This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on October 15, 1996
ANOTHER GLIMPSE OF `BUBBO' WRIGHT
1889-90 `High School Times' recalls Orville
by Roz Young
In almost every issue of the High School Times, the literary magazine published by the Philomathean Club of Central High School in 1889 and 1890, there is a note about Paul Laurence Dunbar, but the other member of the class of 1890 destined for later world fame left hardly a trace on the pages.
Orville Wright entered Central High School in September 1887. He was an average student during his freshman year, with 79 in Latin, 86 in algebra and 92 in botany. His botany drawings were exceptionally good, and his botany notebook has been preserved in the Wright archives.
In July 1912, a writer for the Aero Club of America Bulletin published an interview with Orville's botany teacher, William Werthner, on his memories of the Wrights.
Werthner said Orville was a `quiet, reserved boy, faithful in his work ... whom I would have forgotten had not his sister Kate in after years also attended or school and told me she was the second of her family to recite in my classes.'
In his sophomore year, Orville's grades improved to 90 in Latin, geometry and history.
In his junior year, Orville stopped taking courses that would lead to graduation from high school to devote more time to his printing business. A note on Page 10 in the first issue of the High School Times of 1889 said, `Orville Wright '90 is editor and publisher of the West Side News.'
On Page 15, a note said, `It is a great pleasure to add The West Side News (to our Exchanges). The editor, our school-mate, Orville Wright, is establishing a justly enviable reputation by the manner in which he conducts his paper. No doubt some day he will occupy a prominent place among the journalists of the country.'
The second issue, October 1889, of the Times reported,`Orville Wright has stopped the study of Latin.'
He did not return to high school in the fall of 1900, but in the April High School Times, the editor, William A. Blum, printed an essay on nicknames that Orville had left with him. In it, some of Orville's personal remarks give us a glimpse into the personality and thinking of young Orville Wright.
`A nickname may be a name given in contempt or derision,' he began. `When the Normans conquered the Saxons, they looked down upon them and gave them many ugly nicknames; but I think there was one man whom they did not include when they called the Saxons a drunken, lazy race.'
Good for Orville. He had mastered `whom' early on. Of how many high-school dropouts today can we say the same?
`I hardly think,' he observed, `they could have given a nickname which showed contempt to Harold, the last of the Saxon kings.'
He did not explain why.
`John I of England's nickname was given him because his subjects scorned and hated him,' his essay continued. `When he ascended the throne, there was one living who had a better right to it, his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, whom he murdered himself, or ordered to be slain by someone else, which I think is about the same thing. Arthur, being a vassal of the French king (as was John),' Orville continued, using a dangling participle, `Louis of France, called John to account for killing one of his subjects and thus had a pretext for declaring the English king's French dominions to be forfeited. ... Ever since he has been nicknamed John Lackland.'
Orville pointed out that, in families, nicknames are sometimes given because some of the names are too long to be pronounced properly. Orville, who was called Orv by family members all his life, was also called Bubbo because that was as near as Wilbur could come to `brother' when Orville was born. Katharine Wright often called Orville `Bubbo' in her letters.
George Washington's nickname was `Father of his Country,' said Orville, `and who will say he does not deserve the name? Lincoln is remembered as `Emancipator of the Slaves.' He and Garfield are also known as the `Martyred Presidents.' In my estimation, these are three of the most illustrious men that the United States ever had.'
In the conclusion to his essay, Orville got a little preachy, but he was, I am sure, sincere. `By what nickname shall we be known when we are no more? Do we wish to leave behind us a name which we shall not be ashamed of? Let us, then, guard our daily actions and live according to the light that is in us.'
The copies of the High School Times that provided material for these two columns were found in his mother's attic by Don Williams, 217 Monarch Road, Centerville.