What is a monkeybox?

When I was a little girl, we had a pet monkey named Amanda. My Dad worked in the produce business, so each night he brought home that days culls in a big box - spotty cucumbers, pithy apples, limp celery, moldy oranges and the like. We called it a monkeybox. It was really just trash, but my Mom would take each piece of fruit and trim it, pare it and cut it up to make a beautiful fruit platter for Amanda. Even though it was deemed trash by one, it still had life left in it and was good for the purpose we needed it. That's how I live my life - thrifting, yard saling, looking for another's trash to be my treasure.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Field Trips from HELL

When I was in Elementary School, I don't remember taking many field trips.  We always went to The Aquatic Center, which was actually a day long lab class at the lake.  We would go out and look at algae on the lake, learn to use a compass to get back to base camp and other fun outdoor activities that I DID NOT LIKE.  But, it was a day away from regular school and fun to be with my friends and eat a sack lunch - even if my Mom DID pack it in a full size brown grocery bag with my name written in six inch high letters SHARA LEE on it.  Ahem.  

When The Bean was in Elementary School I chaperoned on many, many field trips - the fire station, the dinosaur exhibit, the Agriculture Park, the University of Arkansas, a train ride, the Wildlife Preserve and on and on.  Fun, age appropriate trips.

When I was in High School, I took two very different field trips.  One that scarred me for life - seriously - and one that freaked me out for other reasons.  Wanna know where I went?  Trip 1:  The Mortuary  Trip 2:  Prison  


Trip #1: Let's start with the Mortuary since that scarred me forever.  First of all, we saw things that no one should ever see unless they have decided that they want to be a Mortician.  What happens at the funeral home stays at the funeral home, am I right?  You just do NOT want to know how things happen and what they do and how Grandma stays looking like Grandma FOREVER if you get my drift.  Also, it is very important to add that the teacher that took us there and made us SEE all these things with our very own EYES was.............wait for it............BLIND.  Yes, a blind teacher made us see the embalming tables and the hoses and drains and stains and OH MY GOD.  Seriously, can I still sue them for this after all these years?

First we toured the casket room.  I had only dealt with one death prior to that and I was a child, so I was kept out of all that stuff.  I just sat in a pew and ate an entire roll of five flavor Life Savers and looked at my shiny black Patent leather Mary Jane's and ruffled socks.  But, I digress.  We looked at the caskets, and some fake silk flower arrangements, and a rack of clothes.  Some of the girls needed a diversion, so they were looking at the suits and nice dresses on the rack.  That's when they told us that you could rent, I say, RENT those suits and dresses for the "viewing" if the deceased didn't have anything proper to wear.  Whoa, Nellie.  Those girls dropped those clothes and headed straight to the bathroom to scald their hands.

Then we went to the room.  You know what room I mean.  Chemicals, tables, scales, refrigerated drawers, sheets, rolling tables.  'Nuff said,

So, that's probably more than you wanted to know about the Mortuary.  There's more deep in my head - but I will save you from that.  You're welcome.

Trip #2:  Oklahoma State Penitentiary

This is a bad ass prison full of hard core prisoners - murders, rapists, serial killers.  Signs all up and down the highway read "DO NOT PICK UP HITCH HIKERS."  Uh, okay.

When we got to the Prison, we had to go through the metal detectors and get frisked.  Now, this is really personal - but I was 16 and I was having my "monthly visitor" if you get my drift and I was TERRIFIED that when they frisked me they would think I had a bundle of cocaine all up in there if you know what I mean.  YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?  Luckily, it was a lady that did it and she didn't throw me to the ground and cuff me.  WHEW.

Next we went to a room where the Warden greeted us and said we would be going into the actual prison.  Uh, WHAT?  No thanks, this is good enough.  See ya.  Bye.  I'm outta here.  But, no.  We went in the prison.  The last words the Warden said were, "IF a prisoner were to grab any of you, we do not do bargaining. So, keep back."  CAN WE LEAVE, PLEASE?  Nope.  Okay.  So, we go into the prison and we walk in front of the cells.  The prisoners are in their locked up cells and they can see we are young and afraid and we were just told that if one of them grabs us, big Whoop.  So, of COURSE - they stick their arms out and try to grab at us with their hands.  There was a retaining wall in front of the cells so we had to walk with our backs to it and slide sideways along the corridor while they grabbed at us and by us I mean our BREASTS.  Saying cute little prisoner things like, "Gimme them t*tties."

We finally got out of there and we were all so happy to be DONE.  Oh, what's that?  It's lunch time? Let's go through the cafeteria while they are eating?  MAMA!  COME GET ME!  Nope.  So, we go to the cafeteria and walk along the sides with they are all eating.  These are the lesser criminals, (but still criminals, am I right?) and they see a group of teenagers, so they start banging their trays and making cat calls to make us all shake in our boots.  There were guards with shot guns standing around the edges of the room, so no one stood up or made a dart for us.  'Cause KABOOM if they did.  Where were those dudes with the guns when they were feeling us up in the hallway??????

During our question and answer time with the guards and Warden I asked if the prisoners were ever reminded WHY there were actually there.  I suggested that a photo of their victims in their cells so they would have to see that face every day.  The Warden actually thought that was a good idea.  After that, we left.  It was GREAT to get out of there and head home again.  Our hitch hiker really enjoyed the trip!  HAHAHAHA

Every thing you just read was completely true except that last sentence.  I SWEAR!

Edited to add:  I was in the Gifted Program in my High School (NO REALLY!) and as part of that I was exempt from some classes that were required by most.  It was during those times of the day I was able to sit in on other classes in higher grades, work on the Student Newspaper, attend field trips with other classes (the Prison field trip was in a Senior Pre-Law course) or work on projects I was interested in such as working with a group of deaf preschoolers twice a week for a year.  Most of all of this was good.  Except the Mortuary.  And some of the Prison. 


  1. Oh, your post today was both hilarious and horrifying! What were the adults THINKING? I have never heard of more inappropriate field trips. You did a great job on this post, it was very well-done!
    Laurie S.

  2. Yikes! Our school did both of those field trips too, but I didn't go on either one. My mom was too freaked out by the idea of those trips to send me. Since we just had a big prison riot in Nebraska where people died and the prison burned, I think she made the right decision. I'm sorry it was so bad for you, but this did me a good laugh for the day and in all this rainy, dreary weather we need all the laughs we can get! Mary (masteinbrink@msndotcom)

  3. where the hell was the principal of the school to allow those field trips?
    but you remembered them I do not remember any field trips in high school.

  4. I have a lot of field trip stories (both my own and chaperoning for the kids) but yours TOPS mine by leaps and bounds. Crazy trips and I can't believe an adult would think those were appropriate for school. YIKES.

  5. I cannot even. Seriously. UNREAL.

  6. I'm still sitting here with my mouth hanging open... I mean, oh.good.golly. Whatever issues you might have as an adult - you are entitled!

  7. I can't even imagine taking kids on either one of those field trips. I am sitting here with my mouth open in utter disbelieve. Wow! I can't think of anything else to say. So sorry you had to go.

  8. Ok. Totally inappropriate field trips but they sure made a fabulous blog post. Did I ever tell you that my parents own a funeral home? They still own a funeral home. Yep. All those things that you mentioned were a daily part of my life. It gets better. My maiden name is Hurst and my father would drop me off at the high school in a hearse some mornings. Imagine the jokes. I have no plans on taking over the family business, hence my position at a University.

  9. When my daughter was in high school, she got busted for underage drinking. Her punishment from the juvenile court was to work a weekend at a coroner's office. In Los Angeles. She LEARNED her lesson but good!

  10. Oh YEH - we both were warped to our current level by class field trips - except our annual trip was to ATTICA State Prison... And go figure, now I live in Auburn which houses a Maximum security prison AND is home to the 'Electric chair'!!!😳

  11. My oh my! This was such an interesting post. You're such a good writer.

  12. OMG, what the heck were they thinking!!! I guess the prison trip might have been so you would NEVER want to get sent there. Was the embalming trip so that you would NEVER want to die? Or maybe to work hard in school so you could afford your own funeral "viewing" clothes? And now I can't get the thought out of my head of them undressing someone's Grandma to reclaim the rented clothes right before they plop her in the ground.

  13. Sweet Jesus. Horrifying to say the least...however, made a great blog post! In high school we had a field trip scheduled to go to the maximum security prison here in Massachusetts (Walpole) and it was cancelled at the last minute. Apparently someone came to their senses.

  14. OK. Some day I'll get my google posting skills in order. What I wrote in my message that vanished is, on a trip through Indiana, we saw similar signs about picking up hitchhikers, that it was a high escape area. This was near a large juvenile facility. Creepy.

  15. Those were some scary field trips!!! The only field trip I remember, and I barely remember it, was a trip to the Jiffy Mix factory.

  16. OMG I laughed till I cried! Just when I think your childhood could not get more interesting you throw out a mortuary AND a prison story. Priceless. Thank you Shara for making my day, I so needed that!

  17. Sorry, I am late posting but I have been going to baseball and softball games for grandkids in 90 heat which to me is another kind of WTH! I almost spit out my coffee at this! OMG, I can't believe you got to do such interesting things when you were in high school! NOT! I would have been mortified, too! Oh those were the years!

  18. Anonymous10:16 PM

    I remember the funeral home excursion too!! Did they take you to McAlister? My sister lived close to there and we would see the hitch hiker signs every time we traveled there!
    I'm surprised the FFA didn't do a field trip to the McAlister prison rodeo! LOL I wonder if they still do the rodeo? Thanks for the laughs and the memory! And happy, happy anniversary! Isn't it amazing, we are both still 29! BAHAHAHA Susan

    1. Susan!!!! Yes we went to McAlister - scary stuff! I am glad you remember the funeral home trip - or maybe I wish you didn't. What was that teacher's name - do you remember? The blind man???? Yes, being 29 is wonderful! Let's see - I guess you and I have been friends for 42 years???????? <3

    2. Anonymous10:55 PM

      No I don't remember the teachers name...I just remember the very handsome mortician who I was mortified that someone that tall and handsome could have such an icky job!! Yes on the 42years and we are still rockin 29 for the past 20 years!!


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