Inflicted Deception……..#51 (the 50’s)

Mr. Larry Darling

Gary experiencing a hundred and eighty degree difference between first semester english teacher Larry Darling and second semester english teacher Marian Petray.  “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.  Sir Walter Scott  assertiveness didn’t have high school studies or homework in mind when he penned the famous quote.  The circumstance that occurred in the second semester weren’t drafted as a plot to  deceive, but more of a happenstance,  because deception is planned and calculated or so thought the fifteen year old Castlemont High student.   A convenience was a more descriptive designation of why this had transpired.   With high school studies,  assigned homework,  the pursuit of employment,  a growing list of priorities confronted him, This event made Gary realizing  it was time to organize his activities.

Mr. Darling’s english class besides being his first period and home room  was unlike any class the young man had yet experience.   Mr. Darling was also Castlemonts drama  instructor, his classroom being a stage and the students all having walk on parts.   The Instructor was very demonstrative in class subject matter and presentations, one could find the same small elite group of students participating in class discussion and response, Gary having a suspicion they were all auditioning for future drama parts.   The English assignments were always brief, involving  little or no homework.  The teen attributing the assignment leniency to Mr. Darling’s overwhelming commitment to the drama department.  Gary’s optimism concerning Mr. Darlings class was not underestimated,  it was more of a drama class,  with readings of literature and actual drama enactments rather than productive english grammar instruction,  all to the delight of the students.

10th grade required reading..

10th grade required reading..

The second semester of english discovering Mrs. Petray  class a totally different portrayal of studies.  Gary having noted from his friends Hank and Don about the reputable Mrs. Petray and this very thick,  boring, classic literature novel assigned as required reading and discussion for her class.   When  handed the book, Gary was astonished, A Tale  Of  Two Cities by  Charles Dickens, the  classic that frequented Mrs. Funnells bookcase in his 9th grade junior high Latin Class.   Gary, during latin studies having taken the liberty to borrow and read  “Two Cities” and “David Copperfield”  which also was occupying the  bookcase next to his desk  during that final semester of latin.  Mrs. Petray was disciplined about the reading, every student  required to submit a list of prospective books to read and  submit at least two book reports for each report card period from their list.  Gary being  an avid reader, concluding the english class requirement wouldn’t be a problem,  but soon discovering other studies occupying a good portion of his school evening homework time and with weekend activities he found he had the desire but not the time to readily explore the world of literature as before.

Main Public Library on 14th St. in Oakland

Main Public Library on 14th St. in Oakland

The Youth was normally  punctual with  his book report assignments,  but on this occasion overlooking an assignment due date, discovering he failed to finish the book let alone write a book report for Mrs. Petray’s class which was due in the morning.   This the first time  but not the last that he would call upon innovation to prevail to tender and turn in a  synopsis of a novel  to the tenth grade english teacher on the due date for grading.   It was only later when Mrs. Petray approached Gary, addressing him about scheduling a conference.   The day arriving, Gary entering the vacant English Class trying to conceal a look of consternation as he approached,  but it was futile.   He could discern from her expression,  his well disguised work of convenience was finally exposed.   She was subtle,  complimenting him on his well written book reports and then the subject turned detrimental.    She revealed,  while grading student’s book reports, she would sometimes find interest in a novel and a desire to read it,  but discovering the last book Gary had written about was not to be found, adding that even with continued research,  to the point of  inquiring  at Oakland’s Main Downtown Library,  was to no avail.   She confirmed what Gary suspected, having discovered, some of his book reports were factious.   Gary’s literary documentation was always very inclusive listing the  publisher,  copyright and revision dates,  author,  but there was a truism, the arresting storyline always regarded something the aspiring author desired to pen  in the future.  Mrs Petray admonition  was  stern,  but a commiseration   filtered through,  complimenting on his captive pretense,  but giving no quarter to his endeavor.

The Teen was not consumed by the discovery,  discerning this would be his final high school english class,  an enrollment in an alternative  journalism class and the school newspaper where a belletristic talent would be welcomed.  Gary reasoned,  Sir Walter Scott was correct, deception can be self-inflicting.

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