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The jokes that life plays on people

The jokes that life plays on people


The lowest grade that I ever made in high school was a D in typing.  The lowest grade I ever made in architecture was a D in Architectural Graphics – Water Color Rendering.   This class involved the use of a branch of geometry now made obsolete by the computer.  We were then taught how to paint that penciled image with water colors.  It was a useless 3 hour class because very few architects did water color renderings once they were in the working world.  Professional artists were hired to do such things . . . but the computer has made that skill obsolete also.  Graduate school doesn’t count, because I only made one B and that ain’t particularly shabby. 

So how do I spend my days in 2018?  I spend endless hours, typing at a computer keyboard, either to write articles or to create three dimensional color renderings of buildings and ancient towns.   Who would have ever thought?

And now the rest of the story

I really was a C typing student, but hell have no fury as a hot-blooded Business Education teacher, whose kinky desires are thwarted.  Mrs. P (the blond head of the Business Education Department) and Mrs. B (the brunette head of the Science Department) were both married and 32 years old.  They liked to give parties for the seniors on the undefeated football team.  Being 17, I thought such things were cool, but also thought it was strange that no juniors were invited to the parties, even if they were on the first string squad.   We didn’t think about such things as “legal age of consent,” when that age.

Ms. P taught me how to French kiss and Ms. B taught me how to ear kiss. You see back then as the laws were enforced, no one was arrested when a female teacher messed around with male students over 16, but male teachers were merely transferred if they messed around with female students over 16.   Under 16?  Male teachers would be fired and female teachers transferred.  We were only vaguely aware that same gender attractions even existed.

I knew that after each party at Mrs. P’s house, one or two of the guys would be asked to hang around and help clean up.   Ms. P’s husband was gone all the time as a traveling salesman – even on weekends. Most likely, he was with his own girlfriend or boyfriend. However, after one party it came my turn to help clean up and I quickly realized that Mrs. P had other things in mind other than emptying the garbage. Even though Ms. P strongly resembled Cameron Diaz in Hollywood’s “Bad Teacher, ” I panicked and quickly left . . . stating that I didn’t want to cheat on my girlfriend, who was a cheerleader.  Actually, I was totally inexperienced in that activity and didn’t want to appear inept before an older, experienced woman. My girlfriend and I both still had “Learners Licenses” when it came to such matters.

Mrs. P never forgave me for the insult of preferring a younger woman . . . not knowing that I was in reality, just a chicken.  She gave me a D that quarter and gave a team mate, who was a much worse typist than me, a B.   He often helped her clean up after parties.  Of course, that is exactly the reason that most states now punish severely any teacher who messes around with a student . . . of any age.

The architectural graphics class was a little different situation.   I never had any contact with the professor outside of the classroom.  She was extremely masculine and on the national board of directors of NOW (The National Organization for Women).  I had made an A in the previous course in which we created three dimensional perspectives with black ink and ink wash,  but was a rather a mediocre painter.  The best you could say was that I was a C+ water colorist.  However, it didn’t matter.  This professor graded inversely on level of masculinity.  The sole female student and a guy, who liked to dress in women’s clothes got A’s.  A few guys got B’s, but everyone else got either a C or a D.  None of the people, who received an A or a B graduated in architecture.  They couldn’t pass the physics and structural engineering classes. 

It didn’t matter.  I never picked up a water color brush after my fourth year at Georgia Tech.  The non-text part of my thesis was a massive take-apart model of the downtown of a planned city, plus a color slide show . . . the pre-computer equivalent to a modern day Power Point presentation. I got an A.

What happened to Mrs P?

For another year, Mrs. P continued to practice her broader definition of young men’s education then the following year, she fell in love with the 16 year old African-American star of that year’s football team.   She quickly divorced her invisible husband and began wearing the student athlete’s senior ring.   They would “make out” and kiss in the hallway before home room each morning. Students thought it was hilarious.   Fellow faculty members thought it was weird, but it dawned on no one that the on-going reality show was illegal, since he had always been at least the age of consent and she was now single. 

However, the rules about pregnant female students then kicked in.  By spring quarter, she was “showing” with his baby.   Female students, who were visibly pregnant or married, could not attend regular high schools in Fulton County.  She was required to take a maternal leave of absence and then was transferred to another school the next year.   So his senior year, when he led the team to another state championship, there was Mrs. P with their baby, sitting up in the stands with his family,  loyally cheering her boyfriend, half her age, on to victory.  They married soon after he graduated.  I can’t imagine the marriage lasting very long, but who knows?

I guess the lesson learned from these experiences was that what seems terribly important when you are young, such as the grade made in a seemingly useless class, may not be significant at all in adulthood . . . or may become the principal activity of your life.  Just do the best you can always and wait to see how your tapestry of life unfolds.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    I passed high school math with a D- average because teachers then did not know-or care-how to deal with those of us who really ‘did not get it’; because their teaching methods would never be flawed, I was punished at school and beaten at home for “not paying attention”; code words for parents who didn’t get it either. I grew up hating math teachers but I also developed a knack for developing INDIVIDUAL lesson plans for EACH student in my classes-too much work for the mainstream, but it comes natural for me + I have never called a student “stupid” or punished them for “not getting it…”
    As to the other, because they are all dead now, I can tell this story. The Superintendent of Education for our county, a former failed football coach, began dating a hot, young, single, just starting out teacher. When his wife complained openly in church-the TEACHER was fired and he was “forgiven.” Her career was ruined, his was not affected-things were different in the 60s-70s.
    When I returned from my tour of combat in the early 70s, I enrolled in college in California where I was older than the average student and had a far different life experience-as such I did, at times, date some of my professors-because it was California I must add-female professors. I think this type of thing now may be “unprofessional”?
    Your article brings back old memories…..

    • Yes it does! I had very few female professors. The only one who was not 20-30 years older than me was Turkish and taught French. Well, she was supposed to teach French. Instead, she spent much of the time trying to convert us to Islam.


    As a special education teacher, I can’t imagine having that type of relationship with my students! And I was such a dumb, naive, nerd in the 70s, I never noticed what teachers were doing outside the classroom walls. My nose was in books and if I had spare time I was practicing my violin. I had a lot of male teachers, so I’m grateful they were good, honorable men! College was a different story…

    • Most of us at that high school were just as naive. Illegal drugs had not yet reached the high schools.


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