Archive for November 2011
On Thursday, December 15, the fifth grade will visit the Bestiality Museum in Weehawken. This exciting opportunity to enhance the children’s classroom learning will give them hands-on experience in applying what they have learned to the problems of today – and in the presence of some of the most important contemporary personalities in bestiality.
As you know, this year’s integrative curriculum includes a focus on evolutionary biology, through multiple lenses. Our previous trip, in early November, took the children on a riveting journey through the myriad ways in which creatures engage in reproductive activity. Because the feedback from that outing to the Short Hills BDSM Museum proved so hearteningly plentiful, for this month’s trip we selected another venue guaranteed to offer impressionable young minds a broadening experience, while at the same time making the subject relevant to everyday life. Our success in accomplishing the latter is evident from the parental involvement and interest in these trips.
Speaking of parental involvement, we still need two parental chaperones to accompany the students. Eleanor Jacobs, Stuart’s mother, generously offered her time for the last two trips, and we must also thank her for using her inside connections at the BDSM Museum to get the school a steep discount. This time, however, Mrs. Jacobs has a prior engagement, and we need another parent to step into her boots. We need a second volunteer, as well, as this year’s fifth grade class has seventy students. Interested parents, please contact school secretary Geraldine Ferraro.
The January and February trips still require some finalization, but we intend to take the students to the chemical weapons testing facility in Woodbridge and a mortuary, either in Jersey City or Newark. If you can let us know this far in advance whether you can serve as chaperone on one of those outings, please do so.
We welcome your continued feedback. Nothing says you care about your children’s education as much as when you let us know what you think.
Principal, Mahwah Central Grammar School
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I’ve given you all the wrong idea recently: in fact I know little or nothing about graphics and flow charts. So today we’ll depart entirely from snark and cynicism, just to remind my eleven or so regular readers that the
genius monster doofus behind Mightier than the Pen’s trenchant social commentary can play the straight man, too. As in straight vs. funny, not straight vs. gay. Stop confusing me. Where was I?
Believe it or not, I was in Poland. Not I, personally, but that’s where my ancestry reaches. I mean the subject matter was in Poland, I just hadn’t told you yet. I’ve never been to Poland, nor do I wish to go. I’d rather not tread on the soil that swallowed up so much of my family between 1939 and 1945. Lest you think we’re discussing death and destruction: quite the opposite. This is a tale of redemption, of life beyond death, and every word of it is factual.
I’d always been under the impression that my great-grandparents died before, or were murdered during, the Second World War. My father’s parents came from large families, but emerged from that Hell with only one surviving sibling each. My mother’s family was a bit less unfortunate: each of her parents still had two siblings once the horrors ceased. The German Einsatzgruppen took care of the rest in the forests and fields of Poland and Lithuania. Perhaps some of my great aunts and uncles met their ends at Belzec or Sobibor; no one knows for sure. And my great-grandparents were already past their primes when the war broke out – there was no way the Nazis and their local collaborators would deign to keep them alive long enough even to squeeze a bit of work out of them before consigning them to the gas chamber or machine gun.
Or so I thought. My mother recently attended the funeral of her uncle, who married my grandfather’s sister and raised a family in Detroit and Los Angeles. Discussing the family history with me a couple of weeks ago, she shared a fact previously unknown to anyone in our nuclear family: her mother’s father actually survived the war. He died in 1951, and is buried but a forty-minute drive from my house.
Naturally this new information breathes life into a moribund family connection, and raises a slew of questions I’m not sure anyone can answer with certainty: how did he survive? In hiding? With local Resistance movements? By some other miracle? How much did he tell his remaining children, two of whom lived within half an hour of him? What do the grandchildren – I don’t think there are any great-grandchildren from those branches of the family – know about him? How did they end up here?
We’ll end the musings here, but not without noting that it’s not everyday one discovers a redrawing of the family tree. Me, I’m doing my part to make up the Nazi-perpetrated deficit: our fifth kid was born a week ago this evening. Five down, 5,999,995 to go.