Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stan The Man

Stan The Man
Stan "The Man" Musial died last weekend at the ripe old age of 92. Anyone my age or older knows who Stan Musial was - one of the greatest ballplayers of his time. He played for The St. Louis Cardinals his whole 22 year long career. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a nice little piece in the Op-Ed pages about  him. I was thirteen when Musial retired but like every other kid in America at that time, my formative years were the era of Stan Musial. The Cards and the Cubs had a fairly strong rivalry back then, as they still do today, so when the Cards came to town, you were going to hear about Stan Musial in the papers, on the radio and on television. I even had a copy of Stan Musial's hit record. - pretty sure I've still got it around here somewhere, in fact. Like many others, I was a fan even it did mean the home team was in trouble when the Cards came to town.

When my wife and I took our first big vacation after getting married when went to St. Louis. Not sure why now. It was summer and hot and humid. Miserable hot, but we went to Stan & Biggies restaurant while we were there. At that time it was the nicest restaurant I'd ever been in. Valet parking, waiter with the towel over the arm - the whole enchilada. Actually, more like lasagna but you get the point. Stan The Man and his pal Biggie ran a nice joint.

I'm not sure how, but apparently my respect and admiration of Musial must have rubbed off on my son, Surly. One year I got a framed photograph of Musial for Christmas from him. It's a classic baseball photo. Black and white, of course. Musial kneeling in the on deck circle with the bat over his shoulder. I also ended up with a Cardinal jersey recently with Musial's name and number on the back from Surly. He said it was too big for him and I'm sure he knew that I'd wear it with pride.

Coincidentally, or maybe not so, The Wall Street Journal yesterday also had another Op-Ed piece titled "Lance Armstrong and Our Unheroic Age" by Warren Kozak. I'm assuming from the article that Mr. Kozak and I are about the same age and he mentions growing up in the Midwest, as did I, so I'd be willing to bet that he too is a Stan Musial fan. But those days are gone:

Consider the past two weeks in sports. Lance Armstrong has gone from cancer-stricken superman on two wheels to performance-enhancing confessor on Oprah. And for the first time in 40 years, voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame elected not a single player. The steroid scandals apparently did in the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons.

Forget about athletes as role models. It would just be nice if there were more fathers in the house.

Today, out-of-wedlock births in America surpass 40%. In some quarters, this fact is not even lamented. But when the father is missing because he has left or was never there in the first place, a boy will fill that vacuum with whomever his young mind can latch on to. The hero possibilities these days give boys - and girls, for that matter - some pretty bleak choices to fill the void.
My Old Man
I was extremely fortunate in that I did grow up with decent role models, the guy in the above photo being the primary one. That's my Pop. Another member of the Greatest Generation, like several of my neighbors and uncles. Guys that came home from the war and went about their business of finding jobs, raising families and doing what life demanded of them. They were all leading by example but I'm sure they didn't even think about that. Just doing what a man was expected to do.

Having seen all kinds come and go during my 36 years in the high school classroom, I'm now starting to see certain patterns at the college level that are most certainly a direct result of the parenting skills, or lack there of, at this higher level. Not much of a surprise, high school kids get older, after all.

I keep tossing around the idea of writing something a little more in depth than just this blog and there are only two things that I would consider myself an authority on, welding and education. So if I were to decide to write some big-ass tome on education, would it all ultimately boil down to the fact there just aren't any more Stan Musials out there? That everything would be Jake if every kid had a kind and loving mom and pop to come home to every day after school? Could it really be that simple? If that's the answer, then is the solution impossible? Damn.

Rest in Peace, Stan. You too Pop.


Traveling Pirate said...

I made a brilliant several paragraph comment on this. Then Blogger had an error and it disappeared. You can probably guess the drift of what I said. Blah blah poverty blah blah importance of education blah blah Scandinavia does it right blah blah Italy.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

Sorry I didn't get a chance to see your brilliant and insightful commentary. I had a hell of a time with Blogger while trying to write the thing.

My question about all of this is can education cure what ails society or does society need to be fixed before we can expect education to be successful? I'm from the camp that thinks education can do most anything, properly applied, but that's the rub.

You mentioned Italy - we need to set a date.

Traveling Pirate said...

The problems with education in this country seem to come in two groups. One is the perceived problems of those who never set foot in schools. The second are the problems as viewed by educators. I don't think it's possible to address the first group of problems because I don't believe they necessarily exist. The second group of problems has solutions that are simple but not necessarily easy to enact.

If they made me Queen of Education, I'd promulgate the following to resolve the issues of both society and education:

1. Assume the folks who know the most about educating students are the ones who spend the most time educating students. As distance from the educational process increases, in general knowledge of that process decreases.

2. Attempt to eliminate generational poverty through equitable access for all to pre-school through post-secondary education.

3. Fully fund public education.

4. Just let the teachers teach.

I did my best teaching when I was left alone. I did my most uninspired teaching when The Man was breathing down my back.

And there you have it. The curing of what ails the world in 4 easy steps. So to answer your question, I think education is the cure for what ails society and you cannot fix society through any other means.

Traveling Pirate said...

As I post script, I forgot to edit before I posted. Item 1 should read *a general knowledge. And The Man was breathing down my neck not back. Oh what a long day! I was out the door at 6:30 this morning and am no longer functioning at optimum levels.