WHEN THE LIGHTBULB GOES ON
Who will bell the cat? Is the story connected with this question still commonly known? Perhaps not, so here it is in brief. A group of house mice are being terrorized by a cat. They have a meeting to determine what to do. A young mouse suggests that a bell be put on the cat so all mice will know when it is near. The youngster is hailed for his plan. Then a wise, old mouse asks, “And who will bell the cat?” The idea, which at first sounded so good, is now shown to be impractical. Fair to say, belling the cat was not a good idea. Age’s wisdom triumph’s youth’s rashness.
However, this story could have a different ending – one that would exalt the daring of youth rather than the wisdom of age. After the old mouse asks his question, a young mouse could call out, ”I will try to bell the cat. It would be better to die in an act of heroism than live the life of a coward in fear. Who is with me?” Several other young mice join the crusade. The story ends with us never knowing whether the cat is successfully belled or not.
Great ideas often require exceptional individuals to make them a reality. It is not so hard to dream up schemes, but it is often difficult to carry them out. I’ve had bad and good ideas, but it seems, almost always, the good ones needed someone exceptional to bring the idea to reality. In the early years of Seton, we often came up with ideas for social events that we would throw together almost spur-of-the-moment. If we got the Brock, Gregory and Muench families behind them, they were bound to be a success.
One time we (actually I) came up with the idea of a box social with the boys bringing the meals and the girls bidding on them. We decided to have it as an evening event. It sounded fun to me. Mr. Scheetz and I were the sponsors, so we arrived early to set up tables and chairs in the old carpeted gym. Then we waited for the students. Here they came: two boys with dinners in hand and zero girls. It was hilarious. We sat down with the boys and ate their meals. They were good – it was my first taste of Rice-a-Roni. We spent the evening laughing about the failed event. In our conversation we decided that we should try to come up with a worse event that would be an even greater failure and then advertise it with posters around the school. We decided on the first annual “Winter Hike and Tin Can Collecting Expedition”. We should have added on that after the hike there would be a box social with every meal featuring liver and onions because there were students who inquired about the hike. So I guess the box social remains the greatest failure of Seton social events ever.
I was trying to think of my greatest contribution to Seton’s social life. I think it might be The Small Ball Game that I invented for the first St. Nick’s Carnival. The first carnivals were held in the downstairs classrooms of the old building and in the carpeted gym. The posters for the novel carnival event read “The Small Ball Game – it might be fun.” and included a drawing of the actual size of the small ball. The object of the game was to bounce a small ball (one of the super bouncing balls) into a tall, narrow wicker basket. The balls didn’t bounce true, so it was a challenge. I would still enjoy playing this game to this day.
The only other game I remember from that first carnival was Mr. P’s contribution. He had people stuff marshmallows in their mouths and then try to whistle. Well, that might be fun, but I’ll take the Small Ball Game over the Whistling Marshmallow Mouth Game any day. The Small Ball Game – it was fun.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.