Saturday, April 26, 2014

Abating the Transmission

Sitting at the bar at the Lamar Lounge with Derrick Harriell yesterday, talking about Joe Louis because Derrick wrote a whole series of poems about the man, and I suddenly remembered that we studied Joe Louis in 4th grade Alabama history. Here is what I remember about 4th grade Alabama history. We studied the notable people of Alabama, who apparently were Helen Keller, Joe Louis, George Washington Carver and William Crawford Gorgas. Yesterday, talking to Derrick, I couldn't definitively remember anything about William Crawford Gorgas except his name, or so I thought. I told Derrick "I think he did something with yellow fever or malaria." Well, I looked him up on wikipedia today and it turns out he is known for "abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria" at the Panama Canal. So I guess 4th grade history really stuck! Way to go, Ms. Matthews! The main thing I remember about my 4th grade teacher Ms. Matthews (I think we were still saying "Miss Matthews" not "Ms." then, but in Alabama it sounds like "Miz" either way) is that she loved the Miami Dolphins and talked about them all the time. All she did was talk about how much she loved Larry Csonka. And William Crawford Gorgas, I guess. Also, I guess she was the first teacher I had a crush on. The previous ones (except Polly Cherry, my happily named kindergarten teacher) were comforting and grandmotherly, but hardly crush material. Wow, this is self-indulgent. Well, you're reading a "blog" so I don't feel sorry for you. This "post" is really only for Hogan, who loves all 4th grade memories of everyone thanks in part to the noble influence of Lynda Barry. The other thing I recall (I'm pretty sure) from 4th grade Alabama history is these lyrics - and almost no others - of the Alabama state song: "Fair thy Coosa, Tallapoosa." Ha ha! Sounds dirty (though I never would have thought that at the time). But it is a paean to rivers, like FINNEGANS WAKE. I believe the state song also has a line about orange trees, which always confused me. Does Alabama have a lot of orange trees? I loved singing "Fair thy Coosa, Tallapoosa," but always felt ambivalent at best when I got to the part about orange trees (if that part actually exists). There's an Alabama town named Satsuma, which is also a kind of citrus fruit.