It is all Patrick's fault. Patrick would be Patrick Kicklighter -- the magnificent young man who valiantly substituted for me last year while I was battling to stay alive and now sits beside me at church on Sunday when he doesn't get a better offer from the other side of the sanctuary.
Everybody mistakes him for my son. He's not, but I'd claim him.
Well, Patrick is a full-fledged teacher at Heritage High School now and occupies a room right down the hall from mine. We are happy to have him. I walked into his classroom a couple of weeks ago and immediately sinned. I violated one of the commandments -- and there are only 10 of them. I coveted the Andrew Jackson bobblehead doll sitting on Patrick's desk.
Now, Andrew Jackson was an interesting fellow. Born in South Carolina, he fought in the American Revolution and was captured and tortured by the British. He earned a fortune farming and selling land in Tennessee and made himself a legend fighting Indians in Georgia and Alabama -- with Davy Crockett.
He built on that legend at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 and rode that wave of popularity to eventually become president of the United States. As president, Jackson made more enemies than he could shake a stick at -- John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Nicholas Biddle ... His enemies finally created a brand new political party-- the Whigs -- just to oppose "King Andrew."
Patrick had a bobblehead of him and I didn't. I made up my mind right then to start my own collection of bobblehead dolls of my own favorite figures of American history. It wasn't a case of keeping up with the Joneses, understand -- or in this case, the Kicklighters. The bobbleheads are just so cool to look at. I decided that I had to have a whole cabinet of my own little figures so that I can look at them and recall their great deeds every time I walk through my living room.
Yes, I said living room. I won't be in my classroom long enough to get them unpacked. Thanks to the Internet -- and much to the dismay of my lovely wife, Lisa, my collection is well under way. The first figure I ordered was that of my favorite president. No, smart-aleck, I don't have a Barack Obama doll. I do, however, have a bully reproduction of Teddy Roosevelt -- dressed in his Rough Rider uniform from the Spanish American War. TR, they called him.
I love TR. He was bold and brash and said exactly what he thought and meant exactly what he said. I admire that in a man. He was a cowboy and a soldier and the first president to go up in an airplane or down in a submarine. He was a man's man and gave us the Teddy Bear -- by refusing to kill one -- and the Panama Canal, by fomenting a revolution in Panama.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize but claimed that the greatest moment of his life came in war. And if you have ever enjoyed a trip to Yellowstone or Yosemite or Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve and Bird Sanctuary on the west coast of Florida, you owe old Teddy a word of thanks. (You can thank him in person if you come to my next history lecture Feb. 7. I hear he is going to be there.)
The next doll I bought was General Lee. If you have to ask who General Lee was, you aren't reading my column anyway.
I wanted dolls of interesting people -- characters, if you will -- so I ordered George Patton. He was known as "Old Blood and Guts," to which one of his soldiers was said to have replied, "Yeah, our blood; his guts." I don't know if he was anything like the man George C. Scott portrayed in the movie "Patton," but if he was, I am proud to have him on my bookshelf.
Let's see. Who else? Oh. How could I have forgotten? I have Mark Twain and his bobblehead probably looks better than any of the others. He is wearing a white suit and has that mane of hair that would make a lion envious and is holding a cigar aloft, as if pontificating about some subject of the day.
Twain: "Man is the only animal that blushes -- or needs to."
Twain: "Clothes make the man. Nudists have little effect on society."
Twain: "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."
Twain: "God made idiots for practice; then he made school boards."
Who wouldn't want Mark Twain in their collection -- other than school board members, I mean.
I also have added Albert Einstein and Fidel Castro. Yes, Castro. If Jimmy Carter can go to a baseball game dressed like his twin brother, I can put him on my shelf. Besides, he is more of a capitalist than our current leader.
While I have been collecting my little men I have noticed that Patrick has added George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I think he's building his collection in chronological order.
I'm sticking with the people I admire the most. I wonder where I can get my hands on a Harry Truman figure. "I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." That's my kind of guy -- and doll.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.