For about as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in World War II. I probably picked this up from my Grandfather, who was a prisoner in a Japanese prison camp during the war. Every time we visited him, he’d always fascinate me with horror stories about the Japanese.
One day, while my mother was shopping, I happened to look at the news rack, and noticed a magazine. It had a picture of a plane on the front cover – a Stuka dive bomber, if memory serves. I had already built a model of a Stuka, so I knew what it was immediately.
I crawled under the news rack, and opened the magazine. It was devoted from cover to cover to the Second World War. I soon realized it was part of a special series of one hundred magazines, to be published monthly. I had happened to stumble on the first issue.
Mom purchased that magazine for me, and many others after it. Eventually, she also purchased much of the series of $1 special books about World War II that the store also stocked. These were little digest sized books, each about one battle or weapon used in the war.
I found dad’s World War II series, and read it from cover to cover. I still have this series, and still enjoy reading parts of it occasionally.
One day I found an ad for the Military Book Club tucked inside a publication, and immediately sent away for four books, as the ad indicated. During the following months, I must have purchased a dozen books, all about World War II.
I eventually moved on to other subjects, but I’ve always returned back to this one. I continue to purchase books about World War II, and continue to find out new and interesting facts about how and why the war started.
My High School History Teacher
Mr. Nicholas was perhaps my favorite teacher of all (he was my high school teacher). He really understood how to motivate his students. He really knew how to make us want to learn. He had a flair for making a dull subject seem interesting, and we all had a good time besides.
He taught several different classes while I was in high school, and I took them all. For once, I was attentive, I sat up straight, and I even respected the man (which is something that I can only say about two or three teachers in my entire sentence to high school).
I clearly remember one of his lectures. He was talking about the Egyptian pyramids, and passed out some handouts which included many pictures and drawings. He started talking, slowly at first, then with more and more excitement. At first, he talked in what was almost a whisper, which forced the entire class to be quiet. We had to strain to hear every word.
Suddenly, he yelled. He flailed his hands. He jumped up on desks and stood on a chair. He did all kinds of acrobatics just to make his point. It certainly livened up an otherwise dull day.
Mr. Nicholas introduced me to board wargames, when one day he pulled out a box which contained five games titled “Pre-Stages Masterpack”. Each of these games simulated a different battle from the ancient world. Included was a Greek Campaign, a Roman battle, an ancient Egyptian battle and a few others.
We spent the whole semester playing those games. At first, we didn’t understand what he was trying to accomplish. After a few weeks, however, we learned the rules, loosened up and began to have a good time. We started to understand a little more about the ancient world, because Mr. Nicholas used those games to explain certain concepts of war and peace to us.
We played several other types of games, including Risk and Nuclear Destruction. In Nuclear Destruction, each student in the class controlled one country in the world. The country had factories with which to build either missiles or anti-missiles. Missiles could be fired at other countries. Anti-missiles shot down incoming missiles.
Alliances could be formed and broken up at will. Communications between the players was restricted to short written messages.
We managed to play two or three games of Nuclear Destruction a semester. It was fun, and Mr. Nicholas took advantage of that fun to teach us some things about modern politics.
Mr. Nicholas spent quite some time teaching us about the pyramids of Egypt. I’ve included some of the drawings from his handouts on this page.
We played several games of Nuclear Destruction, which I usually won. Some of the other students in the class drew me some pictures parodying my gaming abilities.
College History Teacher
Although I took many different courses in college, I would only consider a few teachers to be really outstanding. And outside of the computer courses, I would say that Dr. Young was just about the best. He taught a class called The History Of Western Civilization, and he taught it very well.
I must admit that most of the class was probably turned off by his teaching, because he was somewhat controversial. He wasn’t interested in dates and other boring facts … he was interested in who, what and where. He seemed to care more about whether or not we understood the subject than whether we had memorized who did what when.
He spoke about the Bible, and alienated much of the class. I found this topic very interesting, as he spoke about this book from a historical viewpoint. He claimed that the bible had been rewritten at least four times, and submitted evidence to the class to support this claim. As you can imagine, this produced some very spirited discussions, especially among some of the more devout class members.
Most of the time, however, Dr. Young spoke about western civilization. I could tell from the way he lectured that he loved the subject … unlike most teachers he actually enjoyed his students and he invited comments and criticism. He didn’t get angry or annoyed when student disagreed with him, which was something that I found very refreshing.
Dr. Young made me think about a subject which is generally considered to be very boring, about a subject which I was previously uninterested – the history of Europe after the dark ages. While I am very interested in history, I never cared much for that period of history. Dr. Young seemed to bring it alive for the first time.
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