they must change their logos and mascots if they depict Native Americans.  I was personally relieved to see Siletz on this list, since they are our neighbors back home in Waldport.  Waldport, incidentally, is the home of the Fighting Irish until someone named Paddy gets a wild hair about that one.  Siletz High School is actually located on a Native American reservation and my kids and I have attended powwows in their gym where everyone simply danced together.  As a soverign nation, I think they should be allowed to judge for themselves whether or not their mascot incited any bullying of, well, themselves.  

So, we can all rest a bit easier thanks to the Oregon Board of Education.  No longer will Banks High School be singing its own local twist of the national anthem at its school sporting events, signing off with “Land of the free, and home of the Braves!”  Somehow Lake Monsters just doesn’t have the same ring.  And this would be a likely spot for me to sing you the high school cheer that Andy’s Mom, aged 97, used to sing which began, “Niggah, niggah, hoe potato,” and ended, “Golva High School, rah, rah, rah.”  But I won’t.

We continued along back country roads all the way across the Green Mountains into the White Mountains, passing places like the InjunJoe Inn and the Mooselook Restaurant.  Lucky for them, these places are tucked way away in the mountains, beyond the reach of the Oregon Board of Education, which I like to visualize like the Eye of Sauron.  Speaking of which, I’ve been looking for a moose for 50 years now and even though we passed countless signs promising, “Moose Crossing,” they failed to do so.  In East Concord, NH we passed Oregon Road.  Which reminded me of the Cape Cod Cottages back home in Oregon.  It seems we Americans take our places along with us for the ride.

As we neared Gorham, NH, I recognized many of the trailheads and peaks I’d climbed over the years and it began to look like home.  We passed through the Shelburne White Birch forest and from there I was on autopilot.  I knew these roads.  We sped along until the white spire of the Wayne church pointed into the blue sky, the church where we were married and our sons were buried.  Turning down Lord Road, the tree branches bent their welcome.  After 3,000 miles, the familiar faces of family and friends waited to greet us.  We’d arrived.  We were home. 

Here I’ll swim across the lake waters I was born in.  I’ll cook fresh peas and corn.  We’ll take the boat to the General Store for candy or to Tubby’s for ice cream.  And then I’ll fly back to Oregon, load up a moving van with Andy, and in another month I’ll do it all over again.  Because we’re moving back to Rhode Island, to our house on Mohawk Drive.  Or at least that’s what it was when we left it.  Perhaps they’ve changed it to Warrior Way.


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