Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Great Cartoon


It’s remarkable that a man who can’t keep track of his glasses and forgets to shut the garage door can virtually “hear” the remarks of a civics teacher 61 years ago. As I was reminded by a reader in Arizona of a movie short from the past, I could see Tony Toft standing before that class and telling us to go to the show on Saturday night. That normally serious teacher was not prone to frivolous suggestions so we paid attention and dutifully attended with our dates.

Before we proceed, a word about Mr. Toft. In a small high school in Iowa, he taught history, government and math with a no-nonsense attitude attributable to his experience in the skies over Europe a half decade before. He flew 57 missions in a Mitchell (B-25) as a navigator. Happily he matched his 57 takeoffs with 57 successful landings. He carried the seriousness of that endeavor into the classroom and held the absolute respect of each member. The information didn’t come from his lips but from other reliable sources. For a class of 4 interested boys he obtained permission for an extension of the math curriculum to include additional courses in advanced algebra, trigonometry and finally introductory calculus past the normal study guide. He also took his history and civics seriously and inspired each student to do the same.

I shall be forever grateful to that cadre of dedicated and talented faculty. To a person, they were far more concentrated on encouraging us to learn the skills required to enhance our knowledge than just the particular subjects of their classes. They did a superlative job with even the least able to keep up, and constantly challenged those with a larger capacity for learning. We had no counselors, hall monitors, diversity departments, lunch program, or guidance department. We had teachers. Even those responsible for coaching athletic programs also taught various subjects to the general student population. The only non-classroom personnel were the principal and the secretary in the office. I do not recall any student running afoul of the law during the six years I attended.

This was the atmosphere that prevailed when Tony Toft told us to go to the movies that Saturday night. I have long since forgotten the name of the feature film but that short cartoon trailer has remained. For its age, it is surprisingly well done. Click on this link and see it for yourself. I’m sure you will agree that although somewhat dated, it is right on the money and as appropriate for America today as it was 61 years ago. It has much in common with our founding documents in that regard.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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