The Jolly Green Graham


As early as the third grade, the year which is host to my first memories of Graham, something became clear to me and most of the class: it didn’t matter what you were learning, or how much you studied, or what you did. Chances were, Graham was probably the smartest kid in the room. This trait of his carried on all the way through 9th grade. Whatever came out of his mouth was insightful and/or witty.

On a completely separate, yet just as axiomatic subject matter, Graham’s love of green was unwavering and strong. In Waterbound, even as he portrayed Charles Darwin, the observant inventor of the theories of natural selection and evolution, Graham took it upon himself to interpret this character as one who wears a green suit (and a huge fake beard, obviously). In Penn Valley Elementary he was the Jolly Green Giant one year in the Halloween Parade. I have no idea why I remember this and not even what I was for Halloween during all of my years in Penn Valley, but I have a distinct memory of Graham explaining this to me as our grade marched through the thick crowd of cameras and parents, and also of thinking about the Green Giant-type guy on vegetable cans. I suppose that’s one of those weird types of memories that stick out among jumbled other in one’s past.

In Waterbound, one of the most tight-knit communities I’ve ever been a part of, Graham was central. It was clear he was in his element. He knew his birds, his trees, his history on the 2nd Continental Congress. It was obvious how well he fit in. Waterbound would have been an entirely different experience without Graham’s brains and happy-go-lucky character.

Now, in my biology classroom, stands a stuffed animal penguin wearing a green scarf. When I first saw it, it reminded me of one of the seemingly infinite amount of green shirts Graham had, which depicted a penguin, an ideal Graham combo.