Dawn Reader

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jack Schaefer & Harmon School (Back in the Day), 2

Okay, Memory is not the most reliable friend you have.

Last time I wrote that I'd started doing an elective on Westerns in the mid-1970s at the newly opened Harmon Middle School (1974-75 academic year).

And after I uploaded the post, I went to look for some files. I, as many of you know, am a Pack Rat, and I knew that somewhere in this Mess That Is My Life must be a file (some files?) I used when I was teaching about Shane and his coevals. (I've always liked the sound of that word, by the way; it means just your contemporaries, but I like the evil sound that accompanies it!)

In my file on Shane, located (alphabetically!) under Schaefer, Jack in one of my many drawers devoted to books and writers, And I found a few items, items which told a slightly different story than the one I'd offered before. One was his obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, an obit I'd clipped back in late January 1991, when he'd died. The obit clearly says that he was born in Cleveland and had graduated from Oberlin--both things I'd totally forgotten (as my post from Thursday can confirm).

I also found a New York Times obituary for actor Jack Palance, who first gained notice (in the Times' words) with "his serpentine portrayal of the nasty gunfighter Jack Wilson in the classic film 'Shane.'" Palance died on November 10, 2006, the day before my 62nd birthday. He was 87. (Link to the obit.)

I also found some kind of published handout about Shane from Films Incorporated. It notes that the film won some awards, including an Oscar for Cinematography.

But the best item I found? An old class handout--done on the old ditto machine at the Aurora Middle School (pre-Harmon)--which has at the top two dates: 1972-73; that date is crossed out in pencil, and 1973-74 is used. This shows that I used basically the same handout those two years. (And for those of you not fortunate enough to be alive in the pre-Xerox, pre-computer generation, this meant that I had to completely retype the handout for the second year.)

It's a handout dealing with the film. While they watched, students had to respond to a basic question at the top: From what the characters SAY and DO,what do you think they BELIEVE about the following issues:

And I have a list that includes four basic headings: Using Guns/Force, Using the Land, Bravery/Courage, Law and Order. I also have a couple of other questions at the bottom--

  • What was the role of women in the West (according to this film)?
  • Compare and contrast this film with the folk tales you've read. (How are they similar? Different?)
Apparently, we'd just finished a unit/topic on folk tales--which I also kind of remember.

As you can see from the (partial) image below, I scrawled some replies to those issues on my own copy. Example: Shane says to Marian (the homesteader's wife, who has just discovered he's adept with guns and has been showing them to her little boy): "A gun is a tool, Marian--no better or no worse than any other tool. A gun is as good or bad as the man using it." Sounds like a contemporary Facebook meme, doesn't it?


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