There were two jobs I aspired to when I was a kid: teacher and a spy. My friend, Karen, lived in a house which had the perfect set-up in her basement for playing school. There were two separate rooms which we used as our individual classrooms. I remember that the walls were covered with some type of plaster-like material, which we used as our chalkboards. Karen was Lorraine, but I cannot recall my teacher name.
So I would go to her house, and we would spend hours in our classrooms teaching our invisible classes. At the time it seemed so normal, but thinking back on our playdates now, I laugh as I realize how isolated we were to each other when we played school. But we had fun and didn’t think it was unusual. When you consider that kids get together today and play on their respective smart devices, it is really not that strange.
Now to my dreams of becoming a spy. When I was ten, we watched a show called Get Smart, which revolved around an incompetent, clumsy secret agent named Maxwell Smart (aka agent 86), who worked for the spy agency CONTROL in their battle against the evil forces of KAOS.
In an age long before personal computers, cell phones, smart TVs and watches, Agent 86 was well ahead of his time. He had a shoe phone.
When he and his boss, “The Chief”, need to speak privately, they went into the Cone of Silence. Like Maxwell Smart and The Chief, Dad and I also had our own cone of silence which we employed when we wanted to talk about all of you without being heard. We would go under the covers and conspire against you.
That show was instrumental in my desire to become a spy. I went to the library and got books teaching me how to make invisible ink. I learned how to write secret messages in code. One method was based upon knowing the most frequently used letters in the English language (ETAOINSHRDLU).
When I was in seventh grade, I used to go to a park with some friends (the one where the time capsule is buried) during our lunch break and spy on two of the math teachers who we were convinced were secretly dating. Sadly, we were wrong, which just showed what poor spies we were!
I went to college deciding to become a teacher, but then Grandpa convinced me to switch to math and computer science because of the glut of teachers on the market at the time. Now, as I research our dead ancestors and have discovered that these tools also can help me locate the living, I am pulling out my old spy manual and rethinking about becoming a spy.