In the 1960s, I loved Sam Cooke’s No. 1 hit, “Wonderful World.” I sang along every time he came on the radio:
Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
Still don’t know much about biology, or science or French, but earlier this week I had a refresher course on a bit of history. I don’t remember that subject ever being this fascinating. It was the best three hour class I’ve ever taken and when it’s all said and done there will be no test.
Jim and I are among 50-some people who signed up for Dr. Robert (Bob) Boyd’s class, “What Ever Happened To . . . .?” It’s through the University of North Dakota’s (OLLI) Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Sessions are held in the auditorium at Parkwood Place in Grand Forks. With us at our table are Joe and LaVonne Hootman, Jean Dempsey and Joyce Driscoll.
If you are like me, you’ve often wondered, “what ever happened to so and so.” It might have been a singer like Sam Cooke, someone from history or a celebrity who flashed before the world and then vanished.
This particular session, the first of three, was on, “What ever happened to the signers of the Declaration of Independence.” Bob developed this course himself gleaning information from many different sources.
We learned that the five writers of the document were: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Philip Livingston. Bob had their pictures plus those of the 56 signers on his power point and told us where each was born and when, how old they were when they signed and when they died.
During his research, Bob said he was struck by how young and ordinary some of the men were. They had flaws just like we do, and they suffered greatly because of their involvement with the declaration.
We reviewed the Stamp Act, the Boston Tea Party, the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, and how the Treaty of Paris brought an end to the Revolutionary War.
“As I looked at it,” Bob said, “I couldn’t help but think it all had to have had a guiding hand.”
Our memories were refreshed on the 13 original colonies and King George III of England. As he studied each one individually, Bob often asked himself, “Would I have liked to have dinner with them?”
Here’s just a taste of what we learned: Benjamin Franklin was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence. He died at the age of 84 from gout after which the government declared 30 days of mourning.
John Adams was 40 when he signed. He returned to England as a minister to Great Britain before serving as George Washington’s vice president and then becoming president himself.
Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he signed. He had exquisite taste and no money. He spent his last 17 years at Monticello, Va., and when he died at age 83, his last words were “I resign myself to my God and my child to my country.”
Session No. 2, Nov. 6, is on, “What ever happened to the descendants of Abraham Lincoln?” Bob will discuss the marriage of Lincoln and his wife, Mary, their parenting styles, their children and give a detailed discussion of each of Lincoln’s descendants. I can’t wait to hear how the Lincoln’s parented their children.
Session No. 3 is Nov. 13. It’s titled, “What ever happened to Pontius Pilate?” Here Bob has researched the governance structure of the Roman Empire at the time of Pilate. He will talk about that role and the known activities of Pilate, including his involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Bob, who is North Dakota born and bred, has been a high school math teacher, an assistant principal and principal of the largest high school in the state, a dean of continuing education and is currently Vice President Emeritus for Student and Outreach Services at UND after serving 32 years. He and his wife, Dawn, have two daughters and four grandchildren.
I hold this truth to be self-evident: Bob Boyd enjoys teaching and has a passion for history.