At around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, my wife and I were having lunch at a local diner in Rio Rico with all necessary COVID-19 precautions in place. As we were sitting there, I realized a gentlemen at a table six feet over was one of my former students at Nogales High School. I was sure when he got up with his mask on and asked me, “Is that map we made still hanging at the high school?”
This former student was talking about the giant 4-by-16-foot map of the world his class made in the late 1980s or early 1990s. This map was so huge we got the administration to hang it in the office. I told the former student it was still hanging in the administration building when I retired in 2003, but it is no longer there. He was very disappointed when he heard that news.
As the years are passing by I am realizing the meaning of the words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns that went something like this: “Lord, give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.” I feel that mine at the high school were in academics and sports. However, according to the aforementioned student, what I am remembered for are all the maps I had students construct and/or draw in world history and geography classes.
Even years later, after I retired, parents would tell me, “Mr. Cripe, you drove me and my sons or daughters crazy by having them draw all those maps.” Nevertheless, there is a map of the world drawn from memory by one of my students in the late 1980s or early 1990s that has always stuck in my mind. Instead of a map of the world, the student drew an outline map of the United States surrounded by unnamed blobs for other countries. Of course the student passed. I was getting easier even then.
The question is, did this student with limited English, and probably limited understanding, predict the future of the United States?
At around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, I was sitting in our car on Morley Avenue waiting for my wife to shop at one of the very few stores open. The street was like a ghost town when two white couples of the younger generation passed by. On the back of one guy’s shirt was my student’s map with the words “America First.”
So why was this guy wearing this shirt through a devastated economic area on the U.S.-Mexico border? I never stopped him to ask, but I would say this shirt represents a selfish idea promoted by the current U.S. president. This president thinks he is the greatest president in the history of the United States. He sure does not see himself as many of us see him.
(Cripe is a resident of Nogales.)