BookLikes is not allowing me to "connect" this post with a book that is in the BL catalogue and is listed on my shelves. I DON'T KNOW WHY.
Even when I "search on my shelves," it says not found. As you can see, the book page shows that it's on my "Read" shelf, which is where I put it when I entered it a few days ago. I own this book, the 1966 paperback edition.
Why do I own it? Why do I own Coe's The Maya? Because of Charles.
Charles Cooper Schlereth was my high school Spanish teacher my junior and senior years at Arlington High School. He was a graduate of the City College of Mexico City, where he had earned a degree in Pre-Columbian History. As a result, we got a lot more history and culture than most foreign language students.
Our textbook for Spanish 3 was the third in the Holt, Rinehart and Winston series, Español: Leer, Hablar y Escribir. Formatted into nine issues of a magazine titled "Leer," the book presented articles, columns, advertisements, and other features originally published in magazines and newspapers in Spanish-speaking countries.
I enjoyed it so much that many years later -- 1981 or thereabouts -- I paid a visit to the high school and managed to obtain a copy of the book, which was no longer used as a current text. I still have it. Of course!
My senior year, we didn't have a formal text. Instead, Charles selected several popular novels for us to read and discuss, among them Doña Barbara, Lluvia Roja, and Pensativa. We watched the film version of Doña Barbara starring María Félix. I still remember the opening line of the novel, though nothing of the plot stuck with me.
"Cuando el bongo remonta el Arauca.. . . "
Our fourth year class was somewhat illegal, a distinction we all took pride in. School policies required that any class have a minimum of ten students registered or it would be cancelled. On the first day, we had only nine students present -- I can probably name all of us if I think about it long enough -- out of the ten registered. One of the ten, however, was known to have moved away, leaving us under the legal minimum. For the first week or two of classes, Charles dutifully marked Kevin Harvell present each day until the time passed for cancellation of classes.
Charles talked occasionally about the idea of taking us to Mexico City, perhaps over spring break, but the topic usually faded. Then one Friday morning we nine took matters into our own hands.
Our class met the first period of the day, and we were all seated like good students a few minutes before the bell rang. Charles had not appeared yet, and we started talking about this Mexico trip. How we came up with the idea, I don't remember, but we decided to go on strike.
At the beginning of the year, Charles had told us we would no longer speak English in class. We were, after all, fourth year students and we should be able to converse in Spanish by now. Sometimes we struggled -- we all had dictionaries and referenced them often! -- but the rule had stuck. So when Charles entered the room that Friday morning, we simply refused to speak at all.
"No estamos hablando," we said in response to his comments and questions.
That is, we weren't going to talk until he agreed to look into the possibility of taking us to Mexico City over spring break.
That was Friday. He agreed to see about putting something together, and we consented to participate in class once again. And by Monday, he brought us the proposal:
Yes, my BookLikes friends, we went from northwest suburban Chicago to Mexico City and back . . . by bus.
(My brother on the right, my dad holding my sister on the far right.)
It was cold the day we left; everyone else was in long pants and heavy sweaters. I was the only one in cut-offs and a lightweight shirt. Two days later it was 90-something degrees in Waco, Texas, and everyone else melted. I was comfortable.
We spent a total of 100 hours on the bus -- 51 hours down, 49 hours back -- and only had six days or so in Mexico City. We didn't see nearly enough. The pyramids, of course.
And Obregón's arm.
(For those interested, the ultimate fate of Obregón's arm is here
I've remained interested in MesoAmerican history and prehistory ever since. I have lots of weird books, as a result.