Long before “Where’s Waldo?” became popular, the Hannah family was looking for Durrell. A couple of recent references to the Civilian Conservation Corps on morning TV and The Saturday Evening Post reminded me of a family story I heard during my eavesdropping days sitting on the edge of Papaw’s front porch. The short-lived CCC got accolades from both sources for its salvation of and improvements to American forests. The CCC’s usefulness to Uncle Durrell had little to do with altruism
As I remember the story, valedictorian or salutatorian was the graduation standard set by the first three Hannah children from Sturgis High School in classes of about a dozen, beginning with my mother shown here with her class. Uncle Durrell’s ambition never reached that level. Could his nonchalance have been one of those middle child things since he was fourth of six? Could it have been that his mother died in his early high school days? Even though he had become a responsible adult by the time the story was told, I remember Uncle Durrell as the uncle who was the most fun. My guess is that he had more enjoyable things to do than hitting the books.
At long last, his high school days were finished and graduation night came. The family dressed in their finest for the occasion with no delusions of high honors, just glad it was over and looking forward to seeing him receive his diploma. They found their places and waited expectantly in the auditorium. As his class filed in, they looked at one another asking, “Where’s Durrell?” Uncle Durrell did not appear, nor was his name called.
After the fact, they learned that he had failed algebra which meant he did not graduate. Instead, he ran off and joined the CCC. The poster, reproduced in the July/August Saturday Evening Post, touts, “A Young Man’s Opportunity for Work Play Study and Health.” Uncle Durrell might have added “and to keep from facing your family after you flunk algebra.”