Volume III, No. 4, Summer 1976
Summer is a good time for thinking. It's a lazy season, with none of the pressures of school. It seems appropriate to sit under a shade tree on a sunny afternoon, with thoughts wandering over the past, present, and future.
As I think back to Bittersweet's past, it's hard to realize just how far we have come. When I was accepted on the original staff, we didn't have a magazine or even a name, only ideas. Now we are not only a magazine with international circulation, but also a not-for-profit tax-exempt corporation.
I have mixed feelings about leaving all this behind. When something has played such a large role in your life, you hate to give it up. But of necessity you must go on to new experiences, finding something else to become involved in.
But nothing else could offer me the opportunities Bittersweet has. Aside from the obvious opportunity of writing for magazine publication, I have been shown other, less obvious, opportunities.
For instance, I think I would be safe in saying that very few other high school students are given the chance to be vice-president of a corporation at age 16, or a member of that corporation's board or directors at 17. I have had a taste of running a business that nearly all others my age still hunger for.
Nor have many others my age been allowed to fly to Colorado, all expenses paid, to be an instructor at a week-long workshop to teach other students publication procedures and techniques.
All together different from these special opportunities are the pain and pleasure Bittersweet provides. In this context, pain is figurative, pleasure literal.
For example, I'm writing this editorial to meet a deadline that somehow sort of slipped up behind me. (That's a nasty habit they have. ) But the pressure and worry will soon be forgotten, and, when the finished magazine returns, completely erased.
Researching stories can also be painful and pleasurable. While cave crawling in one cave, I was in pain, trying to contort myself to crawl through a three-foot-high room, liberally sprinkled with sharp rocks and stalagmites, and then crawling on my stomach through ice-cold water. But all the other caves were quite enjoyable, and I wouldn't hesitate a second if asked to go to them again.
The stories I most enjoyed researching were those on square dancing and shape-note singing. The square dances we had were among the most fun things I ever attended. Learning the basic movements, mastering the intricate dances, collapsing in exhaustion--it was great! And so were the two singing schools I attended. Even now, I occasionally catch myself humming one of the songs taught there.
One of the most painful things is the realization that after the other seniors and I leave, Bittersweet will continue without us. Through the process of picking new staff members, and, just last month, choosing new editors, we kept telling ourselves that it wouldn't be the same, that we were indispensible. But in the back of our minds, we know. We know that next year's editors will be as capable, if not more so, than we were. We know that Bittersweet will continue to thrive and will grow, even without our guidance. And we wouldn't want it otherwise.
It's harder than I thought it would be to write about the past three years. Bittersweet has been such a big part of my life that there are simply too many things to say, too many feelings to express. Perhaps that's as it should be. Perhaps those feelings should remain inside. After all, I'm basically a selfish person.
FROM THE PENS OF OUR READERS
Dear Ellen and BITTERSWEET staff:
I have just put down your most recent issue with the self promise to reread several articles at
home tonight. As I have come to expect, this is another fine edition in the BITTERSWEET series.
Your story series on high schools is great and makes a wonderful survey of rural education when read in concert with your country elementary schools articles. I cannot count the number of teachers and just folks to whom I have referred that first one-room school series. They have never failed to comment favorably--and usually follow with a lengthy discussion about what has been lost along the way to the notion that bigger is better.
Of course with our bias about FOXFIRE type projects, I especially found the report on your recent survey of readers to be very interesting. I hope you will agree to let us reprint that one in the next issue of EXCHANGE. Again, you folks lead the way in helping us learn about BITTERSWEET and the more than 50 similar projects now at work.
Thanks from all of us at IDEAS.
Murray E. Durst
Ed. note: The Exchange is published by IDEAS, Inc., 1785 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20036. Devoted exclusively to projects similar to Bittersweet, it is a way for the projects to exchange ideas and helpful hints.
Dear BITTERSWEET staff:
I want to thank you personally for your participation in the Eighth Annual English Language Arts
Conference at the University of Missouri Columbia. Your presentation, "Student Publications and
the Local Community: The BITTERSWEET Experience," was both timely and interesting. I
know that those who attended were stimulated by your ideas and were appreciative of the
material which you provided them.
The success of this conference----and, I think, of all meaningful in-service education--is dependent upon the willingness of experienced people like you who are willing to share their time, energy, and imagination.
Thank you again so much for your work.
Ben F. Nelms
Professor of English Education
Dear BITTERSWEET staff:
Some weeks ago I received the Fall 1974 copy of BITTERSWEET containing the story of
Dorothy and Charlie (McMicken).
Dorothy is my cousin, and it was such a thrill to find such a creative person a part of our heritage. I knew of her roses, of course, but I presume her modesty in other lines kept her from saying anything about her other capabilities.
I graduated from Lebanon High School more years ago than I care to recall but still remember with affection some of the families there.
I am enclosing my check for a subscription to BITTERSWEET. I am sure we will have great fun reminiscing as we read it.
Mrs. John Hadden
Dear Mrs. Massey and staff:
I admire your talent and ability to teach youth a real value toward life and living. I know how few people will really take time to help our youth.
Mrs. Walter Frost
Bob Lewis, Pacific, Missouri
Ken Sweet, Grand Blanc, Michigan
Lillian Cunningham, Roach, Missouri
Mrs. G.C. Folkert, Bay City, Michigan
George and Opal Lewis, Stockton, Missouri
Becky Adams, Monticello, Illinois
W. Pyke Johnson, Jr., Old Greenwich, CT
Mrs. Roy McNabney, Coffeyville, Kansas
Tolbert Edwards, Arlington, Texas
Stephen C. Schwalen, San Jose, California
Vicki Cravens, Lebanon, Missouri, for compiling the index.
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.