The Keeper of the iBook

Howard Cosell, Grover and Thinking Different

By Mark Newhouse, <>
May 1, 2000

It's funny how big events in your life make you think back and remember. My sister got married last weekend - my little sister; the one who said she'd never get married and have kids. The occasion of her wedding caused me to think back on our relationship over the years. So maybe that is why a flood of memories came back for a totally unrelated reason last week.

My daughter had an ear infection, so I took the bus to meet my family at the doctor's office, instead of going home. The office is near the area where I grew up, and the bus route took me right through the old neighborhood. In fact, once I got off the bus, I walked part of the same route that I walked home from school every day for many years.

It's funny what triggers memories

But none of that was what made me remember; it was thinking about what the city bus fare was back when I was in elementary school: $0.15. And why did I remember that? Because I had a dime and a nickel taped inside my lunchbox, so I could take the city bus in case I ever missed the school bus, which only happened once.

I was in a program for "Gifted And Talented Education" or GATE, and was bussed to a school on the other side of town. Several of us waited for our bus in front of our neighborhood elementary school.

While we waited we often tossed a ball back and forth, or played other games. Occasionally the ball would go out into the street, or all the way across the street. Had we not been waiting right in front of the school, this wouldn't have been a problem. But there was the issue of the crossing guards. And they had power, not much power, but enough to abuse.

Power corrupts...

There was a crosswalk right in front of our bus stop. But that wasn't the crosswalk that was patrolled by the crossing guards. So when we ignored their crosswalk, and used the unguarded one, they were upset. Again, this really shouldn't have been a problem, except the principal of the school didn't like us. I could understand the kids not liking us because we were different (in GATE, going to a different school), but the principal was upset because we were taken from her school and sent to another one. Principals are territorial that way.

So I used the "wrong" crosswalk one too many times, and was called into the principal's office, along with another guy. Howard was a year older than me, black, and at the top of his class in BMX racing. My memory of Howard is seeing him with his arms around his friends, with his Grover puppet on one hand, walking around the schoolyard. Certainly different. I still don't know his last name, but I remember someone calling him Howard Cosell once.

So anyway, the principal kept us in her office just long enough for us to miss our bus. No problem, I had my bus fare in my lunchbox - except my lunchbox was not there. I found out later that one of my friends took it to school for me.

Quite an Adventure for a Third Grader

We ended up walking to our schools (mine was 2 miles farther than Howard's), stopping in every Circle K looking for a drinking fountain on the way. No one stopped us and asked why we weren't in school. I think I walked about 8 miles, arriving just before lunch-time. When I went to the office to check in I told them my story. It wasn't until a few years later that I understood why they reacted the way they did when I told them I walked to school with Howard Cosell.

So, what does this have to do with the iBook? Nothing really, but I was reminded about how different I was from a very early age. And how that has made me a perfect candidate for using Macs.

And a bright orange iBook.

P. S. While all of the events in the above narrative are true as I remember them, (I was in third grade when it happened, however) I found that there are quite a few subtle references to the original Think Different commercial. How many can you find? I'll publish them next week as a supplement to the Keeper of the iBook.

Mark Newhouse is the Web Designer for the public outreach arm of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories in Tucson, AZ, where he usually isn't so nostalgic.

The iBook image is courtesy Apple Computer, Inc. The iBook icon is courtesy the Iconfactory.

ibook iconMore Keeper of the iBook:

Keeper of the iBook Copyright © 2000, Mark Newhouse, all rights reserved

Keeper of the iBook, new every Monday