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Friday, March 14, 2008

A LETTER FOUND, A WOMAN RECALLED








When I found the copy of the Abhis (the literary magazine
of Abington High School ) with the infamous Margaret Chase
Smith poem, a folded piece of thin stationary paper fell out. I
picked it up, unfolded it, and saw that it was a thank you
letter from one of my favorite high school teachers, Mrs.
Trask:

June 26, 1966

Dear Will:
Thank you for your visit, this beautiful stationary, and
the card,
all of which I deeply appreciate. Because I have
missed you “kids”
since you graduated, I was especially
pleased, as well as surprised,
to see you.

It pleases me that you seem to look forward to BrH2O. I
do hope
you will enjoy it there, and find it a challenging
and pleasant
experience

Affectionately,
Alice Trask.”


("BrH2O" was the popular nickname for Bridgewater State
College.)

I was a sophomore when I transferred into Abington High
School from Cathedral High School in Boston. Mrs. Trask
was my English teacher that year as well as being head of
the English Department.

For some reason, she never quite got my first name right.
There had been a Wesley Whiting in her class the year
before and for a time she kept calling me “Wesley“. That
eventually became “Will” and my classmates changed that
into “Willy”. (To this day if someone walks up and calls me
“Willy” I know it has to be one of the kids from my high
school days. I’ve never been called that by anyone else
since except by one of them. When the clerk at the Town
Hall called me “Willy” two weeks ago, we had a nice chat
about the good old days.)

Despite the name thing, Mrs. Trask was one of my favorite
teachers. One of the units she taught was on poetry and
someplace around here I still have the assignment I turned
in to her with my first attempts at writing poems. She made
some encouraging comments and some suggestions and for
awhile I considered majoring in English and becoming a writer.
I can recall several of us visiting her after we graduated but
I’d forgotten about the stationary, and I’m not sure if it was
given because she may have retired that year.


As an aside, I believe her husband was the JP who presided
over the marriage of my sister and brother in law!

I had several other women teachers who I recall with a smile
when I think of them: Sister St. Paulinus who was the first
person I can recall making the “Go West, young man!” joke.
Miss Murphy, the second grade teacher who was my only
teacher crush and who was the person who introduced me to
the flutaphone. Dr. Noel, my Ancient History Professor in
college.

And yes, there are some that even across the space of 50
or 60 years whose names can bring back a bad memory or
two.

But the thing these women all have in common is that they
were my teachers. The things they taught, the words of
encouragement they said, these things made an impression
on me and my classmates and helped shape us into the people
we are today. And those women like my sister who are
teachers today carry on that mission, sometimes in conditions
that are less than ideal.

What teachers left a lasting impression on you?

((written for the 44th Carnival of Genealogy))

3 comments:

Janet I said...

Bill
My favourite teacher in elementary school was Rose MacLeod. I remember her patience in helping me learn to write so you could read it. She made learning fun. We would play a game that would drill our multiplication tables.

In high school, my favourite teacher was my French teacher who introduced me to the French language. She would put the phonetic spelling of the word on the blackboard. This was very helpful for a visual learner.

footnoteMaven said...

Bill:

Yes, teachers were so important in all our lives. I loved my English teacher in high school. Her daughter was one of my best friends.

Spending time with her daughter I had the opportunity to view her as a real person. Hours spent at her house in her library were golden.


My love of dictionaries came from her.

fM

Apple said...

I don't remember many of my teachers. Mrs Hatcher scared me to death and proved to me that I could do well in science classes.