Remembering My Cousin

This is a week where historical memory, personal reflection, and profound sadness merge as I remember my cousin, Alisha Levin.  Alisha was one of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Like many of you I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was at school in the middle of a class when one of my colleagues pulled me aside to give me the news.  For some reason I went back into my classroom and continued with the lesson.  After a few minutes I stopped in my tracks and tried to convey to my students what I had just been told.  Once the class was dismissed I walked into a classroom with a television and sat transfixed as I watched the re-runs of the initial impact an then the live coverage of the second plane hitting the South Tower.   I should have known immediately what the impact of the second plane meant for my family.  Once the first plane hit Alisha left a message on her parent’s phone to let them know that she was unharmed.  That was the last that anyone heard from her.  [Alisha's library card was eventually returned to her parents.]  I am almost ashamed to admit that I did not make the connection between the collapse of the towers and my cousin until late afternoon even as I watched a continuous loop of those horrific images.  It wasn’t until my parents called.  My wife picked up the phone and for some reason just from the look on her face I finally realized what I had inexplicably overlooked.  The next few days were incredibly difficult as family and friends posted messages on various internet message boards and posters around Lower Manhattan.  I went back to school and tried to place the day’s events into some context.  My students had plenty of questions, but unfortunately I had no answers.

Alisha was 33 and worked as a vice-president of human resources for Fuji Bank which was located on the 82nd floor of the South Tower.  She absolutely loved living and working in New York City.  Alisha was very close to her sister Mindy and her two sons, Jacob and Alex.  Though Alisha worked very hard she regularly took the train home to Philadelphia on weekends to spend time with family.  She also loved to travel and was planning a trip to Italy the following summer.  Click here and here for articles about Alisha that appeared in the Northeast Times on the one-year anniversary of 9-11.

When I was younger I loved spending time with Alisha and her sister Mindy along with the rest of the family in Philadelphia over the holidays.  Alisha and I were one year apart so we always had a great deal to talk about. We debated whether The Who or Led Zeppelin was the better Rock Band and we talked generally about what was going on in our lives.  It was not uncommon for the two us to find a place on the steps overlooking the rest of the family to talk or make fun of my brother.  What stands out in my memory is her laugh.  Alisha had a laugh that simply filled up the room; it was one of those laughs that came from deep within.

Alisha attended Hofstra and Columbia University.  I did my undergraduate work just outside the city and made it a point to meet up with Alisha on a few occasions.  I remember one particular visit where we walked what seemed to be the entire downtown area around NYU and the Village.  Alisha had a way of making you feel special so just sitting in a cafe was one of the most pleasant ways to pass the time with her.  My only regret now is that I didn’t make it a point to spend more time with Alisha.  She had a big heart and cared deeply about family and friends.  [Click here for a memorial album that includes some very touching thoughts from friends and even strangers.]

Alisha’s death has left a deep hole in my family.  At times it has been very difficult for the family to come together as there have been disagreements about the best way to remember Alisha.  Fortunately those disagreements are in the past and my family seems to be coming back together.  While I care deeply about the way New York city will choose to remember the victims and re-shape “Ground Zero” I find it difficult to think about the issue without becoming distracted by my personal connection to the event.

I miss you very much.

“No One Has Ever Said That Before”

So far I am really enjoying my Civil War class.  While this is only the fourth day of class we are now right in the middle of an interesting discussion about the causes of the war and secession.  We are working our way through James McPherson’s North and South Magazine article titled, "What Caused the Civil War" [Vol. 4, No. 1: pp. 12-22].  The students must write a 2-page thesis summary of the article.  After our next article by William Freehling each student will have to choose an article from a list and lead the class discussion on that particular day.  The idea is to create something close to a college seminar. 

The McPherson article is ideal as it is well written and the argument builds in a way that is easy to follow if read with a critical eye.  Anyway, today we were trying to explain the apparent shift in the content of the speeches of both Davis and Stephens in reference to the role of slavery as a cause of secession.  While Davis and Stephens elevate the role of slavery above all other conditions in their speeches in 1860-61 they retreat to the states’ rights position following the war.  Between McPherson’s argument which places slavery historically at the center of the antebellum political debates and by asking the students to think of why white Southerners like Davis and Stephens would have an interest in ignoring the issue, they were able to begin to see the broader problem of why Americans have chosen to ignore the importance of slavery. 

Towards the end of the class one of my new students pointed out that she had been taught U.S. and Virginia history at least four times in recent years.  I should note that this is a new student who transferred from a local public school this year to finish her senior year.  She is extremely bright and apparently had taken all of the AP course that were offered at her old school.  At no point was slavery raised as a salient factor in explaining secession and Civil War in those previous classes.  She said it with just a hint of confusion as if something important had been kept from her.  It was nice to see a student step back and consider the history of what she had been taught about a specific subject.  Hopefully this will translate into a healthy skepticism that will involve more questioning of the people who appear as authorities in the classroom — INCLUDING YOURS TRULY!

Trouble for David Eicher or Sympathy For James McPherson

[Hat-Tip to Fred Ray at ACW Gaming and Reading]

Looks like David Eicher is being accused by William Frassanito of sloppy research and unethical research practices in his 2001 Gettysburg pictorial study.  The Amazon reviews are anything but encouraging.  Frassanito himself has cited numerous examples of photographs that were misidentified or taken from his own well-regarded pictorial before and after studies of Civil War battlefields.  From Frassanito’s lengthy critique:

Although quality-control issues likewise abound in Mr. Eicher’s book, such as
the presence of a surprising number of blurry historical photos and the
reproduction of numerous photos in an almost postage-stamp-sized format, etc.,
etc., it is the manner in which his historical photo presentation was put
together that should be of alarming concern to all serious students of the Civil
War. Certainly the unacknowledged, systematic, and wholesale duplication of
someone else’s original work, and the portrayal of that work as if original to
the duplicator; the clandestine acquisition of photographs from copyrighted
publications; and the deceptive manipulation of photo credits, are all
disreputable practices that should be condemned.

James McPherson, who wrote the Foreward to Eicher’s book has decided to disassociate himself from the project. 

Eicher’s reproduction of photographs from William Frassanito’s books and about the accuracy of some of the maps and captions in Eicher’s book to convince me that my praise of the book in the Foreward is not entirely merited.

McPherson goes on to urge the publisher to remove his name from any additional printings that may be planned for publication in the future.  While I have a great deal of respect for McPherson’s scholarship I do find it difficult to sympathize with him here.  McPherson’s endorsements appear on way too many books to believe that he has actually spent sufficient time reviewing for quality control.  Perhaps this will cause McPherson to be a bit more conservative with the number of projects that he publicly endorses. 

Virginians Desolate, Virginians Free: An Analysis

[Cross-Posted at Revise and Dissent]

The National Park Service recently released a new interpretive video titled Virginians Desolate, Virginians Free, which focuses on the experiences of both black and white Virginians in the Fredericksburg area during the Civil War.  The production is another example of the NPS’s efforts to broaden their interpretation of Civil War battlefields to acknowledge the importance of the civilian perspective as well as the role of emancipation and race.  I invited historian John Hennessy who is currently employed as the Chief of Interpretation for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the script’s author to share his thoughts about the movie.  Mr. Hennessy was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the movie for review.  Feedback is of course welcome, especially from those who have seen the movie. 

John Hennessy

Dominantly, we did the civilian film because the story is important.  The transformation of this war (from the Union perspective) from a relatively straightforward effort to re-assemble the Union in 1861 into a consumptive conflagration intended to restore the Union by transforming the nature of it is, I believe, the single most important thematic link between all Civil War sites.  Every site has something to say and stories to tell about that transformation.  Fredericksburg has more to tell than most.  With four battles spanning 18 months; with a town bombarded and looted; with civilians fleeing as refugees into he countryside; with thousands of slaves refusing to await emancipation, and instead seizing freedom themselves; with a landscape desolated not just by battle, but by the mere presence of armies; with changing Union attitudes toward the concept of a Hard War; with a local economy that suffered wartime damage enough to require nearly a century to recover; with the loss of life that vividly reflects the immense human cost of this war; with leaders struggling to adapt to a changing war, and to reckon with the political implications of every victory or misstep–the story we can tell goes miles beyond pure military science or military history.  There is hardly place in America where a visitor can get a better understanding of this war in all its manifestations, and in all its consequences, as it evolved from relatively simple to profoundly complex and significant.

Our primary purpose in making the film is to do good history–to begin th process of showing that what the armies did reverberated beyond the bound of their camps and colleagues in uniform.   We wanted to show that different people often perceived the same event in entirely different ways (for example, the traditional monolithic interpretation that "Fredericksburg" was horrified by the arrival of the Union army in 1862 is simply not  true; slaves–literally half the population in this region–saw the Union army in VERY different terms than did white residents; for them, the Union army meant not horror, but opportunity).  We wanted to illustrate, by using Fredericksburg as an example, that the Civil War transformed not in abstract, legalistic ways, but in physical, financial, and cultural ways, and that the impact of the war still reverberates (though I think we were not as successful on this last point as we should have been).

How has it been received?  Very positively, largely.  The most common negative comment is that it focuses too much on slavery.  A few have suggested that we were just being politically correct by addressing slavery.  About one-third of the film addresses the experiences of slaves and the significance of that experience.  Objectively–given that the civilian population in the region was almost exactly 50% slave–spending just one-third of the film addressing slavery is too little, not too much. But, in the context of a society often instructed that slaves and slaver were not and are not an integral part of the Civil War story, it’s not surprising that even the quantitatively inadequate treatment in the film strikes some as too much.

In our visitor center, where we show the film once a day (we show it regularly at Chatham), the staff has noted that visitors just don’t seem to expect or be prepared for something that doesn’t focus on the battles themselves.  Again, that’s not surprising given our long tradition of focusing only on military history.  I think over time and even decades, part of our goal should be to increase visitors’ expectations so that something of this sort doesn’t surprise them…..

There have been a few rumbles that we shouldn’t be doing this sort of interpretation at all–that we should confine ourselves solely to the military story, as we have for decades.  The reasons for that are well-discussed on this board, and I don’t think I need to elaborate on them.  I can only say, again, that our commitment is to doing good history, and to me that means untangling all the impacts and meanings of the events and sites we’re charged with interpreting.  In that context, it seems to me, the civilian story is unarguably an important part of our story, one that’s both important to tell and well worth hearing.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the civilian film has brought to the surface some fear that the NPS is going to overawe our traditional, battle-oriented interpretation with abstract forays into social history, cultural meanings, and modern relevance.  That’s silly. The civilian film hasn’t replaced a thing.  It’s an addition to our program, delivered with an eye toward according MORE significance to the battles fought here rather than less. We have not and will not diminish our commitment to telling the story of the battles this park was founded to interpret–that’s our job. But we will, I hope, constantly plow new historical ground that reveals the full impact and importance of those events.  Both good history and historical justice demand it.

Kevin M. Levin

One of the central themes of this blog has been to challenge the way we think about our Civil War.  As we approach the sesquicentennial it is safe to conclude that we are still wedded to an interpretation that treats the war as part of a broader narrative of American Exceptionalism or as an arena where the virtues of courage and steadfastness were practiced by men on both sides.  From this perspective little has changed in how we view the war over the last one hundred years.  According to this view our Civil War is something to celebrate rather than explore by continually asking new questions.  Slavery and emancipation play almost no role since it forces us to address the tough questions of what caused the war, how the war evolved, and its short- and long-term consequences.  No, better to keep our attention on the battlefields where such messiness can be avoided. 

The battle of Fredericksburg is the paradigm example of this tendency.  We tend to see the December 1862 battle as a slug-fest where men on both sides were slaughtered and where Robert E. Lee could utter his famous line about the horrors of war.  Visitors to the battlefield walk the path along the Stone Wall and Maryes Heights, but probably think little about the civilians caught in the middle or the timing of the battle which was situated between the release of Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and its execution on January 1, 1863.  The war was changing in profound ways that few could have predicted at the beginning, but given our prejudices for a narrow conception of the battlefield one would never know it.  If we look at the battle at all from the civilian perspective it is as a white Southerner who viewed the occupation of the town as a terrible tragedy.  What is missed, of course, is the slave perspective which interpreted the movements of Union soldiers not as "Yankee hordes", but as liberators. 

This broader perspective on the significance of Fredericksburg is nothing new for professional historians.  Recent social and cultural histories have opened up new areas of research and have enriched the way we think about individual campaigns and battles.  Unfortunately, there is a gulf between the kinds of questions that professional historians analyze and most Civil War enthusiasts who have an insatiable thirst for the minutiae of the battlefield and who – for any number of reasons – have an interest in maintaining a traditional interpretation of the war.  Over the past few years this debate has taken place on the very battlefields of the war and in the offices of the National Park Service.  As many of you know the NPS is now re-interpreting many of its Civil War sites to include references of civilian life as well as the touchy issues of race, slavery, and emancipation.  [My recent trip to Appomattox Court House is but one example.] 

The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park’s contribution to this trend is a new interpretive video titled Virginians Desolate, Virginians Free which looks at the war in the Fredericksburg area from the civilian perspectives of white Southerners and slaves.  What emerges is an incredibly rich account of how the war, and the battle specifically, altered life in the area in ways that few could have predicted.  The movie is rooted in the words of the participants themselves, which challenges the criticism that this "new" approach to doing history is simply a product of liberal or post-modern theory emanating from the academy. 

The wide-range of primary sources brings to life such unknown figures as the slave John Washington who eventually escaped as the Union army approached the town, as well as Dabney H. Maury, Fanny White, and Mary C. Knox who struggled through the hardships of occupation and the destruction of their homes; most importantly they struggled to understand and accept the end of slavery.  One of the strongest scenes takes place following the battle and involves a Union soldier escorting a slave family off their owner’s property and to freedom.  The woman of the house rushes to the family and pleads for them not to abandon her and the family.  The scene goes far in suggesting how little white Southerners understood their slave’s desire for freedom.  As Washington noted, "…life had a new joy awaiting me."    The message underlying the movie is clear: Only by focusing on the slave perspective can the real significance of military operations in 1862 be more clearly understood. 

Southern white woman are also featured prominently in this movie.  The war mobilized the entire Fredericksburg community and its woman are shown meeting to discuss how best to support the soldiers in the ranks.  Woman are also depicted as ardent supporters of the Confederate cause through their bitter hatred of "Yankee" soldiers.  One young woman noted in her diary, "They little no the hatred in our hearts."  Even towards the end of the war the civilians of Fredericksburg remained defiant and convinced that "with God we will be victorious."  Such a stance reinforces recent interpretations that white Southerners remained committed to the Confederacy until the very end and that defeat did not bring about a smooth reconciliation with the North.

The production staff for this movie should be congratulated for creating an entertaining and educational look at those groups and themes that have long been ignored at our Civil War battlefields.  As John Hennessy noted in his commentary, there will always be critics.  What we need to remember is that the Civil War does not belong to any one group.  Our job as historians is to continue to explore the difficult questions and find ways to share those insights with the general public.  I applaud the National Park Service and particularly the staff at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park for their efforts.

Click here for a schedule and location

Click here for a review from the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

Great History Teachers

Every now and then it is necessary to honor those trailblazers who modeled for a mass audience what we as teachers do.  I can think of no better candidate than Mr. Hand who taught back in the mid-1980′s at Ridgemont High School in California.  Mr. Hand combined a passion for his subject with a sincere interest in the welfare of his students.  Of course I am talking about the classic teen movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High, which is etched in the memories of anyone who came of age in the early 1980′s.  The movie featured the late Ray Walston who played Mr. Hand and his star student Jeff Spicoli played by Sean Penn – along with a host of other up-and-coming talents. 

Who can forget the scene in Mr. Hand’s class where he introduces his subject as well as the ground rules.  This is also his first encounter with Jeff Spicoli:



Stacy barely slips in the door before the final
attendance bell sounds. She finds a seat just as
the teacher’s cubicle door opens at the back of the
classroom. A tall figure comes barreling down the
aisle. He is Mr. Hand. The man makes a double-speed
step to the door at the front of the class, kicks
the door shut and locks it. The windows rattle in
their frames. Stacy watches, wide-eyed, at her
first high school class.

Aloha. My name is Mr. Hand.

Mr. Hand writes his name on the green chalkboard
before hisFt
class. Every letter is a small explosion
of chalk.

(almost sweetly)
I have but one question for you on
our first morning ‘together.’
Can you attend my class? Pakalo?…
Understand?… History has proven
us one basic fact. Man does not do
anything that is not for his own
good. It is for your own good that
you attend my class. And if you
can’t make it… I can make you.

An impatient knock begins at the front door of the

We have a twenty-question quiz
every Friday. It will cover all the
material we’ve dealt with during
the week. There will be no make-up
exams. It’s important that you all
have your Land of Truth and Liberty
textbooks by Wednesday. At the

The knock continues.

Your grade is the average of all
your quizzes, plus the midterm and
final, which counts for one-third.
Got it?

The mystery knocker tries a lazy calypso beat on
the front door. No one in Mr. Hand’s U.S. History
class dares mention it, much less answer it.

Stacy grips her desk with the tension of her first

Also. There will be no eating in
this class. You get used to doing
your own business on your own time.
That’s one demand I make. I don’t
like staying after class with you
on detention. That’s my time. I
don’t like wasting it. Just like
you wouldn’t want me to come to
your house some evening and discuss
U.S. History on your time. Pakalo?

Hand finally turns, as if he has just noticed the
sound at the door and opens the door an inch.
Jeffrey Spicoli stands in the doorway, red eyes
glistening. His long, blond hair is still wet and
streaming down the back of his white peasant shirt.
He grins, oblivious to such trivial matters as
attendance bells. A Student sitting near Stacy
turns to his friends

That guy has been stoned since the
third grade.


Yeah. I’m registered for this

What class?

This is U.S. History, right? I saw
the globe in the window.

(appears enthralled)

Spicoli holds his red ad card up to the crack in
the door

Can I come in?

(swinging door open)
Oh, please. I get so lonely when
that third attendance bell rings
and I don’t see all my kids here.

Spicoli laughs. He is the only one.

Sorry I’m late. This new schedule
is totally confusing.

Mr. Hand takes the red ad Ft1card and reads from it
with utter fascination

Mr. Spicoli?  SPICOLI That’s the name they gave me.

Mr. Hand slowly tears the card into little pieces
and sprinkles the pieces over his wastebasket.
Spicoli watches in disbelief. His hands are frozen
in the process of removing his backpack

You just ripped my card in two!  MR. HAND
Hey, bud. What’s your problem?

Mr. Hand moves to within inches of Spicoli’s face.  MR. HAND
No problemFt2 at all. I think you know
where the front office is.

It takes a moment for the words to work their way
out of Jeff Spicoli’s mouth
You… dick.

In the tense moment that follows, no one in the
class is sure what might happen.

Mr. Hand simply turns away from Jeff Spicoli as if
he ceased to exist and coolly continues his


Here is another scene where Mr. Hand expresses regret over his student’s poor performance on a recent test and goes the extra mile to see that all of his students attend his class.  He also provides us with the moral consequences of ignoring truancy.


We are now several weeks into the school year. Mr.
Hand is dropping test papers on desks like they are
pieces of manure

C… D… F… F… F… three
weeks we’ve been talking about the
Platt Amendment. What are you
people? On dope? A piece of
legislation was introduced into
Congress by Senator John Platt. It
was passed in 1906. This amendment
to our Constitution has a profound
impact upon all of our daily

Mr. Hand stops on a dime. He is like a champion
hunting dog that has just picked up the scent. He
scans the room

Where is Jeff Spicoli?

There is silence in the U.S. history classroom.

I saw him earlier today near the
200 Building bathrooms. Is he still
on campus?



One student sitting next to Stacy raises his hand.

Yes, Desmond?

I saw him by the food machines.

How long ago?

Just before class, sir…

Mr. Hand snaps his fingers, Hawaii Five-O style.

Okay. Bring him in.

Desmond hustles out the door.

What is this fascination with
truancy? What is it that gets
inside your heads?

Mr. Hand begins to pace the aisles as he speaks.
Occasionally, for emphasis, he bends down to
lecture directly into the students’ faces

There are other teachers in this
school who look the other way at
(points to attendance clip
on the doorway)
It’s a little game that you both
play. They pretend they don’t see
you, you pretend you don’t ditch.
Who pays the price later? You.

Desmond returns to the room with a red-eyed Jeff

Hey! Wait a minute! There’s no
birthday party for me here!

Thank you, Desmond.
(to Spicoli)
What’s the reason for your truancy?

I couldn’t make it in time.

(in top form)
You mean, you couldn’t? Or you

I don’t know, mon. The food lines
took forever.

Food will be eaten on your time!
Why are you continuously late for
this class, Mr. Spicoli? Why do you
shamelessly waste my time like

I don’t know.

Mr. Hand appears mesmerized. He then turns and
heads for the board. He writes in long, large
letters as he slams the chalk into the green board.
He writes: "I DON’T KNOW"

I like that.

He stands back and admires it. He turns randomly to

Don’t you like that, Miss Hamilton?

Yes, sir.

I really like that too. ‘I don’t
know’… that’s nice. ‘Mr. Hand,
will I pass this class?’ ‘Gee, Mr.
Spicoli, I don’t know’. I like
I think I’m going to leave your
words on this board for all my
classes to enjoy. Giving you full
credit, of course, Mr. Spicoli.

We hear the blare of the dismissal bell. Stacy and
the other students get up to leave. Spicoli stays
in place. He has just figured out a truly bitchin’
comeback… and his mouth is forming the first
word, when Mr. Hand cuts him off

You can go now.

Hand turns back to his desk. The rest of the
students have already left. Spicoli’s audience is
gone. He shrugs and lopes out the door


Who can forget the scene where Mr. Hand is attempting to explain the background of the Spanish-American War only to be interrupted by a pizza delivery for Spicoli.  This may be one of the great classroom scenes of all time.


The third attendance bell rings, and Mr. Hand
strides to the front of the class. He locks the
door. Then he takes the front of the class and
notices something very different.


bright and clear-eyed, sitting in the front row.
His hands are clasped in front of him on the desk.
His textbook is open to the proper page.

Mr. Hand is suspicious, but continues with class.

Now in 1898, Spain owned Cuba.
Outright. Think about it. Cuba,
owned by a disorganized parliament
4,000 miles away. Cubans were in a
constant state of revolt.

Mr. Hand begins pacing the aisles as he talks.

In 1904, the United States decided
to throw a little weight around,

There is a brief, sharp knock at the door. Mr. Hand
whips his head around, like McGarrett. He
approaches the door like a cat

(sweet voice)
Who is it?

Mr. Pizza.


Mr. Pizza, sir!

Hand swings the door open, out of curiosity. In
walks a young Man in a Mr. Pizza delivery shirt

Okay, who had the double cheese
sausage and bologna?

Jeff Spicoli speaks up.

That’s me.

The Delivery Man takes the pizza, sets it on the
desk, as Spicoli whips out some crumpled dollars.
Then he produces yet another crumpled dollar, and
presses it into the Delivery Man’s hand

For you, my man.

The Delivery Man Ft4thanks him warmly, just as Mr.
Hand rages into the picture

Am I hallucinating here? Just what
in the hell do you think you’re

Learning about Cuba. Having some

Mr. Spicoli, you’re on dangerous
ground here. You’re causing a major
disturbance in my class and on my

(cool and urbane)
I’ve been thinking about this, Mr.
Hand. If I’m here… and you’re
here… doesn’t that make it our

Mr. Hand is so furious he’s almost shaking.

So I thought I’d order us a pizza.
Just leave me a lot of bologna…

Mr. Hand snatches up the pizza, and starts to throw
it in the wastebasket. Then he thinks better, and
heads for the door. He opens it just as a gang of
young Stoners walk past

There’s the pizza.


Mr. Hand pushes the pizza into their hands and
slams the door

You better save some for me, you

And you, my friend. I’ll see you
for a two-hour detention every
afternoon this week.

Spicoli eases back in his chair, shrugs. It was a
good idea at the time


In this final scene Spicoli is preparing for the prom or as he puts it the last major "fiesta" of the school year when he hears a knock on his bedroom door.  In walks Mr. Hand to make-up all of the time Spicoli wasted in his class, and more importantly to make sure that he has understood the content of the course.  Now that’s a dedicated teacher.  Haven’t we all imagined something along these lines?

Curtis slams the door and leaves. A moment later
there is a knock

That’s better. Come in.

The door swings open and Jeff Spicoli sits in
stoned shock at the sight before him. There,
standing in the doorway of his room is Mr. Hand

Mr… Mr. Hand.

That’s right, Jeff. Mind if I come

Spicoli can only nod.

(calling downstairs)
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Spicoli.

Hand walks into Spicoli’s room, takes off his suit
jacket and lays it on the chair back. He stops a
moment and catches the stare of Miss January
Penthouse on the wall, then turns to Spicoli

Were you going somewhere tonight,

Yeah. The Graduation Dance Mr.
Hand. It’s the last school event of
the year.

I’m afraid we’ve got some things to
discuss here, Jeff.

Did I do something wrong, Mr. Hand?

Hand removes several copies of Oui Magazine from
another chair and sits down. He sets his briefcase
on Spicoli’s dresser, next to a bag of pot, and
opens it up for easy access

Do you want to sit there, Jeff?

I don’t know. I guess so.

Fine. You sit right here on your
bed. I’ll use the chair here.
As I explained to your parents just
a moment ago, and to you many times
since the very beginning of the
school year — I don’t like to
spend my time waiting for late
students, or detention cases. I’d
rather be preparing the lesson.

Mr. Hand takes a sheet from his briefcase and looks
at it

According to my calculations, Mr.
Spicoli, you wasted a total of
eight hours of my time this year.
And rest assured that is a kind

He returns the sheet to his case and looks into
Spicoli’s weed-ravaged eyes

Now, Mr. Spicoli, comes a rare
moment for me. Now I have the
unique pleasure of squaring our
account. Tonight, you and I are
going to talk in great detail about
the Davis Agreement, all the
associated treaties, and the
American Revolution in particular.
Now if you can just turn to Chapter
47 of Lord of Truth And Liberty.

Hey, it’s in my locker, Mr. Hand.

Well, then, I’m glad I remembered
to bring an extra copy just for

Hand reaches in his case and produces the book. He
hands it to Spicoli



Wearily, Spicoli is trying to grasp the material.

… so, like, when Jefferson went
before the people what he was
saying was ‘Hey, we left this place
in England because it was bogus,
and if we don’t come up with some
cool rules ourself, we’ll be bogus,
too!’ Right?


who nods his head.

Very close, Jeff.

Hand reaches over and gets his case.

I think I’ve made my point with you

Hey, Mr. Hand, can I ask you a

What’s that?

Do you have a guy like me every
year? A guy to… I don’t know,
make a show of. Teach other kids
lessons and stuff?

Well, you’ll find out next year.

No way, mon. When I graduate U.S.
history I ain’t even coming over to
your side of the building.

If you graduate.

You’re gonna flunk me?!

Mr. Hand pauses a moment, then breaks into the
nearest approximation of a grin we have seen all
year. It isn’t much, but it’s noticeable. His lips
crinkle at the ends

Don’t worry, Spicoli. You’ll
probably squeak by.

All right! Oh, yeah!

Mr. Hand has now gathered all his material, and he
stands to approach Spicoli’s door. Jeff jumps up,
extends his hand

Aloha, Mr. Hand!

Aloha, Spicoli.

Mr. Hand exits the room, and descends the staircase
of the Spicoli household. Spicoli kicks the door
shut, grins, and continues struggling with his tie

Who are your favorite teachers from the big screen?