We were delighted last week when the Ohio Ellsworths made a somewhat unusual mid-winter visit. 

Since we had not seen them since last September, we could not wait to catch up with them in person. And while the parents looked much the same, the Widge has grown like a weed and could easily pass, at the tender age of 3, for a kindergartner. Plus, we hasten to note that her verbal skills have greatly increased and she now talks a mile a minute. We also discovered she is a great story-teller with a remarkable dramatic flair, taking after, we think, her paternal grandfather.

Of course, some of what she explains is somewhat difficult to believe. One day she held forth with the thought that while her daddy has blood, her mommy, gramma and she do not have blood. And there seemed to be nothing that could be done to dissuade her from this thinking. But this was not new as evidently she also, at one point, insisted to her father that she did not have wrists.

On the other hand, she is very good at articulating what she wants. While ordering dinner at the Hawkeye Grill she quizzed the waitress as to whether the restaurant had ketchup. When the waitress assured the Widge that they did, the Widge explained that they too had ketchup at home. Then, for some unknown reason, the Widge asked if the restaurant had mustard, to which the waitress replied that they did and then asked if the Widge had mustard at home. To this the Widge offered the information that they had two kinds of mustard. However, she made it rather clear that it was only the ketchup that she wanted with her hamburger and french fries.

The Widge also had the opportunity to go sliding at Bassett Hall. We believe she is the fourth generation of the Ellsworth family to have done so. As she was getting dressed for the outing, we asked her if she was going sliding. She told us no as she was going sledding. But we are happy to report that whatever it was she did, she thoroughly enjoyed it.

However, we did discover, as a result of the Widge’s visit, that while our recovery from hip surgery seems to be going well, it is not going well enough to keep up with a 3-year-old. There is no doubt we still have a ways to go as we were absolutely exhausted by the end of the visit.

Thus we did not make it to the last school board meeting. But, as expected, the CCS Board of Education has voted to retire the “Redskins” as the school’s nickname. We saw this as rather inevitable given the current desire to be all inclusive. It seems that there is a great desire to celebrate

diversity except when it comes to diversity of opinion. Personally we certainly do not have a problem with changing the name, no doubt in large part to the fact that we did not attend school here and our son, who did, thinks the name should change. However, we do have a problem with the manner in which the decision to change the name was made. To have eliminated the “Redskins” before having its replacement approved seems somewhat backwards and not at all helpful in getting everyone in the community to coalesce around the new nickname.

And, for the life of us, we cannot fathom why the school would want to keep a school emblem, namely the Indian Hunter, which not only features an Indian, but an Indian with a weapon, even though it is a single shot weapon. It seems to us that in a day and age when the term “Redskins” would not be chosen for a school nickname, neither would an emblem be chosen that features a weapon of any kind.

Plus, keeping the Indian Hunter makes it much more difficult to choose a nickname that would seem to make any sense. For example, we would push for the “Cooperstown Cougars.” We like the alliteration, the possible cheers, such as “Let’s go Cougars ... Let’s go Cougars” and the fighting spirit which the cougar would seem to engender. But the Cougars would not seem to have anything to do with the Indian Hunter and thus we would not be inclined to think such a name would make any sense. In fact, we seem unable to come up with a single name that would seem to work.

Besides, even though the school has officially eliminated the “Redskin” nickname we are suspicious that those members of the community who were not in favor of the change will continue to think of CCS as the “Redskins.” In fact, we tend to agree with School Board Member Tony Scalici who was reported as saying: “In all the debate I have heard, both times around, both for and against, they are all set in opinion, projections, emotions and shades of moral judgment. That is very thorny stuff. The only certainty that I have concluded from any of the evidence and all of the evidence is that the Cooperstown people, past, present and the future never gave or would project any meaning other than endearment and pride for the use of Redskins.”

However, this has become a moot point as the change has been made. Nonetheless, what will not change is the school’s long history as “Redskins” and the many, many fond memories people have for the nickname. The name can be changed, but it cannot be eliminated. It will forever live in the hearts of those who remember it fondly.

And of course, while the school is making changes because of concern about the feelings of others, we would like to suggest that the school also eliminate the use of the word obese when referring to students or anyone else for that matter. We personally find obese to be a highly objectionable and a fairly demeaning term. Yet it seems to be used at the drop of a hat. Across the county, as well as at CCS if what we have heard is indeed true, young students are routinely labeled as obese. Yet no thought seems to be given to how someone might feel about such a label. And we have to wonder why that is the case.

If we are going to be sensitive to those offended by the use of the nickname “Redskins,” we would like to suggest that equal sensitivity be given to labeling anyone as obese. There can be little doubt that obesity has earned a universal reputation of being bad. Consequently, from our perspective, calling anyone obese is nothing less than bullying at its best. And thus, we think it needs to stop.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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