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Ghosts and Gumshoes

In third grade I was struggling in school. I had just moved from a school where I was one of the top students to another school in another city where I was average or worse.

My third grade teacher was an “old school” teacher. Lots of homework even on the weekends; long hard assignments. She was like Mr. Ratburn. She would have also noticed that fragment sentence in this paragraph here.

She was also very anti television. She did not like her students talking about television or saying they watched it. She banned her son who was already an adult from watching tv as a child. I remember lying to her saying that I had never seen an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; even though I had been watching the show for years before I entered her class.

She was very anti book franchise. She didn’t like her students reading “series” books unless they were considered classics. No Sweet Valley (and its spinoffs), Baby Sitters Club, and other book franchises I forget; possibly American Girl books.

I struggled with school work especially English. My teacher was a grammar tyrant. She did not like sentences that started with the word “because”. She wanted use to answer writing questions with part of the question that was asked. She would get so pissed about this and thought we already knew? We were THIRD GRADERS! How would we know if nobody had ever told us. Finally at about the middle of the year, frustrated by this, she explained. If she would have in the first place there would not have been a problem and she could have gotten the work that was up to her standards. I got so many “C”s on my writing assignments because of that! She did not like the class to use the words “things”, “stuff”, ”a lot” and ”nice”. Even as I’m writing this I can hear her in the back of my head with all her grammar rules. I was in her class twenty years ago!

I found the answer; a show about junior high aged kids in Brooklyn, New York and wearing trendy clothing teaching me about reading, grammar and English; it was Ghostwriter.

I was really into this show as a kid. I remember I used to have a “clue notebook” I used to write the episode’s clues in. I used to try to make pen necklaces like they had in the show. But they were poorly made and broke before the episode was over.

Nobody in my class ever mentioned that they watched the show or even liked it. I assumed the teacher didn’t approve of the show since it was on television. Until one day in class when we were doing an assignment on mystery stories and crime solving. Then the teacher asked the class who watched Ghostwriter. I was afraid to admit it at first. Until she said it was ok to watch that show since it was educational. A few other students raised their hands besides me. I’m not sure if the show was not popular with the class, they did not know about it, or they were afraid to admit they watched it to the teacher. 


My favorite character was Lenni. I guess because she was the fashionable musician. Calvin was pretty funny too even if he couldn't see Ghostwriter. 

I was also bad with geography.

I’ve loved game shows ever since I was about two or three years old. I was such a big fan of the Price is Right and a lot of those “messy” game shows like Double Dare, Finders Keepers, Fun House and the like. (This was before I knew Greg worked on Double Dare before he got his Carmen Sandiego gig)

That was Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I never knew such a game show could be educational, and on PBS. Jeopardy was over my head at the time. 

I learned about the location of the countries and also how to pronounce them. I also learned what a warrant was.


Rockapella: I use to sing along with the theme song horribly. They had some crazy hair and wore vintage looking clothes like from the 1940s. They did most if not all the music cues. I think they got a lot of fans of people who were children when they watched the show. 

I liked the show so much I named one of my trolls Greg. The troll came wearing a blue sport jacket that looked like the one Greg wore on the show. I think I might have had a crush on Greg.

I really wanted to be a contestant on the show. I think I was a bit too young and the show was taped in New York, and I lived in California.

I loved the wackiness of the show. I remember Greg had a cootie catcher with kinds of meat on it. Some of the characters were so funny like Nana Rap, Kafka, and Patty Larceny. I think Patty was my favorite crook.

I remember this one episode I thought was really funny. In the second round the gumshoes go to The United States of America. One of the locations on the board was labeled “Greg’s Apartment”

I did catch season 1 reruns while watching season 2 of a different PBS station.

I did not like the Where in Time sequel. I thought the Engine Crew were annoying. They danced too much! It’s funny because by the time Where in Time was out I was old enough to be a contestant. The Where on Earth cartoon didn’t catch my interest and I stopped watching it after a few episodes. I don’t think I’ve ever played a Carmen Sandiego computer game.

This show helped me a lot. I still remember a lot of things I learned on the show. Well all the stuff that is still relevant. I remember the largest islands of the world song. These skills lasted well into college. A lot of people think I’m some kind of geography savant, but I credit it all to the show.

I was not very good at math. Maybe I should have watched a lot more Square One.

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AceNThaHole Posted on Mar 28, 2013 at 07:39 PM

My teachers were mostly okay with what we liked in school. I had alot of classes that dealt with media and art so, they were mostly accepting of that stuff. But if they caught you with a game at school they werent so accepting

raptor Posted on Mar 28, 2013 at 06:15 PM

I think teachers just hated technology in general at my school. They would insult games, VHS, television shows, movies, and just about any other form of entertainment that didnt involve going outside or cracking open a book.

I like this article. Good job

pikachulover Posted on Mar 28, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Yeah once I lost one, but the girl gave me a replacement ball.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 27, 2013 at 08:19 PM

Did you ever lose an oversize bouncy ball on top of the roof of your school? Some of us have had that problem around here, right shakin?

pikachulover Posted on Mar 27, 2013 at 06:59 PM

I had more personality clashes with teachers in high school and college. Without my 3rd grade teacher, and struggling in class. I don't know if I would have discovered those great shows.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 27, 2013 at 12:44 PM

This was a fun read. Every teacher and class has it's own unwritten "requirements" in order to stay in their good graces. Sometimes this meant NOT being yourself.

It puts me in mind of a few of my own high school teachers. Mr. Blaine was a mathematics teacher, and a Jehovah's Witness. Often, during Christmas and Easter seasons, students of some of his classes would feign ignorance of his religion and present him Christmas presents or Easter baskets. LOL.

My art teacher was especially picky about the types of "art" you enjoyed. She tolerated me and my friend and our fascination with comic book art, only because we were probably some of the best artists in the school (keep in mind, my school was very small, so this should not be construed as bragging). She even let us repaint the mural on the wall behind her desk from a Prince - Purple Rain piece to a Star Wars piece. LOL. I think after our graduation she immediately let someone else cover up such nonsense.

Thanks for this!

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