Edited by Chuck Fager
Front cover of Passing the Torch.
When I was in 9th grade, I took Latin. Near the end of the year, we took a national Latin examination. Our teacher prepped us for about a week before the exam. I clearly remember her telling the class to have a look at pages XYZ concerning gerunds because we hadn’t yet covered that in class. (If you don’t know what a gerund is, don’t worry; it’s unimportant.) I looked up the section on gerunds and found that it was easy to make one in Latin. When the test came, the last question was on making a gerund. I easily figured that one out. When the results came in later, I and two of my classmates received a mark of 96 or more. I got 98, meaning I missed only one regular question. A student who got over 96 points received a certificate of merit. Since the last gerund question was worth 5 points, I had to have answered this correctly in order to earn the certificate.
Since three of us had received the high marks, the school was awarded a trophy. At a school assembly the three of us were paraded in front of all the other students and teachers and lauded for our results to the pride of our school. The trophy was displayed in a glass case in the hall near the front door with all the other athletic trophies the school had earned. This award solidified my reputation as a bright, outstanding student in the school. As a result in the future teachers had great expectations from me and I responded according, never receiving anything below an A and graduating second or third in my class rankings.
This was a fraud. A few years after taking the exam when I was still in high school, I was talking with that Latin teacher. She told me that she had opened the exam before we took it, realized the gerund question was important, and therefore coached us. Perhaps she had coached us on other questions she knew were going to be asked. She said she did this because Latin was then going out of fashion being replaced by French and Spanish, so she needed to “prove” that Latin was important. I was horrified. I helped win that trophy for the school because she cheated. I didn’t earn it, as I had thought, on my own merits. Yes, I understand that it was the teacher who cheated and not me, but then I had been manipulated in the teacher’s interest. It’s over 60 years later and I am still ashamed that I received inappropriate credit for something I did not do fair and square. David Zarembka
From the introduction: “Quakers are often very interesting people. And generations come and go. These are the modest theses behind this book. In fifty-plus years among The Religious Society of Friends (our rather pompous official name), its members, attenders, hang-ers-on and even antagonists, I have kept bumping into and hearing about interesting people. And many very interesting people.”
Chuck has asked nine of these “interesting people” plus himself to leave some thoughts on where we have come from, what we have done, and why we did it. The ten authors are Chuck Fager, Editor, Barbara Bernsten, Carter Nash, David Zarembka, Marian Rhys, Douglas Gwyn, Helena Cobban, H. Larry Ingle, Daiane Faison McKinzie, and Emma Lapsansky-Werner. As you can see, I am one of them.
I have read the book and, yes, these are very interesting people. Chuck gave everyone complete latitude to cover the topic however we wished. As a result each author interpreted the charge differently, but then each one of us has had varied experiences. I encourage you to have a read.
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