There was a photo in this newspaper recently, of the proud winners of a spelling bee.
I was sorry that whoever put the photo and its captions together did not reveal what the winning word was. I am always interested in spelling bees, and especially with the winning word or words.
I spent a good portion of my youth competing in spelling bees, and more often than not, I would win. In one bee, I won a stainless steel meat platter. I do not know who decided a kid in fifth grade would want such a thing, but I brought it home nonetheless. And I still have it!
I guess the spelling bee where I won the best prize was the Covington-Hot Springs Rotary Club bee. I think it might have been at Covington High School. There, a man named Dr. Ralph Craybill awarded me the biggest dictionary one will ever see: The Merriam-Webster compendium of words. I was elated! I still have that, too.
I traveled all over the region competing in bees – Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke. I don’t remember which were the winning words. But, I sure do remember the two words that pitched me out of two bees: “transferred” and “oligarchy.”
Huh? Oligarchy? What seventh grader can spell, much less define it? We had never heard such a word. The pronouncer had to move on after no kid on the stage could spell it. But, I’d left the round early, and they couldn’t bring us all back for another go.
What’s most memorable is that the pronouncer of the word “transferred” made rather a mockery of me for spelling it with just one “r.”
“Can we find that girl another school to be transferred to?” he joked. My father did not appreciate that. And neither did I. Oh well.
I have gone so far as to watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee on television. These kids are the best spellers in the country. I am certain all of them can spell “oligarchy.” And probably define it!
I remember listening to the bee on NPR one time. The winner correctly spelled “chiaroscuro.” Honestly, I had to look it up when I got home. It’s some art-related word, as I recall.
My funniest experience with a spelling bee was when a friend’s son won the bee at an unnamed grade school. He was in the third grade, I think. He proudly brought his trophy to a meeting. And there, inscribed on a “gold” plaque on the “walnut” trophy, was this: “Winner. Such-and-so School Speeling Bee.”
That’s an ironic trophy; I’d keep it the rest of my life. Ah, those speeling bees … you gotta love ‘em!