Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ooops! The wrong valedictorian got the credit!

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*

One of the problems I occasionally face as I rummage through the many batches of papers I have stolen from my parents home in Tiptonville has to do with identifying who's "stuff" belongs to whom.  For the most part this is an easy task.  Anything that can be dated after August of 1977 can only be attributed to mother.  And anything written in long hand is pretty easy for me since I have read so many of the letters written by James Neville and Catherine in 1936 and again in 1944 through 1946.

But every now and then I come across a type-written item that is mixed in with stuff that clearly belongs to both of them.  With a little detective work and a bit of common sense I manage to figure out who should get the credit for each piece of writing.

But about two weeks ago I found a valedictory speech that was completely type written.  I studied the document thoroughly and found no references to the name of a school, the name of any individual, nor any geographical clues.  The entire speech was scanned and included in the posting on June 25th and as you can see there are no meaningful hand written margin notes. 

Since I could only go by the content of the speech itself, I decided that Mother was the author.  I really don't recall how I arrived at that conclusion but I have decided that James Neville was looking down from his lofty perch frowning at being slighted by my mistake.

Ben Neville LeDuke and family
To correct my error he "pushed" a new box under my nose that contained an old cigar box stuffed with report cards from several elementary grades including Grade 8; all bearing the name of James Neville LeDuke.  All cards were signed by Ben Neville LeDuke and only a few "B's" were found mixed in with only "A's."  The B's were pre-7th grade and were for "deportment."  I had to look that word up to see what it meant; "The manner in which one conducts oneself."  Apparently, pitching an occasional "LeDuke fit" will not get you an A.

I knew that Daddy was valedictorian of his high school class.  His four high school report cards are also in this box and mixed in with only A's and A+'s are just a few A-'s.  It would seem that James Neville "conducted" himself better during his high school years.

Well, back to the apology I am offering to my father.  In this same cigar box is the following draft of what I now know to be "his" valedictory speech which he would have written in 1929 at the age of 14.  I'm not exactly sure if this new find, two page instead of three, is the first draft of the speech or the final draft.  Nor am I sure which one is the version that he would have given from the stage at the actual graduation event.

Either way, I am impressed that this 14 year-young man could write such a fine piece, receive an "A" for it as you will see on the actual copy enclosed below, and still be active enough after 36 years floating around heaven with a harp to nudge his son into giving him proper credit for his efforts.

Sorry Dad.


Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)

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