A 1976 High School English Class Presentation

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It’s 1976 and at this time in my life, learning such things as writing, grammar and anything else related to English class was the furthest thing from my redneck under stimulated mind. I simply couldn’t imagine why I would care about such boring foolishness as sentence structure, verbs, nouns, adjectives and those ridiculous pronouns!

And public speaking. Hah! I figured the only way I’d need to present to a group of people would possibly be a jury, and I was certainly hoping to avoid that at all cost. I definitely wasn’t ever going to make it to law school either!

Of course there would come a time when I really really would have benefited from paying attention to all that “crap”. As it turned out, not only did it become a big part of my life, and not only did it account for a big part of my living, I also surprisingly found out I actually enjoyed it. Who would have thought?

At this time in my life it was all about day dreaming and horse playing to pass the time of day for most of the time I was in school. Unfortunately however we were given a public speaking assignment that I would have to complete. The assignment was to give a presentation to the entire English class. The class would move the desk into a big circle around the class room and we took turns presenting one of our favorite subjects.

The subjects typically were things like how to bake a cake, or mending a shirt or building a bird house. Oddly nobody did how to skin a coon. I thought that might be interesting although there was one on how to set a leg hold trap.

My choice by todays standards and rules would likely get me suspended for the rest of the school year, and who knows, maybe even a chance at that jury presentation, but in 1976 it was completely acceptable.

It’s somewhat sad to think the world has changed to this extent, but it has. And I don’t think it has anything to do with my presentation. But back to my 1976 English class presentation.

My presentation was reloading rifle ammunition. I chose the .222 since I had everything I needed. It just so happens the equipment I had for the .222 was the small portable versions. I could carry everything in a small package right into the classroom!

I went through the entire process of reloading a rifle cartridge, from lubing the casing, resizing the casing, installing the primer, measuring the powder, crimping the bullet and so forth. Towards the end of the presentation I had a loaded rifle cartridge.

I even talked about choosing the right powder for your desired muzzle velocity, cartridge caliber and what grain bullet you were using. I talked about case expansion from the compression and how it affected the brass.

I talked about safety and how smokeless gun power was not as dangerous as black powder and how fire around bullets did not cause the massive explosions we see on tv and how a bullet will not fire because of impact unless the primer is struck with enough force to cause an indent in the exact location like a firing pin does.

I mentioned, even stressed that you could drop bullets on a concrete floor and nothing would happen. As a demonstration I flipped the bullet toward the ceiling to let it hit the floor about dead center of the circle of students, just to show that nothing would happen.

But ahead of starting the presentation I got together with my buddy Ben. Ben was your typical practical joker and he fit the assignment to a tee. I said we need to add a little excitement hoping it would help with the grade and maybe remove some of the overwhelming boredom of English class. After all, the point of any presentation is make it memorable. That was one thing we learned in class.

So just as the bullet hit the floor, when everyone was hanging on every word and watching intensely to the riveting presentation, Ben grabbed his empty lunch bag. You know the brown paper bags we used to carry lunch in, and making sure nobody was watching him, he secretly filled the bag with air. Just as the bullet hit the floor, which everyone knew was now fully loaded, Ben popped the bag.

Oh baby!!

It’s somewhat amazing the sound a small brown paper bag can make in an enclosed cinder block classroom. To say the “explosion” caused a ruckus would be like saying a bad day of hunting is still better than a good day at work!

Adding to the paper bag “bang” came the sound of those large metal desk pounding against each other as my fellow students dove under them, driving them into each other or bouncing them across the hard concrete floor in a flurry of hysteria.

Others just froze with a look of horror on their red worried faces. I’m pretty sure a couple of them may have peed their unmentionables.

After the noise stopped Ben and I didn’t stop laughing until we saw the look on the teachers face. Gladly she wasn’t one of the ones who peed themselves, so that probably did help matters a little.

I probably also should have considered that the principle of the school wasn’t a bad guy, but he wasn’t a big hunter or outdoors type either, so the lesson intent was somewhat lost on him. His sense of humor didn’t seem to be at a high point that day.

So the moral of the story seems to be think through your presentations and try to keep the sudden rise in noise and any attention grabbing parts to a minimum, or at least to the expectation of your audience.

I somehow still managed to graduate that year and after some time to cool off I actually got a passing grade on the presentation. I often wonder how I’d do with a similar presentation in front of a jury. I suppose I’d only get away with it if I was the defense attorney. I probably should have gone to law school with such good presentation skills: don’t you think?


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