Remembering teachers

Hi everyone,

This morning I became a Facebook friend with a musician. Which made me pause to remember the days of my “yute” when I, too, could call myself a musician. I remember when my parents bought my first trombone, a used Conn with a slide so out of line that I could hardly move it. I was nine.

Which made me remember my first brushes with music, as a kid when we lived in Arizona. I started school there in Ajo and my first grade teacher was Miss Helmi Nylon. She and my second grade teacher, Miss Irma Merrill, and my mother sang together in the church choir. I don’t want to say that I was a pet but I got selected to lead the rhythm band at school and wear an Uncle Sam costume. It was my introduction to music, and I liked it.

I never thought of that time so long ago when I stood before my classmates with a baton in my hand and led them through “My Grandfather’s Clock” as a life changing moment. But maybe, in a way, it was. Maybe it gave me a little edge, a bit of confidence, a brief experience that I still carry among my prized memories.

If I hadn’t been exposed to music in the first grade, perhaps my parents would have bought me a football when I was nine instead of a trombone. If I hadn’t become a professional musician, I wonder if poetry would have seemed like such a natural medium for my writing when I got around to it three decades later.

Maybe I’m overthinking this, but teachers do have a way of being there at so many of those moments when we are still wet in the mold, uncertain about so many things in our future, experimenting with who we are and who we want to be. Who’s to say, when some apparently trivial incident occurs, that it might not become a life changing moment.

Thank you, Miss Nylon. Thank you, Miss Merrell. You are both gone but will never be forgotten.

Anyone else want to share teacher memories that have stuck with you?

David

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6 comments on “Remembering teachers

  1. Beautiful memories, David. My elementary teacher, Miss Larsen, was so stylish. In those days, teachers always wore dresses, of course. And Miss Larsen wore spike heels and fire-engine red nail polish. She was as short as her tallest pupils and a wonderful teacher. Everyday after lunch was story time, and many of those times were poetry times. She stood perched on her heels in front of the class and read aloud. The effects on me have been lifelong and fulfilling.

    • Hi, Jane. You paint a stiking image of Miss Larsen. What an impact she had on you and, I dare say, on many other students too over the years when she taught.

  2. I love that you played the trombone-me, too. And I can still sing ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’ Best teacher: Mr. Columbotto, Cuban immigrant, social studies, 7th grade-widened my world tremendously!

    • Good morning, Linda. Thanks for sharing Mr. Columbotto. Maybe we should start a club limited to poets who used to play trombone.

  3. DEAR DAVID:
    I’m a third to have played the trombone. Got me in the front row of the parade.
    Remember how clean the nun’s habits smelled; how graceful the life-sized rosaries were. I wore one too, for ten years. How approachable are these women, smelling of clean, un-made-up, with their unique personalities and dedication to our “still wet molds!
    Miss Nylon made you a story-teller just for me.
    Jeanne Poland

    • And I remember, Dear Jeanne, that you, too, blew a slush pump. Now we have a trio and we’re fearless! Good memories of the parade, the nuns, the rosaries . . .

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