I made a black-and-white slide show of Hamlet for Mrs. Bistrovic's
Honors English class. Here you see Hamlet (Gary Tripp), Laertes (Jon
Amate), and the queen (Carolyn Kameya) in a dramatic scene. Laertes gets
in the chest with a fishing rod, with tomato ketchup making a gory
splash. Meanwhile, the queen is choking on her poisonous can of 7-Up.
The picture in the slide show that got the most laughs was the one of
Ophelia drowning in a lake. To make the picture, I pushed a short stick
into a very muddy puddle, then put an old gardening glove on the stick,
so it looked like a hand reaching out of the water. There was a big
paper label next to the puddle, "OPHELIA", to make it clear which scene was being depicted.
By May 1971, I came to the realization that I didn't enjoy, nor belong in,
Honors English. All that advanced literary analysis was just way over
my head. So Mrs. Bistrovic did not seem very surprised, and did not try
to talk me out of it, when I told her I was dropping out of the honors
program and going back to regular English my senior year.
I enjoyed regular English much better, especially the classes taught by
Barbara Hawkins, "Heroes of the Past" and "Chaucer." Mrs. Hawkins told
everyone in the class that the Miller's Tale in the Canturbury Tales
would not be used in school because its bawdy material is inappropriate
for young readers. So naturally, everyone read that chapter on their
own as soon as they could. She knew how to make English interesting!