Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of March 30th - April 5th,  2001

My Old School

Columns Archive


   In my travels out west, I took a slight detour and stopped by Bell Buckle, Tennessee, a staggering metropolis of 350 souls located just southeast of Nashville, to visit my old Alma Mater, the Webb School. Yup, you read it right. Athena's Web School was not the first. It was my first visit back to my old school in 31 years. I had thought I 'd never go back.

   We have been exploring the mysteries of Astro* Carto*Graphy in the last few weeks, and as it turns out, the Webb School lies almost exactly on my Sun on the Descendant line.

The Webb School

Historic Webb

In both Greek mythology and archaeology, Apollo, the Lord of the Sun, is almost always depicted as a youth; young, vibrant, and strikingly handsome. His sect was most often subscribed to by ruling monarchs (Leo rules kings), and there are still existent texts which reference his beautiful head of golden-red hair. Is it any wonder then that I might have gravitated to this line at the very time when my ego and identity (both ruled by the Sun) were just beginning to blossom, at 17 and 18 years of age?

   According to Harald Mayen, a German astrologer living in the Black Forest, this would be a location in which an individual is more in the public eye, and can celebrate successes. His book, Locations of Power, has not yet been translated out of the original German, but his work can be seen online at Then simply go to AstroClick Travel, enter your birth info, and enjoy.

The Webb School ambience

Flavor of the School

   One story which seemed to fit his interpretation ran as follows: In the late 60s, there was an event at the Webb School held in the early Spring known as the Cake Race. It was a two mile run which commenced at the red brick pillars which marked the school's entrance. It ran one mile down a country road, where the runners simply turned around and started back to the same finish line. The winner was given first choice of the many delicious and creative cakes which were baked for the event, and there was enough to keep the whole school on a sugar high for the next two days. Whoever came in second had second choice, etc. There were chocolate cakes and layer cakes and bundt cakes and angel food cakes. There were carrot cakes and spice cakes. Tradition had established that the winner would take Mr Scott's cake, the school Vice Principal, an older, gay English teacher who unquestionably baked the best and most ornamentally decorated cake each year. Having won the Cake Race the year before, I was not expected to win as Terrill Hayes, a young Sophomore, had been beating me in gym all winter. I knew, however, that I was a better warm weather runner than a cold one, and spent that Saturday morning lying on my bed in the dormitory, running on nerves, my legs orange with all the Tiger Balm I could muster. The smell was so strong that when my roommate, Fred Smith Alexander opened the door to walk in, it was as though he had hit an invisible wall as his head jerked backwards and he immediately reversed direction with a guttural utterance I couldn't begin to repeat. As time for the race approached, I wandered down to the start line and kicked off my shoes, intending to run the race barefoot. The rationale behind this was twofold. First, I figured that without shoes, my steps would be both lighter and quicker. Second, I thought that it would give me a psychological edge, surprising the other runners with something they hadn't expected. At the time I didn't know it, but this is the result of having Aquarius rising. One likes to keep one's opponents off-balance by throwing the unexpected at them. On the positive side, this strategy often works well, with the intended result. On the flip side, it can often leave you so out on a limb that you wind up digging your own hole to fall into.

Aquarian Themes

Can you pick out Aquarius rising?
(Hint: Check out the plaid pants.)

   As we lined up at the start line on that beautifully warm, spring day in 1969, the adrenaline was pumping. Everyone was walking back and forth, or nervously talking to one another. As we were called to the line, the tension tightened. Deliberately, the starter narrowed our focus with the expected count, fired his pistol, and we were off to a blistering pace. It was not only fast, but the paved gravel stone surface was killing my feet. I alleviated this by changing course, running down the solid no passing line in the center of the road, it's thick layer of road paint forming a smooth and even surface atop the exposed gravel. After this momentary setback, Terrill and I moved out to the front of the pack, shoulder to shoulder, the rhythm and power of our youth moving together in time, our strides as one. The morning's expectation caused me to push hard at the start, but we ran together silently as the fields passed us on the left and right, our hearts and feet pounding out the beat.

   As we neared the half way point, we slowed down, turned, and pushed off again as well as we could. As we came away from the line, Terrill was still at my right elbow, just a half step behind. The sweat was running from our foreheads and underarms. We were no more than two hundred yards from the turn, when I heard him say, almost under his breath,

   "Come on, Don!"

   It was an unspoken plea to lighten the pace a little, and I knew at that point I had him, as I poured on the gas and lengthened my stride. I was determined to prove the crowds wrong, and the psychological opening had just presented itself.

   As I crossed the finish line, it was only 20 or 30 yards ahead of Terrill. Not a big margin, but more than enough to carry the race. But there remained the issue of Mr Scott's cake. I hated having to do what was expected (more Aquarius rising), and yet didn't want to openly antagonize Mr. Scott. I would still have to take his English class the following year. Therefore I hit upon a plan.

   When it came time to select the cake of choice, I respectfully selected the favorite, and got up to offer a little speech. After thanking all the appropriate people, I explained that this had been a come-from-behind race, that Terrill had been winning all of our competitions recently, and that he really deserved the cake. Therefore I dutifully presented it to him. After a surprised look from the school crowd and a round of polite applause, Terrill, having come in second, appreciated the gesture and selected a delicious double chocolate German layer cake, and in turn gave it to me.

   Before my roommate and best friends would help me share the fruits of my labors, however, they made me shower and remove the still pungent brew of Tiger Balm so they could better enjoy the cake. Then, with mouths full and feet sore, we settled down to enjoy the rest of the day.


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