Dipstick in Search of Oil, Part 1

John Linton

Westerly, United States

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

The year I was retiring I was told by the administration that I had been selected by the senior class to give their Backaloriate speech, hell I didn’t even know how to spell Baccalaureate, but I gave the administration rough drafts of three possible speeches. They told me they were all inappropriate for the occasion and asked if I’d consider writing another. I told them I doubted that I’d ever write one they would accept and told them to find someone else. They found my department head who delivered a most excellent speech. Here is the rough draft of speech number 2:

In 1980, I was sitting in a downtown bar talking to a colleague when he asked me how many years I had been teaching. I told him ten. He then pointed out that after ten years at any job the effectiveness of anyone becomes inversely proportional to the number of years they remain at that job. When the administration informed me that far too many of you voted for me to give the address at this year’s Baccalaureate my first thought was that this great honor had come twenty-two years too late. And you can slide an awfully long way down the slippery slope to total ineffectiveness in twenty-two years.

In college one of the many courses I did poorly at was Speech. On the first day of class the instructor took out an egg timer and informed us that if we wanted a good grade we would have to turn the egg timer to five minutes before beginning our speech and finish before it did. He went on to explain why the Gettysburg Address was such an important document. The guest speaker that day spoke for three hours and no one remembers a word he said while Ol’ Abe spoke for three minutes and everyone has to try to remember what he said whether they want to or not.

When I sat down to write this speech I wasn’t sure I could pull it off because, well, twenty-two years is a long time to be sliding down that slippery slope. Then I thought, what am I worried about? I’d just do what so many of you did in my class. I’d wait until the last minute and just rip off someone else’s work. So here goes.

No score and eighteen years ago your parents brought forth on this continent a new child conceived in the knowledge that Title IX and “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” had forever changed the meaning of the words “all men are created equal” and dedicated to the wisdom that “There is no i in team.”

Now we are engaged in Senior Week secure in the knowledge that any child so conceived and dedicated can surely graduate. We have come to dedicate a portion of this week to the handing out of scholarships. For people have given some of their money, often in loving memory of those who were taken from us too soon, that some of you might not have to give so much of yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot hallow these halls. Those of you who overachieved, those of you who worked to your potential, and those of you who beat the system, have consecrated it far above our powers to add or subtract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what you did here. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that we take increase devotion to that cause for which your parents have given every ounce of will power they possess; that we here highly resolve that these years shall not have been in vain; that you will manage to get a job and find some place else to live.

Part of my Every Picture Tells a Story set

Artwork Comments

  • Mojca Savicki
  • John Linton
  • mindym306
  • John Linton
  • lucin
  • John Linton
  • DesImages
  • John Linton
  • Mary Ann Reilly
  • John Linton
  • RonnieGinnever
  • John Linton
  • Marc Grossberg
  • John Linton
  • © Andrzej Goszcz,M.D. Ph.D
  • John Linton
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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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