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Essays From High School (1965-1967)

Essays From High School (1965-1967)

©1965, 1966, 1967, 2013 by Dallas Denny







By the time I was seven I knew I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t see how it could be possible, though. It had to be crazy difficult, I figured, to choose words of just the right length to make the right edge of the print line up perfectly.

Here you’ll find three essays from 11th and 12th grades in high school. I wasn’t able to find my favorite, which was a parody of Charles Schultz’ Happiness is a Warm Puppy. My 11th grade English teacher gave me an F, saying it wasn’t creative writing, but a listing. My next paper, written tongue-in-cheek, described dry cell batteries in dry prose. It was fucking terrible, and of course she gave me an A. The woman was clueless.

Perhaps I’ll come across those two essays some day; if so you’ll see them here.

Shakespeare: A Viewpoint

My grade on this essay: B

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1966). Shakespeare: A viewpoint. Paper written at Central High School, Murfreesboro, TN.


Shakespeare: A Viewpoint (PDF)


Shakespeare: A Viewpoint

Like It Or Grade Me Down

By Dallas Denny


It has been suggested that no man could write as diversified as Mark Twain, and skeptics believe that no less than four men wrote his works. Clemens wrote all of his own books, however, and this has been proved. The same charges have been brought up on William Shakespeare. Nobody, say disbelievers, could write in so many styles and manners.

In his early years, Shakespeare wrote gay, light-hearted plays of childhood dreams, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. As he grew older, he wrote plays of history and comedies; among these were King Henry IV and Twelfth Night. After this period, however, Shakespeare became sour because of death in the family and wrote Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and King Lear. His last period was one of reconciliation, during which he wrote A Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.

Because of these great changes in writing style and subjects, many people believe Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Bacon, a renowned scientist of the day, would not have hesitated in claiming the plays for himself. As a matter-of-fact, nobody doubted that Shakespeare wrote his plays until the early nineteenth century, no more than a hundred fifty years ago.

Surely a man as great in his field as Shakespeare cannot be denounced because of his versatility!

November, 22, 1963: A Day of Infamy

I was in 9th grade when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered. I remember a whispered message making the rounds of the auditorium: “The President has been shot!” I was given a grade of B- on this essay, which I wrote several years later. I think my teacher must have been a Republican.

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1966). November 22, 1963: Day of infamy. Paper written at Central High School, Murfreesboro, TN.


November, 22, 1963: Day of Infamy (PDF)


November 22, 1963: Day of Infamy

By Dallas Denny


November 22, 1963 started out as just another day in the life of our great country. Millions of children were sent to school, men went to work, and housewives stayed at home to clean houses and watch television. As a direct result, housewives were the first to know of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination.

It has been reported that America’s impression of the assassination was “shocked disbelief.” Shocked we were, hut we did not disbelieve. The prompt and concise reporting by our national network of television and radio stations showed us pictures of the actual shooting: Kennedy and then Governor Connally slumping in their seats, the sobs of Jackie Kennedy, the prompt action of the secret service men; all was seen.

Wives called husbands at work. Messages were boomed over the public address systems of factories, schools, and universities. Within an hour the whole country knew and shared Mrs. Kennedy’s grief. Radio played over the same P.A. systems. Men cried. Women cried. Children cried. Radio and television reporters cried. The whole country sobbed.

The entire nation watched the funeral procession march to Arlington cemetery. Hundreds of millions of people watched Kennedy laid in state; everybody saw the eternal flame being lit. People by the tens of thousands filed past the grave.

And then, suddenly, it was over. After the days of cessation of programs, radio and television came back on the air. The mourning period was over, and it was time for us to live again.

Parents, Little Brothers, Little Sisters Drive Me Crazy!

I wrote this for my 12th-grade English teacher, Mr. Scott. He gave me an A. I wouldn’t have dared to write it for my teacher of a year before, but I knew Mr. Scott would get it. I think he also knew I was libeling my family in order to tell a good story.

Source: Dallas Denny. (1967). Parents, little brothers, little sisters drive me crazy! Paper written for Mr. Scott’s 12th-grade English class, Central High School, Murfreesboro, TN.



Little Brothers

Little Sisters

Drive Me Crazy!


Parents, Little Brothers, Little Sisters Drive Me Crazy! (PDF)


When one has a small brother, one must learn to put up with many disturbing things. For instance, take me. I have a younger brother. He’s thirteen years old, and a hellion to boot. He thinks he’s a teenager, and wants to wear inside-out sweat shirts and wear his hair long. He leaves our room in a mess, and loves to play the television with the volume turned ‘way up. He doesn’t like girls (poor kid) or popular music. He stays at home (this is one of his worst faults). My parents yell at me for staying away.

My sisters, aged six and eight, are twice as bad. They tumble and carouse through the house in a continual lark, scratch all my records, lose my homework, and mess up my bed. Neither of them do housework; washing the dishes falls to me or my brother.

My parents are worse yet. They gripe and groan and grumble. They yell at me. They confiscate all the money I earn. They give me one dollar a month allowance. They won’t let me drive until I pay for the insurance, the cost of which is far beyond my means. Until recently, they wouldn’t let me have a motorcycle. Now they won’t let me sell it.

With my whole family working against me, I haven’t much of a chance. But I guess I’ll just have to put up with it,, because I love them all very much. Or do I?