18 February 2010

Secretary

I liked shop. I got really good grades in shop; aka, "industrial arts." I got mediocre grades in other academic subjects; I excelled in shop. Industrial arts linked an academic narrative with hands-on learning to a machine I could manipulate and produce an object that help the prospect for use and admiration. Shop was a requirement for males, just as home economics was for females, in the public junior and senior high school system in the '50's and early '60's of Oakwood, OH. Oakwood was a suburban up-scale town just outside of Dayton, OH.
My parents, especially my father was enraged at my puny grades in math, grammar, writing, and reading. My mother and father had alcohol-fueled physical arguments over my performance. Conversely he couldn't abide that I excelled in industrial arts. Their response was to 1.) label me, I call it a branding; 2.) sequester me to three years, fall, spring, summer, and winter, of remedial private schooling, mostly out of the home; 3.) to see I learned to type on the now old-school Smith-Corona typewriters.
I learned to type in the 7th grade. I was the only male in a class of females, maybe 20 to 25 of us. I picked it up quickly; did well. A personal typewriter, mine was the Olivetti Lettera 22 portable, was the reward in my family, which is to say I was never rewarded with a hammer, pliers, or a saw for my excellence.
This item, "Why Househusbands Are the Future" appeared in the N.Y. Times recently,
"We both agree that we're moving into uncharted waters on the family front. Maybe it'll turn out that working class young men can adapt to the changing economy, which no longer values their physical strength, and learn to become secretaries." - Gail Collins

Our culture and economy has been moving into these "uncharted waters" and the "changing economy" for decades. I worked as a secretary for many of my productive working years. Did well enough. Now I mow lawns and try to figure out how to sharpen the mower's blade.
And I type too.

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