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15th Anniversary!
BHS Bellevue High School
Bellevue, WA  USA
Thursday December 13, 2018
1966
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Today's Featured Biography

 

John Manson

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

BY JOHN MANSON

I WAS BORN IN EUREKA, CALIFORNIA, MAY 8, 1948. SINCE WE SHARE THE SAME BIRTHDAY, 64 YEARS APART, IT IS NATURAL THAT HARRY TRUMAN AND I BOTH DID A LOT OF HOLLERING THE REST OF THAT YEAR. AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMAN LEFT OFFICE, I MUST HAVE GOTTEN THE IDEA THAT I HAD TAKEN HIS PLACE. AS HIS PRONOUNCEMENTS BECAME MORE SUBDUED, MINE GREW MORE STRIDENT. DURING MY FIRST YEAR OF FORMAL EDUCATION AT THE CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AT BERKELEY IN 1953-54, I ATTEMPTED TO VETO EVERY ITEM OF LEGISLATION AND EVERY MANDATE THAT MY ELDERS PLACED IN FRONT OF ME. AS MUCH AS I SCREAMED "NO! NO!" AND BANGED MY HEAD ON THE FLOOR, ALL MY VETOES WERE OVERRIDDEN. DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS, I GOT PLENTY OF PRACTICE WITH ORATORY, TESTIMONY, SELF-INCRIMINATION AND CONFESSION IN FRONT OF THE PRINCIPLE, AND SOMETIMES, MUCH TO MY SATISFACTION, IN FRONT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT.

IN 1961, PURSUANT TO MY FATHER'S JOB TRANSFER AND PROMOTION, MY PARENTS MOVED FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TO BELLEVUE, AND WERE NICE ENOUGH TO TAKE ME ALONG. I SPENT THE NEXT TWO YEARS AT THE WASHINGTON STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND IN VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON.

A DRAMATIC NEW FRONTIER OPENED UP FOR ME WHEN I ENROLLED IN BELLEVUE HIGH SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER, 1963. THE UNSTINTING SUPPORT FOR ME BY MY PARENTS, BHS ADMINISTRATORS, MY TEACHERS AND YOU, MY CLASSMATES IN THIS STRANGE NEW WORLD OF PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION CONTRIBUTED IMMEASURABLY TO ALL MY SUBSEQUENT SUCCESS. IN RETROSPECT, THOSE THREE YEARS WERE THE MOST FORMATIVE PERIOD IN MY FORMAL EDUCATION.

I SPENT THE EQUIVALENT OF TWO PRESIDENTIAL TERMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION. THE FIRST TERM RESULTED IN A B.A. IN GEOGRAPHY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON. DURING THE SECOND TERM IN GRADUATE SCHOOL, I WAS TRYING TO FIND MYSELF, AN AWESOME PREOCCUPATION FOR A GEOGRAPHY MAJOR. EARLY ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 12, 1974, I FOUND MYSELF----ON A GREYHOUND BUS FROM SYRACUSE, NEW YORK TO BOSTON.

WHILE I HAD NO PROSPECT OF GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT IN MASSACHUSETTS, I LATCHED ONTO A COUPLE OF ODD JOBS. THE ODDEST OF THEM WAS A JOB AS A BEER TASTER, WHICH LEAD IN TWO UNSTEADY STEPS TO THE BEGINNING OF MY CAREER. MY MOTTO IN LIFE HAS BECOME, "YOU HAVE TO BE SOMEWHERE TO GET SOMEWHERE." ONE DAY, WHILE HARD AT WORK TIPPLING AT THE TAP, I LEARNED THAT THERE WAS AN OPENING AT THE PERKINS BRAILLE SHOP AT HOWE PRESS. AFTER BEING AT HOWE PRESS FOR SEVEN MONTHS, I HEARD THAT SOME FOLKS FROM THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE HAD BEEN VISITING THE MUSEUM AT THE ADJACENT PERKINS SCHOOL CAMPUS. ONE OF MY SUPERVISORS, KNOWING OF MY INTEREST IN HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY, ENCOURAGED ME TO INVESTIGATE THE POSSIBILITY OF EMPLOYMENT AT THE NPS.

I INTERVIEWED SUCCESSFULLY FOR AN ENTRY LEVEL POSITION AS AN HISTORICAL INTERPRETER, AND REPORTED FOR DUTY AT BOSTON NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK ON MARCH 27, 1978.

THE COMBINATION OF 12 YEARS PROVIDING FRONTLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND HISTORICAL PROGRAMS AND 18 YEARS BEING A SUPERVISOR FOR THOSE CONDUCTING THESE SAME ACTIVITIES HAS GIVEN ME A FASCINATING AND REWARDING CAREER. I AM MOST GRATEFUL TO ALL THOSE WHO HELPED ME ALONG THE WAY.

ON JULY 4, 2008, I DECLARED MY INDEPENDENCE FROM THE REGIMEN OF WORK, HAVING TURNED IN MY RANGER BADGE AND RETIRED ON JULY 3. IMAGINE, I WAS ONLY 20 YEARS OLDER THAN BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WAS WHEN HE "WENT OUT OF BUSINESS." I FOLLOW THE BEST OF DR. FRANKLIN'S ADVICE TO THE LETTER, ARISING EARLY TO SPEND THE DAY INDULGING IN ALL MY FAVORITE PASTIMES: READING, LETTER WRITING, AND WALKING ON THE BEACH WITH MRS. MANSON. ON A REALLY SPECIAL DAY, I'M PRESENTED WITH OR INVENT SOME BRAND NEW CHALLENGE TO KEEP THE BRAIN IN GEAR. WITH RESPECT TO MY APPETITE FOR LEARNING, NOTHING MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE MY FIRST SESSION IN MR. HEITING'S 1ST PERIOD GERMAN CLASS AT BHS ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1963. NOWADAYS, I AM A LIBERATED HOME SCHOOLER, IN A SCHOOL WHERE EVERY ROOM IS HOME ROOM.

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Rodger Bigby

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