A Standing Ovation!

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were talking about a five-day, four-night school trip with 38 7th graders (yes, you read that right!) she had just returned from. It was designed as a “civil rights” learning module, which took them to Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. They visited places like the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, the Legacy Museum, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the 16th Street Baptist Church, just to name a few of the important landmarks of the civil rights movement.

Later that evening, I was thinking about when I was a 7th grader, way back in the day (1963/64 to be exact), and what it might have been like back then to embark on such a trip. Of course, this would never have happened, as I was attending a public school, as opposed to the private school my wife teaches at. The conversation we had about her trip did, however, remind me of a school trip I did go on when I was in 10th grade (1966/67) as part of our history curriculum for that year. There were no airports, planes, or hotels, just a 125 mile bus ride from Montreal to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, to visit and take part in a session of the House of Commons (HoC), the US equivalent being the House of Representatives. This trip had all been pre-arranged by the school and the HoC representative from the same district our school was in, as he was scheduled to make some sort of special announcement regarding education; at least that is what I remember it being about and why we were there, as it was 57 years ago, not to mention that I was 16 and not exactly a history buff at the time! And while I may not remember the specifics of why we were there, I certainly remember what happened that day once not long after we were seated in the chamber, which you can see in the picture above. As we filed in to take our seats, we got a “special” welcome from our “guy,” but from the looks on the faces of the other House members in attendance, we seemed to be the only ones who cared!

We had been listening to some procedural instructions, when a House member stood up to take the floor and began this rather lengthy rant about which I remember absolutely nothing, except for the fact that he went on and on and on and…You get the picture. When he was finally done, our “guy” bolted out of his seat and started to chastise the previous speaker for his “ridiculous” speech and the “message” it was imparting to the “youngsters” (a word which immediately tells you that this was a long time ago!) in attendance that day. After hearing this, our entire group jolted out of our previous semi-conscious state that we had all been in while that “other” guy was talking, realizing that we were now being identified as a bunch of kids who somehow couldn’t figure out for ourselves that the previous speaker was full of shit! And we did what any group of impressionable teens would do when someone was championing our cause; we jumped out of our seats and started hooting and clapping vigorously. Big mistake!

For some reason, nobody had taken it upon themselves to inform a bunch of hyperactive 16 year-olds of the rules and regulations for being in the HoC, because we had collectively broken one of the most sacred rules of the House: That clapping/applauding of any kind is absolutely forbidden! Our bad. I am, of course, in no way suggesting that even if we had been informed of that rule, we would have abstained from applauding; probably not as “our” guy was putting himself out there for us, but in this case, it was too late to even test that theory! Almost immediately after we sprang up and started clapping, a hoard of security guards were seen tripping over themselves trying to reach us. They were waving their arms frantically and shaking their heads from side to side, which unbeknownst to us was the universal sign for stop clapping. When we looked down at the floor of the chamber, we saw looks of horror on many of the member’s faces, except for our “guy” who was laughing his ass off! I liked him immediately.

The coda to this story is that we made the six o’clock news, and a few days later there was a piece in the local paper about the incident. That is one clipping that I wished I had saved!

Los Angeles 2023

5 thoughts on “A Standing Ovation!

  1. The Ottawa trip was a gift of geography back in the day, a bit too far from London, ON for a day trip. It was typically a highschooler trip with Montreal and or Quebec City to make in a multi day with chaperoned hotel stays, a teachers worst nightmare I’d imagine. That’s a great story and I can only imagine the horror on their faces, too funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, a bit long for a day trip for sure. The worst nightmare! Thinking back it was pretty damn funny. I woke up this morning to a text from one of my buddies in Montreal that I’ve known for 60 years telling me that he has that clipping! Stay tuned for an update.

      Liked by 1 person

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