Rix Quinn’s Minute Stories: December 16, 2018

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I’d like to salute one of America’s greatest unsung heroes. His name was Sterl Artley, a famous reading teacher, who died in 1968.

He wrote wonderful stories about Dick and Jane. If you’re a Baby Boomer, or a Generation Xer, you may remember them. These kids had a dog named Spot, and a cat named Puff.

Mr. Artley’s simple stories began with basic words, gradually building children’s vocabulary and word recognition skills. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find Dick and Jane books anymore. Many educators chose to move on to different methods.

But I’ll always rememeber Dick and Jane, because they taught me to read. And they also taught me to keep building my vocabulary, and to treat my doggy and kitty friends well, too.

So sad. No more Dick and Jane. No more adventures, but many young reader friends.

See Rix cry. Can you say “Baby Boomers getting older?” Goodbye, Dick and Jane.

Goodbye, childhood. Hello, Arthur Ritus.

Old Sayings

Have you ever heard the saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?”

I thought about this the other day while chewing fried chicken. I don’t know what other birds are worth, but that drumstick cost me $1.19.

Seriously, the quote goes back to ancient times. Bird hunters reasoned that one bird already caught guaranteed dinner, while two birds uncaught (“in the bush”) meant more work, plus the possibility of failure.

Why did the hunters want those other fowl too? Maybe they expected guests for dinner, or maybe they wanted to see if birds in the heather flock together.

See, you never can tell what our silly prehistoric pals thought! Back then, they drew stuff on their walls and called it art.

Today we call it graffiti. But if somebody famous sketched it, we call either a “mural” or “wallpaper.”

The birdie saying is much like another one claiming, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” This means either (1) people always want what they can’t get, or (2) the neighbor buys better fertilizer.

What’s the lesson here? I’m guessing it’s this: “If you see two birds in a bush surrounded by green grass on the other side of a fence, don’t try to catch them, because they are probably in a zoo.”

Petrified Forests

Except for a few movie stars with good make-up, nobody’s older than a petrified forest. Some of these tree trunks are l50 million years old.

That’s over a billion in dog years…uh, I mean log years.

The trees got trapped in mud way back in prehistoric times, and couldn’t get out. Underground water got into their trunks, washing minerals through their pores. (I know this happens, because I’ve swum in underground water, and it got into my trunks, too.)

Anyway, water transports minerals. Over time, these minerals turn the trunks into stone. These buried logs, when uncovered, often lie stacked together.

None of them can stand up. But if you were dead, you couldn’t stand up either.

There they lie around our country, devoid of leaves and branches. They remind us that if you’re a stick-in-the-mud, you’ll miss lots of fun.

Also, you don’t want to go to a petrified forest to select a holiday tree. The rocklike wood might break your ax. And, they’re nearly impossible to decorate.

So remember the lesson of the petrified forest: Stand up as long as you can…and keep that underground water out of your trunks.

Rix Quinn’s Minute Stories is usually published every Saturday.

Rix Quinn is a former magazine publisher who works as an independent biographer and broadcaster.

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