Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Clippery

The Oxford English Dictionary says there's no such word--clippery.  Yes there is.  I just made it up, sort of: There is a hair salon here in Hudson called The Clipperie (it's not a word, either.)

But my Clippery has nothing tonsorial about it--nothing save the scissors I use.  Let me explain ...

When I was a beginning teacher (fall 1966) and saw my first classroom (Rm 116, Aurora Middle School, 102 E. Garfield Rd.; Aurora, OH), I was both impressed and daunted by the space.  There were about twenty rectangular tables in there, two chairs (two hard chairs) with each table.  I had a little U. S. flag on a stick, a pull-down map of the Unites States, a pull-down screen, a large wooden desk (mine!), a PA speaker over one blackboard (which was green), a few bookshelves, and a file cabinet.

I went over to it.  Empty.  Just like the feeling I was having as I looked into it.

That first year I had nothing to pull from the file cabinet except air. And it wasn't much better the next year.  Making it worse: I had a  textbook my second year called The Uses of Language by Neil Postman and Howard C. Damon (Holt, Rinehart, 1967). The authors had settled on a narrative device to move the book along--the story of a kind of nerdy English teacher named Mr. Donahue and his interactions with his class at Ravenwood Junior High School.  (There were readings and assignments from Ravenwood that we in Aurora would emulate.)  Mr. Donahue was continually going to his files to withdraw some highly relevant documents that engaged his fascinated students in some absolutely perfect way.  As the year went on, I found myself more and more interested in punching Mr. Donahue in the face.

But I was also learning his lesson: file stuff you might want to use later.  And so I became increasingly like Mr. D. (as Benedick cries out in Much Ado: "There's a double meaning in that").

four in the Cabinet family
So I bought some file-folders and starting clipping and saving things.  And then I looked up one day.  It was forty-five years later, and I had six file cabinets full of stuff (some at home, some at school).  At last I was ready to teach!  The only problem: I was retiring.  And now I have cabinets out on the screened porch since there is no room in the inn for them.

And what, you ask, is in those cabinets?  Class handouts, files on just about every author who ever lived (jammed with clippings from newspapers and magazines), souvenirs from visits to museums and writers' homes (nothing stolen--I don't think), notes on books I've read, photocopies of every relevant document ever printed, postcards, brochures, DVDs, CDs, samples of student work, the kitchen sink ... you get the picture.

Now that I'm retired, I no longer clip, right?


The Dyer Clippery remains open, still working at full capacity, all employees (unpaid) still on the job.  Just today, I clipped some things from the New York Times that had appeared while we were gone--a note about a Philip Roth biography, a review of Christoper Hitchens' Mortality, some other clutter that we acquired on our recent sojourn in John O'Hara Land.

Why are you still clipping? you ask.

Because if I don't, I'll die is the simplest answer.

Ring Lardner(1885-1933)
(looking a little creepy)
I'm interested that the OED says that clipper was originally a sheep-shearer.  And so we have a family connection: a dyer was someone who dyed material (often wool).  And the second meaning of clipper--a hair-dresser or barber.  And I see in my little book The Uses of Language that among the literary selections Mr. Donahue assigns his students is a very famous tale by Ring Lardner, "Haircut."  It's a story you should read.  I have a copy in my files--but since you're not sitting in my classroom, I cannot impress you by walking to the cabinet and extracting a copy to show you.  So--read it online, the ultimate file drawer ..."Haircut," by Ring Lardner

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