Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Dear Arthur E. Wright Middle School
Dear A.E. Wright Middle School:
I attended your institution for three unremarkable years in the mid seventies. After so many years have gone by I no longer remember a great deal from my time there, and there is nothing about that time at your Middle School either so wonderful or so scarring as to make me want to do excavation of what memories do still keep a shaky hold in the far recesses of my brain.
Nevertheless I do have one small piece of unfinished business to take care of with Arthur E. Wright Middle School. It involves the Bicentennial.
In 1976 we in America celebrated the Bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of the U.S.A. I did not have a great deal of perspective as an 11 year old boy as to exactly how big of a deal it was in the scheme of historical observances, but it seemed to me extremely significant at the time. The U.S. mint printed up special new coins to mark the occasion, and A.E. Wright Middle School held a big Bicentennial Fair. We had booths. We made things that were vaguely colonial. The very nature of our Social Studies classes were altered by this impending event. But the event I remember above all was the balloon release. In the days before the fair every student at A.E. Wright filled out a small postcard with our name and the school address. The card said something along the lines of "If you find this card please put it in a nearby mailbox to send to A.E. Wright Middle School." We then attached each card to its own helium balloon and let it go into the sky.
Then we waited.
Some cards came back from as far away as Indio. Is that possible? Not, I mean, is it possible for a helium balloon to have traveled so far, rather, is it possible that I actually remember correctly the name of the town that the farthest venturing balloons made it to? I believe it is. The students whose cards came back from farthest away won a mint set of bicentennial coins. Cool.
I didn't win any coins.
I have never, actually, won anything notable in my life. A mint set of bicentennial coins would have been notable. A mint set of bicentennial coins is worth at this point anywhere from 12 to 15 dollars.
My card never came back.
But just the other day it occurred to me, it didn't come then. My card didn't get mailed back in 1976 or 1977, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have come later. I haven't checked in on its status for 38 years. It could have been mailed in from anywhere in the world over those past 38 years. I could still be the contest winner!
Has there been any mail for me since 1977? Also, if the postcard arrived from somewhere further east than Indio, say Chiriaco Summit or, be still my beating heart, all the way in Phoenix, do you still have any bicentennial coin mint sets to give out to your actual contest winner: me?
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,