Tim's View: I never got an "A"
by Tim Robinson
All through elementary, junior and senior high school, I dreaded report cards. Student achievement was based on letter grades. A for excellent work and B for pretty damn good. C was average, while D was below average and F was failing.
I wasn’t a bad student. I thought I had good skills in all areas. But I had a great fear of failing. If I had drawn a simple vertical line to change an “F” to make it an "A" on my midterm card., it would have earned me $5 from my parents .
I had plenty of "C" grades, a number of "B" grades in classes I truly enjoyed, like biology and speech.
I was very excited about wood and metal shop. I made some odd things, like a shoebox for dad, a wood duck with aluminum wings. Metal chains and rings, etc. I received a "C" in both iclasses. My brother Ken made an elaborate table that ws put on display at the school in his wood shop class. He got an "A".
I loved P.E I was always athletic. It did not matter. Intramural sports, soccer, basketball, badminton, flag football. I performed at my best; still only a "B".
I was a fast runner in elementary school, probably too fast. I once raced across the playground, possibly setting a land record, to kiss Betsy Palto on the cheek as she held one end of a jump rope. She could not see who it was due to my high speed. At least I thought so. She totally ignored me the rest of 2nd grade. That translates to a "D" for dumb.
Sixth grade flag football was a delight for me. Teams like the Lions, Bears and Tigers competed at lunch time. I had a secret weapon. Tough feet. I nearly always slipped out of my penny loafers (with real pennies ). I ran with the ball in my stocking feet for the entire game. Then, of course, I had to put my dirt stained stocking feet back into those loafers for the one mile walk home after school. The socks were shredded but my shoes looked great. Mom was not pleased. Good thing she was not giving out grades.
In my junior year I really was fast. I thought about turning out for the track team. I figured they needed a 5' 3 inch sprinter. That Spring we tested in P.E. class. I got a "C". My mom called it a “growth spurt” as the reason. I was timed in 12.1 seconds for running 100 yards. I was slower than four of the bulky linemen on the football team. Apparently I was not fast.
In my senior year I felt very confident that art class would be a triumph for me. I grabbed some red clay and began working on a fabulous reptilian form.—-huge teeth jutting out from a wedge shaped head, four clawed legs, a swoop of a tail attached to a fatted body. Mrs Arthur stopped by my table to ask "what is it Tim". While it had been pretty obvious to me, she was either teasing me or genuinely did not know it was an Alligator. Regardless, I was terribly disappointed. I smoothed things out, removed the clawed legs and reshaped the wedge-head into what became a very graceful, elongated ashtray, ready for the kiln. It never made the cut as Mrs. Arthur got to choose only those efforts by other kids who actually made something artistic. My long, gently curved "hot dog bun" did not qualify. I did get a "C" for effort.
After a stint in the military I began college. Everything seemed easy. I was older than most of the freshman class. From journalism, creative writing, German class and philosophy I aced everything. I made the Dean's list as a straight "A" student. I proudly showed it to my parents that fall and only later realized the local newspaper had included the names on the Dean's list, as was usual in those days. I looked with anxious anticipation. Halfway down the column was a listing for someone named TIM TOBINSON. I sadly acknowledged that I still had never got an "A".