Saturday, February 11, 2012

The time my school took us to a movie


After news that the Dallas school district squandered over $50 thousand of Title I funds intended for low income students by taking all the boys to the movie Red Tails, leaving the girls behind at school, I thought back to the one time my old school went to a movie.

This was in the '70s. They took us to a movie sight unseen, apparently, mainly because it was rated G and vaguely related to Oregon history. There weren't that many G-rated movies in those days.

The movie was Seven Alone. The Sager family, including seven children, head west on the Oregon Trail in the 1800s. The father dies of blood poisoning after a fight with Indians. I don't remember how the mother meets her end. But the children press on and reach Oregon.

It was one of those independent productions from the '70s, not great, but okay. Directed by Earl Bellamy who also directed Against a Crooked Sky. He directed a vast number of TV episodes.

For some reason, the teachers didn't anticipate the movie being anti-Indian. So, a couple of days later, they taught about some of the less ghastly crimes committed against Indians.

I do remember sitting in the theater and being surprised and rather appalled that shooting and killing Indians didn't disqualify the film from receiving a G rating.

After the fight in which the father gets his eventually fatal injury, several of the pioneers stand around the body of the Indian he just killed and exchange pleasantries. "You're Kit Carson? Let me shake your hand!" The father is untroubled and unshaken at having just killed a man in combat.

I was in an alternative school. The teachers didn't feel they should order kids around or even supervise them. So at the theater, some friends and I wandered off then came back and found we had been left behind. It wasn't a problem. The whole school had walked to the theater anyway, so we just walked back by ourselves instead of in a group. But I had always wondered about the kids who got left behind on field trips. What was wrong with them? Now I was one myself.

We got back to school.

"We got left behind," I told the teacher.

He didn't care.

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