Back of the Book — September 2, 2023

Once again it's getting late. I mostly talked about my first day at real school, with a little prologue about kindergarten, on this program. I plan to update this Web page pretty soon, so check back for that update.

You can now listen to this program on the official WBAI Archive.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do.

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee on this Web site. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting will be on Wednesday September 13, at 7:00 PM. That meeting will be held on ZOOM, even though ZOOM compromises privacy and security. That meeting will be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 48 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

We had a LSB meeting this past Wednesday August 9. I gave a Treasurer's Report and the written version is here. The General Manager solicited LSB members to help to do some things related to the station's financial situation. I don't know how effective that's going to be.

The WBAI/Pacifica elections are going on. If you contributed enough, $25, to become a member by June 30, you'll get to vote. There is apparently a Candidates' Debate on WBAI today from 4 PM to 6 PM.

Some years ago the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month, subject to change by the LSB, so we have the following schedule:

These meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, then I could, and then I couldn't again. Now I can again and there are a whole bunch of archive blurbs up there now.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says Display, and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click GO and you'll see only this Back of the Book program. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. You'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says Display, and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click GO and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have some alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. As of November 2020, Back of the Book airs weekly.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

Updated Program Note:We were suddenly informed this past Tuesday that we are in fact preempted on September 9th, which is when we'd planned to have our annual anniversary program. So we'll be celebrating the 37th anniversary of this radio program two weeks from now on September 16. Back of the Book first aired on September 8th, 1986, and the 9th was the closest air date to that this year, but then the big pitching emergency happened. We certainly hope to be able to present an annual program on September 16.

St. Francis Xavier's school
St. Francis Xavier's School

It was Back to School time on this program! I first went to a school for kindergarten at PS 39 on 6th Ave. & 8th St. In Brooklyn when I was five years old. At once point early in my time at kindergarten my mother asked me how old my kindergarten teacher was, I told her that the teacher was old. When my mother saw her she was quite amused because she saw that the teacher was in her early 20s. To a five year early 20s is old that's old.

In about April of 1953, may parents moved us to an apartment on First St. and 7th Ave. In the course of time I turned six and it was time for me to start going to real school. The adventure that was real school started for me about 70 years ago, in September 1953.

I went with my mother to get registered at St. Francis Xavier's School at 763 President St. Between 6th and 7th Avenues. In Brooklyn. The principal then was Brother Dennis O.S.F. and he was not at all sure that we qualified for that school. Apparently where we lived was on the border of the St. Francis Xavier parish. I later knew kids from Garfield Place, one black closer to the school and church than we were on First St. and 7th Ave., and they had gone to a Catholic school off in the opposite direction. In the course of discussion Brother Dennis castigated my mother about waiting a month after I'd been born to get me baptized.

My mother must have won the argument because some time later in September she brought me to my first day of real school, I was entering the First Grade. The teacher was Miss Eleanor A. Donnelly, a lay teacher. They used to have female teachers for the lower grades to make the transition from home to school easier for the little kids.

One thing I ran into right away was the huge, metal doors of the school. They didn't really close. I always wondered if they were hollow. They were heavy and if the wind was against them. I was 36 inches tall and I weighed 36 pounds in the First Grade so I couldn't bring an awful lot of force to bear against those huge doors. It was very hard to open them. They may not have been in the best of shape. their edges did not come together and the bottom of the doors, only one actually opened, stuck out and you had to watch out that you didn't get that shard of metal ripping across your ankle. The First Grade boys entered the school through that door. Later on I was one of the little kids who could be observed struggling to open that huge door in Winter with a cold wind blowing.

We were on the all-boys side of the school. There was a girls' side but at that point we had nothing to do with them. Seating arrangements were an interesting, and in themselves educational, part of Miss Donnelly's teaching theories. I assume she had teaching theories to motivate the often frenetic seating arrangements she used in her classroom. The first seat in the first row was where the smartest boy sat. The teacher decided who that was, and that status changed often. One mother on the first day of school immediately shoved her son into that top seat in the classroom. He was very obese for a 6 year old and she had quite a struggle to squeeze him in there. I forget how many rows of seats there were, but there must have been between six and eight rows. Those desks were bolted to the floor and had been there since the school had opened in 1914. The last row of desks in Miss Donnelly's First Grade classroom was for the stupid kids, as the class culture had it. The kid who sat in the last seat of the last row was the stupidest boy in the class. The seating got rearranged frequently. Not doing well on a pop quiz, we didn't call them that they were just tests, could move you up or down in the seating order. If Miss Donnelly didn't like something you said or the way you looked you could end up banished to the last seat in the last row, although that mostly seemed to be the domain of one particular boy who wasn't bright, but who got quite an education in how he might be treated for the rest of his life. I think he left school pretty early. Different ideas, wrong answers to questions and how you looked to Miss Donnelly determined where you got re-seated, and over the course of that semester I think that everyone got re-seated more than once in Miss Donnelly's 1A. I got to sit in the first seat in the first row once or twice. I never stayed there long though. I also got put in one of the lower ranked rows at least once.

Achievement was of course the big deal in that class. As any six year old would, I got into it. I remember running up to 7th Ave. one day shouting to my mother that I'd gotten 100% and a gold star on a test.

I have more to write about here, but it's getting late and I really want to get this Web page posted before the program. I'll come back to this page pretty soon.

sars cov-2 wearing a fancy yellow mask
It's Holding Steady at a Higher Number

The CDC Web site isn't giving us all that much information about COVID-19 in America, although they're saying that Total Deaths in Americas are at 1,139,457 which means that 855 people have died of COVID-19 since our last program one week ago, about the same as the previous week. We're hoping to get our COVID-19 booster EG.5 variant in time to avoid getting sick.

Radio's Pickles of the North talked about yet another new variant that's showing up in America.

The pandemic is not over. Pickles of the North and I are still keeping our masks on. We've both gotten our bivalent vaccinations, and our bivalent booster shots. We're hearing that the new boosters are going to be ready as early as next month or surely by October. We'll probably wait until mid-October to get our new booster short against COVID-19 and the latest flu shot at the same time. It's a ritual we've gone though for the past couple of years.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One open list that no longer exists was the WBAI-specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to have live interaction with people posting on the Goodlight Board during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On used to alternate with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

There used to be a number of mailing lists related to Pacifica and WBAI. Unfortunately, they were all located on Yahoo! Groups. When Yahoo! Groups was totally shut down in December 2020, all of those mailing lists ceased to exist. One year earlier their file sections and archives of E-mails, had been excised leaving only the ability to send E-mails back and forth among the members. Now it's all gone. Older Back of the Book program Web pages tell a little more about those lists.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

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