‘“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not,” he once said, quaintly, “but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”’
The “he” from the above quote was Mark Twain, taken from a biography by Albert Bigelow Paine. The law of noncontradiction notwithstanding, I read this recently and had to chuckle, for to know something did not happen you would have to know what did.
Things are often problematical when writing down one’s memories. Sometimes the struggle comes in trying to give context to that amorphous image in your head.
Though what I am about to relate I am sure happened, I’m just not sure whether it was in Colville or Spokane.
Our class was conducting a spelling bee. We stood in a line parallel to the blackboard. The teacher went down the line giving each one their word to spell. The order was repeated unless one missed their word and consequently left the line and took their seat.
I was one of the last spellers standing. And probably would have won if a simple word hadn’t fallen to my lot.
The teacher gave me the word “such.” I stood there repeating it in my mind and spelling out the sounds I heard. What I heard was “sutch.” The “T” was unmistakable to my ear. So I repeated the word, then spelled “S-U-T-C-H.” And to my surprise soon joined the ranks of the seated.
I did learn from the experience. I have known ever since how to spell “such.”
I learned from the same biography that Samuel Clemens was quite good at spelling bees, probably the only thing he liked about school in his “Tom Sawyer days.” Though he was a mite more chivalrous, willing to lose if his lady fair was also in the running.
Excerpt From: Albert Bigelow Paine. “Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866.” iBooks.
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