Teachers I remember....

I heard a N(ational) P(ublic) R(adio) gig last December about teachers we remember.  Hmm, thought I, who do I remember?  What about them?

Then I remembered that I don't remember too much about them.  We moved several times due to my dad's work and that put me into a variety of schools.  In fact, I went to three 4th grades!  But starting in 7th grade my dad decided that was it for the moving.  He got back to where he wanted to be, and decided it was worth it to drive to LA every day about 7am, and coming home every night about 7pm.  We lived in Newport Beach and he once said that making the drive home made his weekends perfect for him.

Gosh, I had a lot of nice teachers.  Then I started thinking.  The ones I recall were actually ones that I didn't care much about, or didn't like the subject, or just thought stuff was whacked about how they taught.

Here they are:

Mr. Watkins - He taught algebra. I was in ninth grade.  He was a nice man.  He had an interesting blackboard technique. Yes, we didn't have white boards back then.  He wrote with his right hand and carried an eraser in his left hand.  He managed to have both hands on the blackboard.  He automatically erased with that left hand, everything that he wrote with his right hand.  It was uncanny and it was frustrating.  Nobody had the guts to say anything to him.  Mr. Watkins.

Bert Fields
- He taught geometry.  I see a pattern here, if a set of two make a pattern.  I had him in my sophomore year.  I kind of liked the class.  But what was amazing to me is my name, after the year with him, became "Sue".  So for the next two years I'd say "Hi, Mr. Fields!"  And he would say "Hi Sue!"  I'd be out with my friends and we see him, and he'd say, "Hi Sue."  It was kind of funny/weird.

Coach Hooper - This man was the coach of the water polo team and the swim team.  This guy was tough.  He rounded up his boys at lunch and they'd go to the locker room to eat.  He did not like girls.  He thought they would destroy his boys.  But the man knew how to put out good swimmers and he got the state's highest ratings for his teams.

Mr. Hooper taught art.  I took art from him my last year.  He made me cry.  He launched into me about my cheer leading uniform and wondered why we only cheered for football and basketball players.  I ran out of the class.  One of the other teachers saw me and wondered what was wrong.  I couldn't stop crying.

So as the head of the pep squad, I decided we would show up at the swim meets and water polo games.  That turned him around.  He even smiled for a moment.  And I never had another horrible day in his classroom after that took place.

Oh, and the other team we cheered for, another unknown, was the cross-country team.  We spread ourselves along the course, cheered for them and they loved us!

Larry Lutz - This guy wanted to be the 'in' guy.  He found out my nick name in junior high.  It was the worst time of my life.  He made no bones about saying it.

My worst fear was finding out that he was in high school!  ARGHH!  And now I had to deal with it for four more years?  So when he would call me _______, I started calling him Larry.  And that went on for four years.  Kids would wonder why I called him by his first name.  I simply said it was his name.

Don Tredway - This was another art teacher.  He was actually quite talented and showed his jewelry at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts.  Here's how he greeted us the first time in class.  "There is a right way, and a wrong way, and then there's a Tredway.  Start doing it the Tredway."  Seemed kind of weird that he wanted a Tredway, not another way...after all, it was art (huh)?

Steve Taylor - This guy was fabulous.  He was really good at chemistry.  I got an A first quarter and worked my way down to a D the fourth quarter.  It was my senior year.  I ended up taking a bit of time off  as we got into spring, and didn't get back from the beach to his class.  That was my D.  Sooo...after I took my final exam with him I told him "Mr. Taylor, I need a C- on my final.  I promise you I will never, ever take chemistry again.  Ever."  And bless his heart, a C showed up on the report card.  And I never, ever took chemistry again.

As I've written this, I realized a couple of things.  Mr. Taylor was the first serious person with whom I had a serious  negotiation, and we both came out winning.  I wasn't a science teacher, and I had a passing grade.

And Mr. Hooper, as I now see it, gave me a bit of a lesson of turning it around on him.  There have been a couple of times when I've solicited for new real estate business, via phone.  And boy those couple of times have been rough.

So what I've done each time, is go to the door and brought a big bouquet of flowers with me.  They didn't know what I looked like.  And I didn't know what their problem might be.  But I offered the flowers to them, letting them know I didn't want to leave a bad taste in their mouth.  And I said I was sorry, and walked away.  One of those men gave me my first golf lesson with a pro at a prestigious club, and we were friends until he died.  No, I didn't get to sell his house, but I did make a friend.

I realize that there are life lessons everywhere we look.  And the more I look back, the more I look forward to putting those lessons into my life.

Live richly,



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