Friday, August 29, 2014

Bob Dunning: Holmes v. Emerson, an age-old battle of words


From page A2 | June 19, 2014 |

TO HOLMES, VIA EMERSON … our precious Molly “graduated” last week from North Davis Elementary, where she was surrounded for all her years by some of the most wonderful people on Earth … she proudly came home on the last day of school with a beautifully bound “Promotion Certificate” that looks for all the world like a formal diploma … given that she’s off to that East Davis institute of higher learning known as Holmes in the fall, it was interesting that the inspirational words contained within this Promotion Certificate were penned by a chap named Emerson, the cross-town rival of the kids at Holmes …

“Do not follow where the path may lead,” Emerson wrote … “Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” … with thanks to Emerson, I’m certain Molly will blaze a trail wherever she goes … but just for geographic and poetic justice, I found some words written by none other than Mr. Holmes to further inspire her bold step into junior high school … wrote Holmes: “O faithful shepherd thou hast borne the heat and burden of the clay; Yet, o’er thee, bright with beams unshorn, the sun still shows thine onward way.” … I think I’m beginning to understand after all why the folks at North Davis decided to quote Emerson and not Holmes …

HOLMES VS. EMERSON, PART II … given that Molly (see above) will be our third child to pass through the hallowed halls of Holmes, I began to wonder about the school’s name: Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School. … consider that the famed poet was actually Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and his son, the esteemed U.S. Supreme Court justice, was Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., it’s unclear for which Oliver Wendell Holmes the school is named …

After all, if it’s for dad, it should be Oliver Wendell Holmes Senior Junior High School, and if it’s for the son, it should be Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior Junior High School … the sign out front of the school says simply “Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School,” so it could be that it’s really a high school named after Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. … the mystery continues …

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES … my friend Dave says he “read with alarm The Enterprise article last week about the demise of our famous valley fog.” … read the same thing, Dave … I miss those bone-chilling days when the sun never shines … except when I’m driving … adds Dave: “Even worse was the reduced fruit tree production that was blamed on the lack of fog.” … I mean, who knew peaches like fog? …

“Since the reduction in ag-related burning seems to be a big part of the problem, maybe the City Council should require Davis homes to burn wood in their fireplaces each winter to help our local farmers.” … now you’re cooking, Dave … “That might change the fireplace debate.” … amen I say to you … I can see the billboards now: Light a Fire, Save a Nectarine …

LET THERE BE LIGHT … talk about a doubled-edged sword, I loved the letter to the editor from the kind woman who claims she actually likes our new bright-and-bold streetlights because the light “they cast to street and sidewalk better illuminates the cracks in the sidewalks and potholes in the street” that she tries to avoid on her nightly walks … so, the city wins on the lights but loses on the cityscape …

HISTORIC DAY … to all you Texans out there, happy Juneteenth … a great day in your state’s history and that of our nation …

— Reach Bob Dunning at



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