Wednesday, September 03, 2014

the teachers you remember - a post without pictures

we all have teachers we remember...sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for not so good ones.

~ mrs. polly, who made us try sardines on saltines in kindergarten and who made sheila madsen disappear after she cried at school, leaving one thinking one had better not cry at school or one might disappear oneself. tom pranger also cried and both he and his brother tim, who did not cry, disappeared as well. crying was not a good thing to do in kindergarten.

~ mrs. bushman, who divided us all into blue birds, red birds and yellow birds according to our ability to read "saw" as "saw" and not "was" and to not leave a puddle of pee beneath our desks on a regular basis. come to think of it, you could still be a blue bird and pee your pants regularly, as jody hoekman proved again and again, so it must just have had to do with reading ability.

~ mrs. luze, who was the subject of a horrible joke by my father, who stamped one of my worksheets with a "horseshit" smiley stamp and asked her if that wasn't a little harsh. she stared at him in wide-eyed horror, her jackie o bouffant perfectly coiffed (it was the 70s, but the 60s lingered on in south dakota, we were a little behind, after all).

~ miss maryann. my favorite grade school teacher. she who taught us about chicken soup with rice and allowed us to choose spelling words like uruguay and triskaidekaphobia. she was in a horrible car accident and ended up in a body cast in pierre. i think i had nightmares about that for years afterwards. i think her husband owned the seattle mariners for awhile at one point. or was it the super sonics?

~ mrs. petersen. she put up with horrendous plays we made up ourselves, based on various combinations of nancy drew and the hardy boys. they were interminable and she allowed them, but she punished us by making us sit together in desk groupings with boys.

~ mr. teller. he lived in the apartment across from my grandmother and always had the yuckiest warm coffee breath which he breathed on you in a moist, uncomfortable way if you asked him a question. not that long ago, dad mentioned that he was a vietnam vet with issues. that i did not realize at the time...the vet part at least (tho' of course, for years, i thought veteran's day was veterinarian's day, so there was that aspect), i do, however, think i picked up on the issues.

~ mrs. blunck. she had been a teacher for too long and hated children. i remember when i wore my first pair of high heels to the 6th grade...they had awesome wooden, chunky heels and were brown leather with colorful leather stitches. she told me to wait to grow up. which, in retrospect, might have been wiser than i thought it was at the time. but i still maintain she hated children. and i think she might actually have been a man. a very short, stout, child-hating man.

~ mrs. walker. the superintendent's wife, with her severe haircut, gabardine pantsuits and cowboy boots. on the day ronald reagan was shot, they announced it over the school's pa system. i, perhaps a bit too cheerily, and with more than a tinge of hope in my voice, asked, "is he dead?" and she made the entire class stay after school because of my disrespect for the president (that made me very popular, i tell you). i was already a liberal in the 7th grade. i will say tho', that she taught me how to draw using perspective and for that, i am grateful, tho' i've never been that fond of polyester since then.

~ mrs. tappe. she always seemed classy and a little bit above the fray and like she didn't really need the job but did it just for fun. she taught us girls how to take shorthand and do other officey-things, like filing, that girls should learn in those days. i liked her and i liked shorthand too.

~ mrs. leistra. gabardine and cowboy boots - she and mrs. walker clearly shopped the same fashion crime scene, but she had an even more severe haircut. i learned to type from her on an ibm selectric. i'm still using that skill at this very moment (tho' i have thankfully graduated to an apple product) and no, i don't need to look at my keyboard. tho' maybe i'd have learned it anyway as i'm pretty much bred to be good at typing.

~  mr. hirt. they gave him history because it didn't matter that much (maybe they knew we'd eventually be able to google any historical knowledge we needed to know). he was actually the football and wrestling coach. he could be easily led astray during a boring recounting of the civil war and made to tell stories of the brave wrestlers of the university of iowa, which always seemed a little bit like being in a john irving novel, so i liked it. i believe i eventually went to the university of iowa because of him, but oddly, i don't think he went there himself.

~ mr. schaefer. i'll never forget the day he droned on and on about filling out tax forms while dressed as gilligan (tho' i have a more hazy recollection of why he did that). he looked strikingly like gilligan even in his regular attire and it was very difficult not to laugh during the entire hour. i think there was more to him than we realized at the time. he coached girls basketball.

~ mr. harvison. bitter man who, despite the triple major to which he loved to refer, never really seemed to amount to all that much himself. he was, naturally, appointed guidance counselor, as we weren't really supposed to amount to all that much either, being from a small town as we were. we shouldn't have too many aspirations. after all, we could never live up to mr. harvison's own triple major. i was never clear what it was in, but when he taught psychology, he liked to use, by name, various people in town and former students as examples of the various psychoses (there's likely a whole other blog post in recounting those). i spent my time in his physics class reading dostoevsky. i think it's probably why i eventually got a fulbright. funnily, enough, i don't think mr. harvison ever got one of those.

~ mr. markhart. the math teacher. he had a ruler and he wasn't afraid to wack it against a desk. i think i was actually better at geometry than i was supposed to be as a girl, but managed to pull myself back to the level where i belonged where algebra was concerned. mr. markhart wanted us to think he was strict, but actually, he liked kids and got more of a kick out of us than he let on. and we really did learn stuff from him, and not only how much force it took to break a wooden ruler, but actual math and things.

what teachers do you remember?

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