Friday, April 29, 2016

Johnny Chapman

Famous American Day is one of the coolest days of the Summit School year. This is our second one. Those of you who have been around awhile may remember that Anna Rose was a famous American named Susan Butcher. 

I had never heard of Susan Butcher. But by the end of the project I had grown to admire her. She won the Iditarod four times. How many people can say that? No woman. No man. No one. 

Well, David chose a fellow by the name of Johnny Chapman. I didn't recognize his name either. However, a quick search taught me that he went by another name for most of his life: Johnny Appleseed. 

It was a perfect choice for David, good natured fellow that he is.  


Turns out there is a lot about Johnny Appleseed that I didn't know either. Did you know you he never wore shores? Like never. One day, a settler gave him a pair. The next day Johnny came back without them. He had met someone who needed them more than he did. 

He walked everywhere on those bare feet, and everywhere he went he made friends. If there was a family that needed help raising a barn, Johnny would stick around and raise it for them. At night, he'd tell the family stories from the Bible or about his experiences on the Frontier. He had lots of them. He was friends with as many Native Americans as he was with settlers, and more than once he was able to mediate disputes between them. 

As for Johnny, he never owned a gun. 

Can you imagine a man back then not owning a gun?

But he wasn't soft. He once floated a river on a wedge of ice (in bare feet of course). 

Of course he planted apple seeds, too. Everywhere he went, he planted apple seeds. And there are apple trees today from those seeds he planted back then.  

But the thing that was so striking to me about Johnny Appleseed was watching David as he played him, as his fellow students entered the gym one by one... 

George Washington - suit and wig
John Adams - suit and wig
Thomas Jefferson...
James Monroe...
Ben Franklin - suit no hair
Then, Johnny Appleseed - overalls and a pot on his head. 

Who was this guy?

He was a man in a world of men famous for their politics or their war heroics or their art or their writing - Johnny was famous for his apple seeds. Really, he was famous for being a good man. 

Is there anything better to be famous for?

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