Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Armadillo Club

            Early in my teaching career, maybe sometime in the 80s, I found myself faculty sponsor of Ann Arbor Huron High School’s Armadillo Club. I took the post of sponsor because I was asked by a student I liked. It seemed like a good idea at the time.


            As you may know, we have no native population of armadillos in Michigan. Nevertheless, we formed a club centered on these remarkable creatures – unknown to Michiganders but familiar as roadkill to Floridians. This random irrelevance was at the core of the club.


            Still, we did learn some interesting trivia about armadillos. For example, if an armadillo wanted to cross a river, it would hold its breath and walk across the river bottom. We also learned that armadillos were useful in leprosy research – which sounds pretty cool – though a recent google check simply said that contact with armadillos can cause leprosy.


            The primary goal of the Armadillo Club was to be the biggest club in the school, beating out the Ski Club. We succeeded, mainly by including, in our charter, that everyone in the school was a member unless they petitioned to be removed – which, for some reason, few did. One of the main appeals of our club was the photo taken for the yearbook. It was a warm sunny spring day, and when the announcement was made over the P.A. that it was time for the photo to be taken outside on the hill, the school virtually emptied. Success!


            A secondary, though unstated, goal was to make fun of more traditional school clubs, an expression of the counterculture movement at the time. Success!


            Kim joined in the cause by designing the Armadillo Club logo, and we worked out a motto: “Tough on the outside, tender on the inside.” We printed up some stationery. 


 I have adopted the motto as my own.


            I don’t want to take all the credit for the success of the Armadillo Club. The real organizing force was Sarah Dunning, a senior in my Humanities class and the daughter of my poetry professor at the University of Michigan. It was Sarah who got a U-M professor to give a talk to the club on armadillos. It was Sarah who somehow got hold of a video-tape (remember those?) of an armadillo race held somewhere in Texas. And Sarah organized a game called “Hugadillo” where participants were given the name of a person they were to hug, and if the hug were successful, the hugger was given the target of the hugged, gradually reducing the field to an eventual winner. (The game was based on a nasty game, perhaps called Murder or Assassination, but we thought the use of hugs made it OK. Probably not . . ..)


            When Sarah graduated, the Armadillo Club pretty much ended. The following spring one of my colleagues made a comment about how “apathetic” seniors were if they had been accepted to college. I worked (briefly) with a few seniors to form the Apathy Club. We had one rule: if you attended an Apathy Club meeting, you were kicked out of the club. The yearbook picture of the club was, I believe, an empty room. I haven't bothered to check . . ..


  1. Non conformity Stephen Dunning was my poetry professor also.
    Sarah became a sailor & bought our life raft when she lived aboard her sailboat.

  2. I love this. It calls up a memory of when we high school nerdy seniors, responding to the cool exclusive fraternities, formed Mu Alpha Delta and sauntered into the basement fraternity parties, with lit cheap cigars, clearing the basements in a few minutes. Those times!