Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All the Hoopla

Ahh Valentine's Day. On this, the most Romantic of Holidays (arguably), I tend to remember one of the most memorable papers I ever wrote in High School. 

It was for our Junior History 'Thesis', which meant it had to be over 10 pages long.  With Footnotes. Good God.  This was before the internet, mind you. We had to use the actual Library, and stuff.  I was brought up in a conservative town (to put it mildly). Though, to be fair, I didn't realize How conservative till I moved away.  So, imagine, if you will, going into a small town library charged with the task of trying to come up with a topic for a TEN PAGE paper.  I mean really.  That's a lot of research.  You have to be FASCINATED by the subject. I remember there were a couple of my friends in there, who had already picked their topics.  Something like "The Wooly Mammoth", one did his, I believe, on the Human Genome Project. Stuff like that.  Yawn.  Volcanoes.

I remember randomly flipping through the encyclopedias, hoping that something would reach out and grab me.  V. Voles. (I don't know why, I always flip from the back..) Violins. Valentine. St. Valentines. St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Bingo.  The entry in the encyclopedia was about 4 sentences long.  But it was enough to get me interested.  I mean the name alone!  So I went to the card catalog.  Looked up St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  One Book. Whoa.  I was impressed our small town library had that!  I found it, and, wonders of wonders, it had Pictures.  Actual, honest to God, black and white pictures taken of the crime scene.  Yup.  And so the obsession with the '20's and anything gangster was born.  Before it was cool.  I was a trend setter.

It was hard, doing research for that paper.  I got some looks from the librarians.  I had to do a lot of clarifying, repeatedly.  "No Really.  I did mean to write 'Massacre' after the St. Valentine.".  I got questioned a lot, but in the end it was worth it.  Writing that paper taught me a lot about research. About writing something that people don't really agree with. (And that wasn't even really a hardcore topic!) And really, just simply doing what you want to do.  Cause that's how they rolled in the '20's, gangster style.


  1. Ha! Liked this. And I wrote a lot of papers the old fashioned way - without the internet or Wikipedia, neither of which I could do without now!

  2. Tell me about it...I was just lamenting the other day how I don't seem to own a 'physical' dictionary anymore. How can that be! Not sure what happened to it. I have a thesaurus. No dictionary. Must rectify. If the internet ever implodes it would be bad...


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