You know you are getting old when grandchildren have no idea what you are talking about. There is so much history to learn that the history you have lived or learned did not make the talking points in today’s lesson at school.
This discovery started off with, “My favorite thing to do when I was twelve (and older) was to read the biographies of cowboys and Indians. No, I was not living during the 1800s, Grandson. But I read a lot about the Pony Express, the train robbers, and the Indians during that time period.”
“What is the Pony Express?” he asked. “It was like the mail carriers in the 1800s,” I explained to him.
“Train robbers might be interesting,” he replied.
Checking Google – I liked the stories about the robbers like Jesse James (September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) and Frank James (January 10, 1843 – February 18, 1915), cowboy outlaws from Missouri who robbed banks and trains. I also read about Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker – April 13, 1866 – November 7, 1908), and the Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh – 1867 – November 7, 1908), who were part of the Wild Bunch that robbed trains and banks. Richard Zanuck and 20th Century Fox made a very popular movie about them called “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman in 1969.
“Did you see the movie?” I asked. “I was born in 1993,” he replied. “It is on Netflix,” I told him.
Checking Google – How about Roy Rogers? Roy Rogers (Leonard Franklin Slye – November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998) was a very popular cowboy actor and singer. I watched all the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans shows as a kid. Trigger, Roy’s horse, was the best part.
“Nope,” he said.
Checking Google – I read all the Indian biographies too. People like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. “I Will Fight No More Forever” is the name given to the speech made by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce on October 5, 1877, when the Nez Perce were forced to surrender to Colonel Nelson Miles and General O. O. Howard after the Battle of the Bear Paw Mountains. The battle strategies used by Chief Joseph and Geronimo are taught in military classrooms today.
“Surely, you know who Geronimo was!” I said. “Nope,” he replied.
Checking Google – Geronimo (Goyathlay – “one who yawns”) of the Chiricahua Apache, was born in 1829 in what is today western New Mexico, but was then still Mexican territory. Geronimo was the leader of the last American Indian fighting force formally to capitulate to the United States. Because he fought against such overwhelming odds and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all.
“Don’t you learn this in school?” I asked him. “There is too much history so we only learn the new stuff – like Vietnam,” he told me. “Okay,” I said. “You know you can read this stuff on your own.” “I’ll just let you tell me about,” he said.
Kids these days!
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262