Show And Tell. It used to be a big deal in school. Kids would bring in some totally trivial object: a pet turtle, a broken toy, or weird food, and then go on and on about it as if it were the most delightful thing in the entire world. Then the process would be repeated by the next kid sharing what they, or more likely, their parents believed would be fascinating to the rest of the class. While teachers seemed to always make a huge production out of it, I’d learned by this time that teachers were never really satisfied. Besides, the whole sharing thing never really appealed to me so, I usually didn’t participate - other than sit there while I was forced to listen to the drivel. Occasionally, however, the teacher would insist that everyone had to be involved and she made Show And Tell a requirement - and then graded us on our performance.
On one such occasion, of which I’d been given a full day’s notice but had conveniently forgotten about, I decided to get into the spirit of things. Although, I’d come to school unprepared, I thought fast, recalling an article I’d seen in the encyclopedia. I decided I’d use that. When my turn rolled around, I walked to the front of the room, grabbed the encyclopedia and opened it to the story, complete with pictures. I then launched into a recap of the article, which described the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean where Navy Seals met the capsule and assisted in getting the astronauts out safely. Near the end of the article was a small picture of the first Navy Seal to reach the Apollo after splashdown.
As I finished my story, the teacher, with a rather disapproving look, reminded the class that Show And Tell was supposed to be something personal. And then looking back to me she asked what the story in the encyclopedia had to do with me.
I said, “The guy in this picture is at my house.”
A few of the kids seemed to think that was cool but it was obvious the teacher did not. “If you don’t have anything for Show And Tell, you should just say so instead of making something up,” she lectured me.
“But it’s true,” I insisted.
It was no use. She didn’t believe me. And I got an F.
Thing is, it was true. The guy in the picture was indeed at my house at that very moment. The retired Navy Seal, who was by that time a preacher, had been the special speaker for several days at the church my dad pastored. The man’s name is John Wolfram, and he was the first Navy Seal to meet the Apollo on splashdown.
Rather than continuing to argue with my teacher, I went home and told my parents - and luckily for me, John Wolfram heard the story too. He was leaving early the next morning so he couldn’t accompany me to school but he had an idea that he thought would help.
The next day, I proudly carried another picture into class - a Polaroid of me and John Wolfram - in front of my house! Yes, I felt pretty smug about the whole thing. The entire class was impressed, including the teacher, and my grade was changed to an A. Everything was great - until the next day. My teacher decided that since I’d had such an interesting guest, it would make a perfect topic for a report - due the next week. See? Teachers are never satisfied!