August 24, 1972, was, in terms of popular music anyway, a hot August night as Neil Diamond took the stage at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. “So pack up the babies and grab the old ladies” and follow my musings on this not so hot August night.
Here in New England the nights begin to cool in late August as the katydids and crickets join in their farewell to summer chorus. To me it always sounded like they were singing “Back to school . . . Back to school”. After a pretty routine summer, the not so hot August nights are stirring my sensitivity to retirement. I’m not going back to school . . . at least not in the same way I have for the past sixty years. So here I sit with my laptop (didn’t see that coming in 1968) trying to sort through a huge mixed bag of feelings.
I honestly don’t remember walking into Louise Hill’s first grade classroom in September 1952, but that’s when it began (there was no kindergarten in those days). I’m not sure if it was Mrs. Hill who instilled a love of reading or if it was being a star in all those Dick and Jane stories (I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to me next). Anyway, I loved school . . . I still do.
After Mrs. Hill came Miss Monat, Mrs. Rowe, Miss Lundquist, Miss Louth, Mrs. Rogers, Mr. Della-Guistina, and Mr. Desmond. When I moved on to high school there were Mrs. Benway, Mrs. Kellogg, Mr. Syrenne, Mrs. Hardy. I mention them here because they deserve to be remembered, and because I channeled every one of them to become a teacher. At the same time I think of Donna, Dave, Kathy, Grace, Dawn, Teresa, and other former students who, themselves, have become teachers. I find great comfort in knowing they are carrying on. Henry Adams said it: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
As September approaches I travel the Circle of Life to share with the next generation of human service providers my years of experience. I will be teaching part-time at a local community college. It feels right . . . “Hot August night and the leaves hangin’ down
And the grass on the ground smellin’ – sweet. . .”