Jerry Garcia High. Now there’s a high school our mature Deadheads might like to support by selling some tie-dyes and a few beads, instead of holding bake sales. Though I imagine if the school day were to start with “Truckin’” on the PA system, there wouldn’t be a student left on campus by the time the music stopped.
It has become the rage to rename. The San Francisco School Board has targeted 44 schools for renaming, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary. Why her, a former mayor of the City by the Bay, sitting California senator, and the only living person marked for removal? According to one account, it has something to do with a Confederate flag flying in an 18 historical flag display outside City Hall. It was torn down, then replaced, before the pole itself was cut down, and Mayor Feinstein ordered a flag honoring union soldiers to be raised in its stead. The oldest man in the world could not figure out what happened with that flag without forfeiting his sanity and entrusting it to an insane asylum. About the other 43 schools we will have to talk another time.
But here’s the good news: The country of Ukraine is currently attempting to repair relations with us, the United States. So, one thing they are in the process of doing to repair those relations is to erect a statue in the heart of Odessa, of—can we have a drum roll please? Trumpets? Harps? Cymbals?—Yes! Mark Twain!
We have to believe Sam Clemens must be smiling from above, as Odessa is known for its exquisite oysters, and as William Dean Howells once said of Samuel, “It was something fearful to see him eat escalloped oysters.”
There is a statue of Mark Twain across from Galena High School, where, before a big test, kids will walk over and rub the back of Sam’s head for luck. The back of his head is developing a gold patina in fact, from all the good-luck rubs.
I explored purchasing a statue of Mark Twain for our amazing public library here in the Village of Incline but didn’t have the $30,000 handy. However, when my ship comes in, our library will have that statue of Mark Twain sitting out front to greet everybody as they enter. After all, it was Mark Twain who said, “A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”
Well, I should start saving my money instead of placing everything I have at hand on a fast pony. As to the renaming of public things, to my mind, we should place proposed names on a ballot and let the public vote every four years to keep the present name or give that public thing a brand-new name. Though I must confess, I don’t know exactly how I’d feel if they voted to rename my old high school, “Jerry Garcia High.”
McAvoy Layne is a 30-year impressionist of Mark Twain who can be reached at GhostofTwain.com.