Darrell Huckaby: It's hard to part with the 'stuff' of life

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Have you moved recently? Me either. In fact, one of the primary reasons my lovely wife, Lisa, and I have stayed married so long is that neither of us wants to think about going through the clutter we have amassed over the past three decades.

We have a lot of stuff, understand, and I cannot bear to part with any of it.

Well, next week I will have to move, sort of. I have spent most days of the last 14 or 15 years in basically the same spot at Heritage High School, and I have to vacate the premises by next Friday. It's bittersweet, of course. I look forward to the extra free time and the opportunity to do some other things. I have begun my own tour business and am getting the opportunity to preach the Gospel in a lot of churches and I am looking forward to sleeping late.

It's funny. I have always been a morning person and for most of my life arose before the sun to get a head start on my day's activities. Now I go to bed at nine every night and many days -- the ones I don't have school -- I sleep past nine the next morning and still don't want to get up.

However, I will miss spending my days talking about the history of the greatest nation on Earth with some of the greatest kids on Earth. Right this minute, though, my concern is what to do with all of the "stuff" I have accumulated over the past two decades.

Everybody I know, when they have gotten ready to clean out their own closets and do away with their own "stuff," has donated the treasure they can't bear to part with to me. I have more book collections and sets of ancient encyclopedias than I can say grace over and Lisa would kill me if I tried to cart those books home to be stored in our basement or attic or sun room that has become a catch all for junk and more junk.

I have cabinets full of newspaper articles and photographs and student projects that were just too good to throw away.

And the walls of my room! They are a virtual museum of Americana. How can I not spend each day among so many reminders of why our nation is so exceptional?

On the back wall is a giant mural of one of my favorite spots on Earth -- a special place at Rocky Mountain National Park. When days grew long and my heart grew weary, as they sometimes did -- and do -- I could always take a short vacation, in my mind, to those beautiful peaks and settle my inner self and all would be right with the world, at least until the end of that school day. I will miss gazing at the azure sky above those snow-capped mountains.

I have a large portrait of Elvis on my wall. Don't snicker. He might have been the most American of all Americans. He, like our country, rose from humble roots to become a victim of his own success and indulgences. I have a matching poster of Marilyn Monroe, too -- the one with her skirt flying up above a city subway grate.

Then there is the famous picture of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. I wonder if this nation will ever know such joy again as we knew on that day. I'm guessing no -- and certainly not in my lifetime.

There is the solemn stare of Sitting Bull on one wall, as he gazed into a camera, wondering why when the white people fought for their land and their freedom, they were heroes, but when his people did the same, they were called bloodthirsty savages. Not every chapter of our history has been honorable.

There is a large photograph of a nuclear bomb exploding over Bikini Atoll, put there to elicit debate over Harry Truman's decision to use atomic energy to end World War II, and there are so many great and influential Americans adorning the walls of my room -- George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, FDR, Ronald Reagan ... The list goes on and on and on -- just like my career has for the past 39 years.

But all good things must come to an end. I haven't really gotten tired of teaching. I just don't have the energy to do it all day any longer. That is probably just has well because the modern ideas about education that are being dictated, for the most part, by politicians in Washington, D.C., who wouldn't last a day if you put them in front of a high school classroom, don't exactly Gee-Haw with my beliefs about education.

So I guess I will give away what I can and throw away the rest and fade into the sunset. My absence will leave a hole about as big as your hand leaves when you remove it from a jar of water.

Maybe I will still get to teach history to somebody, though. I signed a contract a month ago with a television production company to spend the next 12 months developing a TV show that they hope to sell to the History Channel.

It won't be the same though. It won't be the same.

Anybody out there want a perfectly good Bonnie Blue flag?

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.