by Tom Morrow
A few years back, a headline blared: “Russians invade Georgia,” one of the regulars at my morning coffee stop pondered aloud, “How close to Atlanta did they get?”
It was a good laugh, but he was serious.
One of the reasons today’s society is so ignorant about world geography is because there are no more free maps in gas stations. If it weren’t for free maps, a lot of you grandparents wouldn’t have been able to find Woodstock. (It’s in New York state). Today, you probably have a dashboard GPS unit telling you where to go, but that’s too easy.
Remember those games we played as kids when our parents took us on long cross-country road trips? We’d take Dad’s maps out of the glove compartment and figure how far it’d be to the next town – helping him to navigate. It cut down on us asking, “Are we there yet?”
In school, I really enjoyed and looked forward to geography classes. Every elementary grade had a giant world map hanging on the classroom wall. In junior high, we had a series of pull-down state and regional maps on rollers above the blackboard.
Studying national and world maps allowed me to dream of far-away places. Doing so gave me hope for escaping Iowa. (FYI: Iowa is between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers).
Of course, today’s youngsters don’t have geography classes to speak of, so students miss out on learning stuff like the yearly wheat yield of the Ukraine, the annual rainfall in the Amazon delta, or the world’s most-southern national capital city. Yeah, that’s more information than needed by most people, but I didn’t forget where those areas are on the map. And, how many of you know where the Ukraine and Amazon are located? And, no, the city in question isn’t Santiago or Pretoria.
Today you can still get road maps at gas stations and convenience stores, but they’ll cost you about $5 each – not as much fun.
Hopefully, some schools and libraries have saved those old pull-down maps we used in geography classes 40 and 50 years ago. The entire maps of Africa and much of Europe of yesteryear would not be recognized by today’s youth. For that matter, most of them don’t recognized today’s maps of most anywhere on earth.
KID TRUTHS — A Sunday school teacher was instructing her class about the difference between right and wrong.
“All right children, let’s take another example,” she said. “If I were to get into a man’s pocket and take his billfold with all his money, what would I be?”
Little Johnny raises his hand, and with a confident smile, blurted out, “You’d be his wife!”
PUN FUN – Try this one for a smile: The roundest knight sitting at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
MORE OF ME – If you’d like more of my words, check out my “Historically Speaking” column each week in “The Paper” available throughout North County. Also, order my latest mystery novel, “Haunted Bones” at: www.tomorrowsnovels.com