Pop culture history is written by the winners, so it comes as little surprise that Pat Boone has never received credit for the important role he played in the 1950s as “America’s Panty Shield.” Like the outnumbered Spartans at Thermopylae he stood athwart the gusset of popular music, absorbing the heavy flow of Black rhythm and blues, in an effort to prevent embarrassing, tell-tale stains on America’s youth.
Today, faced with another Black incursion upon a previously all-White institution, he again offers himself as a intercessor — a sort of breathable cotton panel of racial politics — advising President Obama that the best way to win over White folks is to act more like a 19th century caricature of an 18th century leader.
I doubt that it’s ever taught in school today, because it seems that the National Education Association has different ideas about what our kids need to know.
They also spend time talking about “the climate” and “evolution” instead of teaching our children how phlogiston reacts with the Aether.
But most adults over 40 surely are familiar with the story about young George Washington, who had been given a small hatchet for his birthday.
Which he later used to take revenge on the camp counselors who let him drown in Crystal Lake.
Eager to try it out, the boy looked for something to hack (the word had a different meaning in our forefathers’ days). And he found it — a little cherry tree. When his father found that a perfectly good cherry tree had been destroyed, he asked George whether he knew what had happened.“Father, I cannot tell a lie,” said the future first president of the United States of America. “I did it.”An insignificant story, perhaps, just a little morality tale for kids. No one today can verify whether it actually happened.
Criswell: My friend, you have seen this incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn’t happen?
I, for one, believe it did, mainly because if its apparent insignificance. If there weren’t a factual basis for the story, who would make it up?
You got me there, Pat.
Surely a fableist would conjure up something more dramatic than a little boy cutting down a cherry tree with his new hatchet.
It certainly reads like dispassionate reportage:
Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. “George,” said his father, ” do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? ” This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all- conquering truth, he bravely cried out, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.” “Run to my arms, you dearest boy,” cried his father in transports, “run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold.”
I must admit, Pat makes a good point. The story would have been much more effective as morality tale if the same question had been posed about Andrew and Abby Borden, and their little daughter Lizzie had responded, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa. I did it with my little hatchet.” And then, despite her dreadful expectations, Lizzie was not punished for her mischief, for she was brave enough to tell the truth, and smart enough to tell it to a corpse.
Is it any wonder, then, that parents and teachers have pointed to the man we call “the father of our country” for nearly 200 years as an example for our kids to emulate? That, too, makes the story of the apple tree meaningful and important: Children can understand the moral and learn a valuable lesson from their earliest years.
Especially if you keep it fresh by randomly changing the fruit.
Posted by scott on June 23rd, 2009