The Founder

Preamble Part 1:

When I was growing up I was involved in program offered by Moorhead Public Schools for 4th-6th graders called STEP, an acronym for Supplemental Teaching and Enrichment Program. Basically an extra class for smart kids who would otherwise get bored with their regular classes. Wednesdays we would go to lunch early, bus over to Robert Asp Middle School, skip our regular classes, and do STEP instead. We worked on lots of projects over the years. I remember making blueprints for a house, learning hieroglyphics, designing a Mars rover, writing a song, and much more.

Before I was in STEP my older brothers were in STEP. I'm not sure how many or which of my brothers were in STEP but I know at least one of them was because our mom volunteered to be a classroom helper.
When I was 5 I attended morning kindergarten and would hang out at home with Mom during the afternoons.
Except for Wednesdays. Wednesday afternoons we would go to STEP; my mom would be a helper and I would participate as much as I could. Realistically, looking back, there was probably some quality differences between my projects and the real students, but I was pretty confident in my abilities. I'm sure that kindergarten me thought that I was just as smart as the accelerated 4th-6th graders.

Preamble Part 2:

For my 3rd or 4th Birthday my parents got me a Fisher Price McDonald's play set.

I actually found it hidden during the week between Christmas and my birthday. It would have been impossible for me to open the box and play with it without being discovered. I would sneak down to its hiding place and just stare at it, knowing soon it would be mine.

It was exactly like a real store; It had a cashier spot, a drive-through window, and a kitchen with "working" griddle and fryer. (Working in this case means you could set a timer and it would make crackling/frying noises.) It came with various meals to sell as well as an apron and headset. You obviously can't have a drive-through without a headset.

It was a great play set. It is still at my parent's house, regularly being used by my niblings and other young house guests.


Pointless Story:

One of the projects for STEP when I was a kindergartener was to give a report as a historical figure.
We would give the reports to a regular class of 6th graders.
You had to introduce yourself, tell an autobiographical tale, and then take questions.
Everyone in STEP picked their own historical figure to become. I chose to be Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's*. Maybe it was because of my great amounts of experience working in my McDonald's play set or maybe it was because I already had a ready made costume.
We worked for weeks; researching, investigating, and working to truly become our subject.

The day to give our reports finally came.
I was so ready and so excited. I brought my costume to morning kindergarten with me in my backpack even though Mom offered to bring it with her when she picked me up. I couldn't risk not having it.

In the STEP classroom we were given final instructions. We lined up single file and walked to a 6th grade classroom and stood in the front of the room ready to give our reports. I was about two-thirds of the through the line so I ended up standing standing just to the left of center.
They started giving reports on the right; Teddy Roosevelt stepped forward and started telling us all about his time in the Rough Riders.

As I stood listening to the first speakers I had a horrifying realization.
I was in front of a classroom of kids twice my age and I had just blanked on the name of my historical figure. I remembered facts about him. I remembered that he started McDonald's in 1954. I remembered he used to be a milkshake mixer salesman. I just couldn't remember his name.
It had completely left my brain.

Cleopatra stepped up and shared about Egypt.
I was trying my hardest but wasn't getting any closer to remembering. However the people giving reports were getting closer and closer to me.
Marie Curie warned us about radiation.

Magellan was right next to me. As he stepped up to tell of his great sailing adventures I still couldn't remember my name, but I had a lead. I was pretty sure it had a K sound in it somewhere, maybe two. Magellan navigated his strait and I knew my time was almost up.
I knew that deep down I knew my name.
I knew it was somewhere in my head.
I knew it would come to me.
I just had to be confident and give my report.
I had studied. I had practiced. I would be fine.

I looked out into a sea of faces twice my age staring back at me.
I stepped forward with purpose and determination. I started introducing myself without knowing how the sentence would end.

Mere moments before the syllables would escape my lips it came to me.
My all my preparation had paid off. I remembered. It was right. I was sure.

"Hi, I'm the founder of McDonald's, Davy Crockett."


As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew it was wrong.

And that is where my memory ends.
I have no memory giving the rest of my speech even though I know I did.
I can't recall if I eventually remembered "Ray Kroc" and corrected myself.
I don't remember the kids reactions. I don't know if they laughed or not.

Maybe I blocked it out and will never remember.


I asked my mom if she remembered what happened after I said "Davy Crockett."
She didn't remember me giving the presentation at all.



*My kindergarten investigative details of Ray Kroc "founding" McDonald's may not be as accurate as you would expect, especially pre-internet. For a more detailed (probably more correct) account check out wikipedia or watch "The Founder".

Thomas Kvamme1 Comment