As I have mentioned in other posts, though my CTY students are among the most gifted and intelligent in the world, they are often quite challenged when it comes to history. As a result, there was the belief among some of them that, since I was born in the previous millennium, I was there for everything that has happened since the Crusades.
Well, I have long claimed to have charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt "back in '98" and while he became President of the United States, I came to teach at CTY. Only one student ever challenged this, saying, "Mr. R, if you really were at San Juan Hill, what did you see?" When I replied, "Lots of Spaniards with rifles," she thought for a moment and said, "Hmm, maybe you were there."
This year the question came up whether I knew Thomas Jefferson. (After all, how could I know the names, in order, of all the Presidents if I hadn't known them personally?) "As a matter of fact," I told the class, "I was the one who told Tom to make the Louisiana Purchase. I said, 'Tom, we need to get those French out of here. We should offer to buy it.' Tom said we didn't have much money, so I told him to make them a ridiculously low offer, which he did, and, what do you know, they accepted it! And that's how we ended up with all that land!"
Another student asked if I had ever seen Babe Ruth play baseball. "Sure," I replied, but one of his classmates questioned that. "You're not old enough," he said.
"Babe Ruth last played in 1935," I pointed out. The student appeared to do some mental math and then said, "Oh, okay!"
Then there's the story about how Oog and I were sitting in the cave and invented a) the alphabet b) comic books and c) printing.
You see, Oog was drawing all these pictures on the cave walls and was getting really tired of trying to depict everything that was happening. So I suggested that we needed words to go with them. Of course, first we needed to invent letters so that we could actually write the words, so we did that.
And then I started writing captions and dialogue to go with his drawings, thus inventing the world's first comic books.
And when Oog pointed out that carrying around cave walls to show our work to people was problematic, we invented printing!