When I was in Elementary school, the biggest concern our teachers had was that we were “sneaking” cinnamon toothpicks into class. The cinnamon oil was bought from the pharmacist at the drug store – a tiny, flat-sided bottle with an even smaller mouth. We’d jam in a dozen or so beige wooden toothpicks and leave them to marinate for a few days.

Once deliciously premeated, we’d take the bottle to class, where prying out a ripe toothpick as a gift was a straight-shot to being a Cool Kid.

Our teachers, concerned by distractions from class and the possibility of us swallowing a splinter of chewed wood, followed the cinnamon scent straight to the criminal, who’d be forced to surrender the treasured stash. The year cinnamon toothpicks were a fad was our child’s biggest war with The Man.

Meanwhile, our parents learned Neil Young’s song of murders on the campus of Kent State, the details largely kept from us.

We children of the 60’s grew up with “the policeman is your friend.” We thought school was our safe place, and our soldiers were on “our side.”

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