If you are a teacher you have heard Little Johnny jokes. Enjoy.

For some reason a teaching friend of mine decided that her Self Contained Special Education children should have access to the Industrial Arts lab and to the same experiences as any other student. This was very progressive thinking for the Seventies and inexplicably the powers-that-were agreed with the special education teacher, much to the chagrin of the Industrial Arts teacher. Also inexplicably I was somehow convinced to lend another pair of eyes to help monitor the proceedings. It did not begin well.

I am sure many of you have heard of the little Johnny jokes. They may have been created specifically with this young man in mind. Johnny was not just little, he was scrawny and I am sure underfed. Johnny was also unkempt. Longish “bed” hair stuck out in all directions framing a narrow face with a narrow hooked nose that was a very prominent feature. Dressed for the month in jeans and a well-used tee shirt, he was not an attractive young man. He was also not very bright or sweet. After receiving instruction, the class’s task was to build a blue bird house which would require everyone to use a table or band saw. Johnny did not want to use either and was very vocal about it. In his slow, whiney drawl he loudly stated, “Ain’t gonna use the damn thing! It’s too damn loud!” After much cajoling from his teacher, Johnny finally strode over to the band saw, turned in on, placed his measured one by six in position and with some forethought cut the end of his index finger off. Proudly showing his bloody nub, he said, “Told you I didn’t want to use the damn thing! It is too damn loud!”

Several months after school had adjourned for the year I drove to the gym to do my summer weight room supervision and was met by an unusual sight. Resting on the hill overlooking the baseball field was a hang glider. Not something you see every day or even once in your lifetime on a high school campus. Buckling himself into the contraption was Johnny “the nub” from Industrial Arts fame.

“My, my Johnny that is a fine hang glider. What are you going to do with that thing?”
“Gonna fly off Glassy Mountain.”
“Johnny, you are a long way from Glassy Mountain, I don’t think you can fly that far.”
“Coach Miller, I gotta practice to fly off from there.”
“Johnny, I am sorry. You can’t practice here. Ms. Koon (our principal) would have both our butts if I let you fly off here.”

I should have been a little clearer about what ‘not here’ meant. An hour into my supervision I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. As I looked out over the baseball field, motion to my right caught my attention. To Johnny, ‘not here’ meant that he should move to the hill that the football stadium was built into, and I was too late to abort his takeoff. To add to the excitement, he had drawn a crowd of football players and band members who decided to cheer him on. I took off at a ”sprint”, yelling all of the way. Johnny just grinned, waved and took off on his own sprint and then leapt into the sky as he got to the beginning of the hill’s decline. It was pretty anticlimactic. With feet tucked up under him, his toes might have been two feet, ten inches off of the ground. I estimate this because the field restraining fence was three feet tall and his toes did not quite clear it. With toes hung on the fence, forward momentum was changed to downward momentum causing the nose of the hang glider to “staub” up into the ground with Johnny’s toes acting as the fulcrum. By the time that I got to him he was out of his harness and painfully jumping from foot to foot, softly saying “oh, oh, oh, oh!” I don’t know if Johnny ever got to fly off of Glassy Rock. Since I have heard of no fatalities, I would guess not.

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