Because my mother is about to retire from teaching, I thought I’d share the fact that, to help me with my early schooling, she became the mnemonic queen. She was particularly good at the funny story. And she generated her two greatest hits when I was taking a seventh-grade geography class. Behold:

2. (Concerning state capitals.) In the 1920s there was a girl named Virginia, who wanted to be a dancing star. She found an agent, who was smart and kind, and who also talked like Elmer Fudd. “Surwa,” he said, “I can make you a starw, but it’s gowing to take wots and wots of hard work.” He introduced her to a new thing called the Charleston. And she danced it. And she said, “Hey, Mr. Manager, am I a star?” And he said, “Not yet. Keep dancing!” And she said, “How about now?” And he said, “Not yet. Keep dancing.” And finally she said, “How about now, Mr. Manager?” And he said. “Yes. Yes! Charleston West, Virginia.”

1. (Concerning world capitals.) Way in the northern wilds lived a woman named Regina who had a son named Juan. Their house was on the edge of a deep forest, and Regina said that in that forest there lived a terrible monster called the Sas. She told Juan never to enter the forest, lest the Sas sniff him out. But Juan, being a curious boy, wandered into the forest anyway. The Sas sprang from a tree, and snatched him up. And poor Regina, shook her head as she cried, “Sas katche, wan.”

Bonus (Concerning James.) He and I were driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, when we came across a sign for Sterrettania. James started to sing. “Come to Sterrettania. It’s in Pennsylvania. We will entertain-i-ya if you don’t complain-i-ya.” And right then, I knew he was the man for me.

(Originally posted May 14, 2016)

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