MNEMONIC KING OF THE WORLD

162
Ken Warren

Story and Photos by Ken Warren (ISN)

July 26, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Welcome to the 14 article of Ken’s Blog, where historian Ken Warren takes us through some of his childhood memories, sharing with us the lives and times of his sports oriented family growing up in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the 1900’s and beyond. In this article Ken strikes as the Mnomonic King of the world.

I don’t know if I’m really the Mnemonic King of the World, but until somebody shows me something better that they have done, I’ll continue to claim the title. I first got involved in mnemonics by creating sentences about the elements in chemistry and their valences, strictly for memory. But that was all smalltime stuff. I hit the bigtime in 1969 when I saw the difficulty that my mentally-challenged Canadian students were having when trying to remember the names of our provinces and territories, and the capital cities of each.

“If our students are having trouble remembering 24 items,” I speculated, “then American students must be really baffled trying to recall 100 such items.”

I took it as a challenge to try to find a way to assist young Americans with this difficulty -especially the mentally-challenged and new immigrant children.

In setting aside the first letters of all 50 states, one glaring oddity appeared: NONE OF THE STATES BEGAN WITH THE LETTER ‘E’. ‘E’ IS THE MOST COMMONLY USED LETTER IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, YET NO STATE BEGAN WITH THAT LETTER.

I could immediately see that if I wrote a short poem using all the first letters of the 50 states, and join them with as many ‘E’s as my verse requires, then students would only have to memorize the poem and they’d have the key to their 50 states. It wasn’t easy, but by early 1971 I had a poem I liked. I called it: THE MORNING OF AMERICAN PEACE (1776)

It went like this: SINCE KINGS’ MEN MAIM, (BECAUSE THE SOLDIERS OF BRITAIN’S KING GEORGE ILL-TREATED US,

UNITED, WE MEN OVERCAME. WE UNITED AND BEAT THE BRITISH. WITH OUR NEW-FOUND FREEDOM, WE

PEACE? LOVE? FAME? EXPERIENCED PERSONAL PEACE, LOVE AND FAME FOR ALL COLONISTS).

NOW WE MEN KNEW THEM !

SO HERE WAS OUR NEW POEM ABOUT THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE: A BETTER, FASTER, AND MORE LASTING WAY TO LEARN THE U.S. STATES:

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

AND WHEN WE TURN THE PAGE, WE HAVE YANKED ALL OF THE ‘E’s AND ONLY 50 LETTERS REMAIN, EACH REMINDING YOU OF WHICH STATE THEY REPRESENT.
 
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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

IT JUST SO HAPPENED THAT AT THE TIME I COMPLETED THE STATE POEM, THAT I LEARNED PRESIDENT NIXON WOULD BE VISITING PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU FOR TALKS OF MUTUAL INTEREST. WITH AMERICA’S BICENTENNIAL (1976) ONLY FOUR YEARS AWAY, I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A GREAT TIME TO OFFER MY STATE POEM AS A BICENTENNIAL GIFT TO AMERICAN CHILDREN, HENRY LAWLESS, TRUDEAU’S SECRETARY, DIDN’T AGREE WITH ME. “SOLICIT THE AMERICAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY,” HE SAID. “TRUDEAU AND NIXON WILL CENTRE ON TOPICS OF MUTUAL CONCERN.”

I was bitter about the Lawless letter, but in the meantime had discovered that none of the 50 state capital cities began with the letter ‘E’. That meant that I could write another poem using the first letters of the 50 state capitols and join those letters with as many letter ‘E’s as I needed. To hell with Lawless, if I could write a good verse for the capital cities, I’d have all 100 items covered and ready for American children to thrive in this new-age response to their hitherto boring, rote skills learning. I’ll skip those jackasses in Ottawa, and go directly to the Nixon Whitehouse, where they’ll be a lot more accommodating for their own school children, and where plans for the bicentennary must be already underway. As I waited for a response from the Nixon White House, here is the second poem that I wrote using the first letters of all 50 state capitals and a bunch of ‘E’s:

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

NOTE: Sorry, the first poem was easy to understand, but this one requires an explanation. First, the title is:

THE MOURNING OF WORLD PEACE (EVERY DAY)

‘JETS’ in this poem represent suicide bombers; not just the kind that hit the trade towers, but individuals too who walk into market squares and set off bombs attached to themselves, or hide bombs in vehicles and move to safety for their wicked selves.

‘PEACE’ is personified as a woman whose personal mecca is a land of no ill will.

‘BLEED’ is drain, as in ‘bleeding one’s brakes’. These bombers leave Peace pale and cadaverous.

‘CHASTISE’ the cruel folks scold Peace because she bleeds/drains any case for their existence.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

AS I AWAITED WORD TO COME FROM NIXON’S BOYS, IT SOON BECAME EVIDENT THAT THEY WERE BIGGER CROOKS THAN ANY WE HAD BEEN DEALING WITH THUS FAR. WATERGATE WAS FLOODING THE HALLS OF CONGRESS AND THE SENATE AND MY CHANCES OF EVER GETTING ONE OF NIXON’S LACKEY’S TO READ MY POEMS BEFORE HE WOULD BE JAILED FOR STEALING THE DEMOCRATS SECRETS WERE LIKELY ONE IN A BILLION. NO WONDER I HADN’T HEARD FROM THEM. THE CROOKED BASTARDS.

I was so discouraged by the Nixon White House that I decided to send the material to Canadian leaders, U.S. Congressmen, and the Reagan White House. The Premier of BC, the former Prime Minister of Canada, and Congressman Norman Shumway, sponsor of the English Language Amendment, all praised my efforts. The Reagan White House on the otherhand said that it appeared that the author of the state capitals poem was calling the USA war mongers. I received this disappointing news from a direct phone call from Mr. Shumway.

Numerous times when I showed Canadians the American poems, I would be asked why something similar couldn’t be done for Canada’s Capital cities, provinces, and territories. OK, so here it is for all Canucks:

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN) 

S O N N Y N. M A N N, Q B/ P

SK ON NB NS YK NWT MB AB NV NFL QB BC PEI

THIS MYTHICAL TRIPLE-THREAT QUARTERBACK WAS DESIGNED

TO BE A MASCOT FOR THE CFL WITH AN ARTIST’S RENDERING OF

A PLAYER IN A TEAM CANADA UNIFORM TO HONOUR THE CFL’S

100 YEAR HISTORY. A GOOF-UP BY THE CFL’S SECRETARIES

CAUSED ME TO SEND A SECOND MAILING, ONLY TO LEARN THAT

MY CONTACT SECRETARY WAS ON HOLIDAYS AND MARK COHON,

THE COMMISSIONER, PROBABLY NEVER DID SEE IT. ANYWAY,

NOBODY COULD BE MORE ALL-CANADIAN THAN A GUY WHOSE

NAME & TITLE REPRESENTS ALL 10 PROVINCES & 3 TERRITORIES.

KENNY RUSS WARREN, THE MNEMONIC KING, STRIKES AGAIN !

OR

W H Y I F R E T Q C’S V O W

WPG HX YW IQT FRN REG EDM T.O. QC CHA STJ VIC OTT WHR

WHETHER FRENCH OR ENGLISH,

WE’RE CANADIANS BY BIRTH.

LET’S NOT SEPARATE

THE BEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!

BY:

S O N N Y N. M A N N, B & P Q

SK ON NB NS YK NF&L MB AB NWT NV BC PEI QB

In this case Sonny Mann is a member of the Bloc & Parti Quebecois. His French Canadian mother was married to an English Canadian man. Sonny yearned for peaceful coexistence. I do have a letter from the Bloc Quebecois confirming that Sonny Mann is a member of the Bloc.

I felt a little bad that only men were getting praise for winning the Revolutionary War against Britain, so I rewrote a version for girls. As it turned out, I liked it better than the original. Here it is as the front and back of a placemat at McDonald’s or Boston Pizza:

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

And also as an item by itself:

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN) 

Next week I will show you how I handled the 34 Chinese Provinces and territories and the 34 capital cities. There is far more excitement ahead–especially for Scrabble players and prize money.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)

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