RIP Gary Gygax

The creator of Dungeons and Dragons, which is what geeks did with their free time before coding web pages, has died. Gary Gygax brought us the game that required imagination, multi-faceted dice, and graph paper. The guys didn’t want to teach me how to play, but I made them. I was never heavily into it, but I liked it and would be glad to play it again sometime.Yes, I went to the geek school. Ben Franklin was created in 1957 as New Orleans’ answer to Sputnik. It was the math and science school, and admissions were based on GPA, CTBS (if I recall), and IQ scores. Upperclassmen were hysterical when total enrollment topped 700. It was the kind of place where you could leave your purse, your books, your backpack sitting on the front steps and you would find them still there whenever you came back. Our legendary powerhouse football season–the best record in 12 years!–was 3-4. Yes, three wins and four losses. You’d have thought we’d won the freaking Superbowl. Our reputation for kicking other schools’ butts was generally reserved for Prep Quiz Bowl. We were the only public school on the national list of Top Ten college prep schools (Andover, Exeter, etc.). Many students split the day between Franklin and NOCCA.It was a safe place for people who actually enjoyed learning. We took Latin, chemistry, and computer programming when almost no teenagers had even seen a computer in their lives. We had geeky traditions like arranging the garbage can lids (on the roof) into our graduating class number, oral traditions handed down over decades (“Where’s the swimming pool? On the third floor. How do you get there? The elevator,” or “On the first day of class, when Mr. Weyer asks you “What is chemistry?,” tell him…”), and Christmas carolers wandering around in togas and laurel wreaths singing, “Adeste fideles, regum angelorum, venite, venite en Bethlehem….” We were stuffed to the gills with polyglots, Eagle Scouts, Ivy scholarship riders, AAU swimmers, and professional musicians starting early. And we played D&D.It was another time and place.  Thanks, Gary, for helping to make it special–and for developing so many of our imaginations. You are probably singlehandedly responsible for thousands of engineers, if nothing else.Therefore, on behalf of all Franklinites everywhere: Pythagorean Theorem! Square root of four! RNA! DNA! Score, score score! Rest in peace at  the top level.  

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