15 September 2015

My Note: WRA, Class of '69

© Western Reserve Academy/115 College St./Hudson, OH.
The past 7 years have been tough and my WRA preparation has served me well. The last 7 years have been tough and my WRA preparation hardly served at all. I was a child of two alcoholics, one of whom was an adult overseer for General Motors. Now I’m an adult child of two alcoholics. I’ve tried to live into my parent’s gift of my WRA education. I graduated 46th(?) out of 60 or 61 classmates. I wasnt a scholar. I wasnt an athlete. I wasnt a civic/school leader. I practiced photography and Bill Moos was my finest teacher. “Damn it, Billy! This, simply, will not do!” I was one of 2 or 3 people never profiled in The Record. I don’t grasp why I’d be of any interest today. Except, I’m not too proud to scrounge and I’m a survivor.
I’m the bio-dad of 2 children. My son, Townsend Collins is married to Jennifer Howard, of Knoxville, TN. I’m “Papa Bill” to 1 grandchild, Townsend Savage Collins, Jr. Jennifer is an inner city elementary teacher and Townsend sorts statistics to 6-sygma and helps create financial formulas for municipal clients. They live in Charlotte, NC. My daughter, Caroline Collins, practices as a missionary and caregiver. She’s just returned from 3 months outside of Accra, Ghana, serving over 50 Ghanaian orphan children ages 6 months through 15 years. She seems called to a missionary tradition, which would descend from my mother’s family. So maybe, just now, my biological imperative is fulfilled.
For the last 6 years I labored as the owner-operator of a boutique lawn care service, 1Man/1Mower. I pushed. I did not ride. At first I scrounged customers then later on customers came by referral only. For the last 2 years I’ve lived into Meniere’s Disease. I decided, due to it, I’d be wise to concentrate on removing sodium from my diet. I miss my mowing occupation and all it entailed and what was a small income. I especially miss my customers all of whom I grew to know well.
My second partner Angie, and her people, are of upper East Tennessee. She’s still employed, so we’re fortunate to have health insurance via East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. I’m now of little productive financial use except by what I’ve paid into the public trough and it pays out in return. The Great Recession gutted my invested resources. This summer I disassembled and removed the original 75-year old HVAC system from our house. Charlie Feldman would be proud. WRA didn’t prepare me for that; his curriculum was axed. WRA did prepare me for saving $10,000 as the fruit of my labor.
Knoxville, TN is as good a town as I’d need. I really couldn’t imagine living in some West Indian gin & tonic or margarita tropics or traipsing a golf course chasing a small white whacked ball so to putt into a little hole. I look forward to visiting my grandchild(ren?), reading, Smoky Mountain hiking, practicing anarchist calisthenics, Taoist Tai Chi, choral singing, contemplative prayer, and cultivating any remaining genetic health I’m blessed with. And, VOL-Nation rocks, despite, just yesterday, losing a heart-breaker to some Sooners.

I believe every private elementary and secondary school student be required learn cursive, to practice a computer programming language, be introduced to statistics & statistical analysis, and daily labor outdoors in a dirt field cultivating a crop, in all seasons, sown by each student’s hand. Physical education as currently practiced and presented is approaching useful irrelevance. Instead current practice serves as social and economic class markers and secret signals to those who already know them and puts off everyone else. Professional athletics as recreational model or business aspiration is outdated. It enables personal and cultural physical passivity. As a business model it’s a government-sanctioned plantation for wealth transfer to 3-comma owner-oligarchs. The Cleveland Browns owner is a Knoxvillian; their family operates consumer gas markets; cash is king and “their” cash bought the Browns.
My 2016 presidential election agenda for America is tackling income inequality and college debt and overly complex taxation and cyber security and broken equity markets; Mark Cuban might speak to those public policy concerns. I know, I know, as a practical matter, and as a sort of fuddy-duddy analog civic remnant, I put out a yard sign for a local office seeker and I vote. Do any of you vote, or do you pay-2-play, or just ignore the whole mess?
And finally, I’m straight. I believe all WRA taught me through my 4 years is now perceived as “gay culture” and, more importantly, is believed, by the vast majority beyond the private archetypal WRA grounds, as really being “gay culture.” I feel this as sadness. It seems like civic codifications based upon genetic genitalia outcomes, and civic suppression based upon genetic skin color, and civic nullification of individual religious and spiritual and secular cultural practices are paramount. It ain’t no thing. Really? Ahem… only if your cash is king so to live on private grounds behind private walls. From time to time I miss Bill Moos bellowing, “Damn it, Billy! This simply will not do!”