Looking through my dog-eared yearbook Mrs. Rowe always comes to mind. I
find it interesting that our creamy white faculty and our creamy white
student body was fortunate to have a dedicated teacher at a time when it
was probably very difficult for a woman of color to find a position in an
upscale high school. I mean this was the 60's. But never once in mind did
I ever think of her as being black, I only thought of her as being so
conscious of who we were, our confusion at a time of global responsibility
and our difficulty in setting our compasses in the right direction. She
set the course for me when I asked a question about the looming Vietnam
Although we were still a couple of years away from finding out what our
future might bring and our responsibilities, I asked "what if I don't want
to go to war, what if I want to move away to Canada". She responded by
explaining the legal obligations of what was the edict at that time.
Following the laws of the land. But then she explained we had a moral
obligation as well. If we felt in our hearts that there were injustices in
the world, then we should stand up and express those opinions. It scared
me to think about the repercussions that might result. I'm guessing her
comments were more directed to the race wars that were slowly brewing but
it still gave me the help in deciding about my service to the country.
Ironically, a couple of years later after college, I decided to serve in
the Air Force. Not necessary in favor of the War but still be willing to
stand up and express my opinion if injustices needed to be corrected.
On a lighter side, or maybe a more institutional perspective, my ability
to cipher' is through the teachings of Charles Mumma. Ask me any math
question and I'll solve it for you. Hell, I can even give you the correct
Lotto numbers, it may not be on the same day that they pick them, but they
will be the right numbers?? Mr. Mumma was a no-nonsense teacher who
treated you like a good ole' yellow dog. When you did good, he praised
you, when you screwed up he made sure you didn't make the same mistake
again. To this day I love math, algebra, geometry, statistics, calculus
anything to do with numbers. Maybe it is the one science where 2 plus 2
always equaled 4. You can always find the answer. Rest assured, I didn't
later become a rocket scientist but I still get a little buzz when a math
problem shows up in Marilyn Vos Savant's column in Parade magazine. And
Sudoku....give me a break...I was doing Sudoku when Sudoku wasn't cool.
"Every grain of sand effects the
If you ever had the chance to take Dorothy Herbst's English class, or
maybe it was called Humanities or something like that...the above sentence
still stands in your mind.
I had a sole purpose or maybe a soul purpose in enrolling in Ms. Herbst
class. ..To go to New York City...but I'll leave that story for a later
date because I really need to pay her a much-deserved due.
I had already wasted 3 years of idiocracy in my antics at Fairview....and
yes, if I had to do it all over again, I would have certainly studied
harder, became more involved in other activities like theater, or
art......but then I guess I wouldn't be what I am today....and to some,
who believe in me, that's not so bad.
But, I had a chance to maybe find my creativity with Dorothy and I blew
it. She so much loved what she did. She lived in the moment and could look
into one's eyes and see that beautiful sculpture that lay enclosed in a
block of marble and I just let her down.
She knew better than to struggle with me while I stole her time from much
more deserving students. She knew I had some kind of a gift, and she told
me so.....but that layer of protection that surrounded me, those
insecurities of fear of success that I misinterpreted as fear of failure,
prevented me finding my passion until years later.
Today, as I visit art museums or take in a play or relish in musicals, I
sometimes think what it would have been like if instead of trying to be
cool I would have tried to explore a deeper, a more intense, an exposure
of the soul type dedication to expressing emotion or feelings other than
just getting by for another semester in order to just have fun.
Yes, Ms. Herbst, I waisted your time and my time back then but perhaps
these little acts that I perform now in this blog as I strut and fret my
hour upon the stage I can repay you for your devotion to bringing out the
best in us.
And speaking of those who believed I had or have something to offer is
I remember her as fresh out of college wanting to teach and share her
passion for the written word as she was thrown into a class occupied by my
"Spagnola-type" behavior. A couple of years ago as I contemplated reaching
for my quill and parchment that I had so long ago set aside in search for
a more profitable career, she came across my earlier bloggings and we
began to correspond as I asked for direction and criticism as I pursued my
longing to be a writer. Through no fault of her own, I ran from our talks,
scared once again of that fear of success of wanting that passion for
telling my stories. Barbara, thanks for your help and I hope you can once
again enjoy my musings as I try to bring a laugh and a smile to everyone's