Porcupine
Home Up Mr. Salls

   

Book One:
A SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS


PART TWO: HIGH SCHOOL HELL

CHAPTER NINE:
PORCUPINE

Written by Rick Archer

  2015, Richard Archer

 


SUBCHAPTER 39
- PUPPY DOG AND Porcupine

 

Throughout high school, I was damaged goods.

I was so self-absorbed that I never realized I posed the biggest discipline challenge of any student in the school.

I had a temper.  I was rebellious.  I hated criticism.  I talked back.  I argued.  I took offense at many imagined slights that other people would have ignored.  Everything rubbed me the wrong way.

I was two different people, a sort of Jekyll-Hyde.  One side of me was the "Porcupine".  The other was the "Puppy Dog".

The men who preferred to control me through authority and discipline saw my prickly side.  Fortunately there weren't many of those types at St. John's.  Good thing.  Considering my smart mouth, I would not have lasted there very long.

Unfortunately, one administrator took a real dislike to me.  

Mr. Murphy had been chosen for his position because he took great pleasure in enforcing the rules.  I had a running battle with this particular gentleman for my entire time at St. John's.  I was fortunate he wasn't the one who made the decision on my scholarship.  If it was left to him, Mr. Murphy would have revoked my scholarship a long time ago.  How do I know?  During one of our heated arguments, he told me so.  He said my flagrant disrespect for the rules of the school violated any privilege to attend.  In his opinion, I had discarded any right to attend this prestigious academy.

Naturally I argued back.  I took offense to that position and said he was wrong.  I said I only disagreed with the rules that made no sense.  Furthermore, wasn't he exaggerating things a bit?  Just because I ran in the hall so I wouldn't be late to class was hardly justification for revoking my scholarship.

This man made my life miserable.  Mr. Murphy hassled me about my long hair, my dress code violations, my lack of proper respect for him, my frequent tardiness, my habit of running in the halls, and my argumentative attitude in general. 

I don't think he liked me.  The feeling was mutual.

I went toe to toe with Mr. Murphy at least once a week.  He would find me in the hallway and pull me over just like a traffic cop doing random shakedowns.  He would look me over till he found a violation.  Invariably he would find something wrong with me. It didn't take long; one look at my hair usually did the trick. Back to Penalty Hall. 

Thanks to all the anger in my system, I found ways to defy him any way I could. I discovered that letting my hair grow long was the easiest way to irritate him.  In my Junior year, I decided my new identity was Surfer Boy.  One of my classmates drew this accurate caricature of my surfer look that year.  Notice the sneer.  Notice that the eyebrows don't match the hair... I had bleach-dyed my hair blonde. 

Mr. Murphy and I had some great debates on why certain Rules were important, but arguing about my hair became our favorite topic. I defended my long hair strenuously.

Why can't I wear my hair to my shoulders?  Is there some place in the Bible where God said man shall have short hair?  Didn't Jesus have hair to his shoulders?  And why is it okay for girls to have long hair but not for me? 

Why can't I dye my hair blonde if I want to?  Robert Redford's hair is blonde.  And what about the girls?  You let the girls dye their hair blonde.  What is the point of this rule on hair?  What are you trying to teach me here? 

While we are at it, can you show me where the St. John's code of conduct specifically forbids boys to dye their hair a different color?  I bet there is no rule that I can't dye my hair!  You can't just make these rules up and pretend I am going to take your word for it.  Show me the rule!

Ah, defiance!  I was quite the young rebel.  I think it is obvious that I had trouble faking a respect that I didn't feel. 

Although I respected authority where it was due, my contempt for unenlightened authority would remain a real problem for years to come, perhaps even a lifetime.  I never learned how to keep my mouth shut.  Later in life, that failure would cost me dearly.  I was thrown out of Graduate school specifically because I argued with the chairman of the department.

Mr. Murphy expected me to follow the rules because they were the rules.  I thought some of the rules were stupid and asked Mr. Murphy to explain what the rules were trying to accomplish.

Mr. Murphy tried for a while... "they instill discipline", "they keep order", "rules are made for a reason"... but I had a field day poking holes in his arguments.  Finally Mr. Murphy lost all patience with my insolence.  From this point on, when asked to explain the thinking behind the rules, he got tired of explaining "why" my hair needed to be much shorter.  Instead, he adopted an 'obey or else' attitude.

"You will wear your hair short because it's a rule."

"You will get a haircut because I told you so."

I would promise to get a haircut and then fail to bother.  Eventually, Mr. Murphy would see me again and sentence me to yet another Saturday morning at Detention Hall.  What Murphy didn't know was that I didn't care.  He could send to D-Hall every single Saturday if he wanted to because he never learned my weakness - boredom.  If he had forbidden me to do homework in D-Hall, he would have had me.  Fortunately he never caught on, so I continued my defiance.

Hey, I was Surfer Boy.  My long, bleach blonde hair was my rather sad way of getting attention.  At least I was noticed from time to time for something other than my scar face.  I would rather go to Penalty Hall than get my hair cut.

I went to work at the grocery store on Saturday at 10 am.  Detention Hall ran from 8-9 am for minor infractions or 8-10 am for major infractions.  So I went to D-Hall, got some studying done, then headed over to work.  Big deal.

Since D-Hall was no sweat off my back, I actually took a perverse pleasure in our ongoing battle of wills.  I refused to be broken. 

These were the times at school when I turned into the Porcupine, a thoroughly dislikable young man who lashed back at anyone who rubbed me the wrong way.  I had a sarcastic streak a mile wide and I argued about everything... but exclusively with this one man. 

Just me and Mr. Murphy, my sparring partner.  I never argued with anyone else at the school.

The arguing began in my Junior year.  I had been on the verge of becoming disagreeable in the 8th grade.  However, thanks to the acne, I had spent my Freshman and Sophomore years in a state of depression and near-constant silence.  If someone on the faculty chewed me out, I was too ashamed of my red face to retort. 

However, starting in my Junior year, thanks in large part to my new life at the grocery store, I came out of my shell.  Now due to all the pent-up anger from my two year battle with acne, I was in a fighting mood.  Teenage rebellion consumed me.

Whenever someone looked at me sideways, I would start an argument.  I was having angry fights with my mother, I was having arguments with my new boss at work, and I was constantly in hot water with Mr. Murphy, the school's designated defender of the dress code. 

I was mad at the world and wanted to make damn sure the world knew about it.  I remained defiant at all times. 

It was all for naught.  Mr. Murphy had the upper hand.  I fought Authority and Authority won.  I spent many a Saturday morning in Detention Hall in my Junior and Senior year thanks to my nemesis.  I didn't care.  So I had an hour to study.  You call that punishment?

I had such a smart mouth.  I am sure there were moments when Mr. Murphy probably just wanted to slap me.

Can't say as I would have blamed him.  Where Mr. Murphy was concerned, I was a real jerk.  I should have admired him for his self-control. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 40
- Puppy Dog

 

The Puppy Dog side contained my decent side.  I never gave my teachers a single bit of trouble.  They never saw the angry kid; they saw only my side that was eager to please.  I was blessed with an unending series of highly talented instructors.  Since I respected these men and Mrs. Anderson, my only female teacher, I cooperated to the fullest.  

They in turn recognized that I worked as hard as any student in their class.  They also saw how moody I was and how poorly I reacted to criticism.   

My teachers discovered that if they treated me gently, I would turn into a puppy dog.  Therefore, rather than control me through discipline, all they had to do was smile and I would do anything they asked. 

With me, it was all in the "approach".  Tell me what to do and I would snap back.  Ask nicely and I was a softy. 

We had some incredible teachers at St. John's.  I could name a dozen names of men and women whose tutelage had a memorable effect on me.  However, there was one particular teacher, Mr. Powell, who reached out to me in a very special way. 

Mr. Powell was my 6th grade English teacher.  Not only was this was his first year at St. John's, I think it may have been his first year of teaching.  Mr. Powell encouraged us to learn creative writing.  One day early in the school year, he made us an offer. 

If we wrote a 100 page story, he would type it up for us.  There were several students who took him up on the offer, but most quit early in the game.  Only Nancy Paxton and I made it to the finish line.  As part of our deal, it was our job to produce 20 pages a month. 

My book was the Power of Gold.  I wrote a gruesome tale about Spanish conquistadors who ravaged helpless Incan tribes of Peru in search of gold.  I emphasized the cruelty of the Spanish to help justify the eventual gruesome death of every one of them.

I can still remember Mr. Powell's first comment upon reading.  "Well, Dick, I see you have quite the vivid imagination."

This story was a neverending blood bath.  The Incans stored their gold deep in an underground cavern complete with an Indiana Jones-style booby-trapped labyrinth.  Conquistador after conquistador plunged to his death in disguised pits, dying in agony impaled upon sharp stakes.  The body count would make Rambo look like a sissy.  How Mr. Powell forced himself to type that garbage is a real testimony to his honor.  Obviously he was determined to keep his word. 

And yet, despite my garbage, I discovered I enjoyed writing.  Mr. Powell encouraged me to write, and write I did.  

Mr. Powell did manage to play a trick on me.  He handed me back my first 20 pages with notes.  Mr. Powell wasn't willing to simply be a parrot and type whatever I wrote word for word.  He expected me to have a plot, to tell my story in a logical fashion, and to develop characters.  I hadn't bargained for this.  But I really wanted that book.  Don't ask me why, the idea just caught my fancy.

So I rose to the challenge.  At his request, I went back and rewrote several passages.  That wasn't good enough; now he wanted an outline.  An outline?  Now that was tough, but I put my mind to it and produced a rough outline.

I could not believe how pleased Mr. Powell was to see me respond to his suggestions.  Mr. Powell was thrilled to have a student who sincerely wanted to learn how to write a story.  I developed a wonderful rapport with the man.  I probably came closer to being "teacher's pet" with Mr. Powell than any teacher I ever had.  

Imagine how excited I was to see my long-hand scribble transformed into 100 neatly-typed pages enclosed in a simple binder.  Oh my goodness, I did it!  I wrote a book!

I could not possibly have been more proud of myself.  It wasn't Hemingway, but it wasn't bad for the 6th grade. The point is that Mr. Powell had found a way to inspire an eleven year old kid to write a 100 page story.  Nor did it stop there.  Mr. Powell encouraged me to continue writing.  Mr. Powell thought I could be a writer someday, although he did recommend I find a more pleasant topic. 

I was more than just flattered. I was inspired!  This was quite a compliment for an attention-starved kid like me.  Not surprisingly, I worshipped the ground he walked on.  Mr. Powell had not only encouraged me to write, he took the time to teach me "how" to write.

This is the kind of effect a gifted teacher can have on a student.  To men like Mr. Powell, I was a happy puppy dog.  My teachers never had the slightest trouble with me. 

My teachers may not have realized it, but they played a major role in keeping me from becoming a bad kid.  For nine years, teachers like Mr. Powell kept me on the path.  Getting my education was the shining light that kept me focused despite my litany of problems. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 41
- ED CURRAN

 

My favorite teacher was Ed Curran.  He was more than just a teacher; he was a friend.  Mr. Curran had a strong nurturing side that allowed him to put his arm around me and help me cope with High School Hell.  

Mr. Curran was my Math teacher in the 7th Grade.  Mr. Curran got my attention quickly.  He was a real character, definitely the funniest teacher I had ever met.

Mr. Curran had an interesting way of teaching us how to divide fractions.  To divide fractions, he told us to invert the fraction and multiply.  For some reason, we just weren't getting it.  Mr. Curran shook his head in mock despair.  He said he was going to have to resort to a drastic teaching technique known as 'The Dangerous Orroz Method'. 

We all grinned.  Now what?

He asked Peter, the smallest boy in the class, to come up front.  Mr. Curran ratcheted up the suspense by having Peter get up on the desk.  Then Mr. Curran climbed up on the desk as well.  Our eyes were bulging.  What was Mr. Curran doing??  He said it was dangerous and we were starting to believe him.  So was Peter.

Mr. Curran asked Peter a question.  "So, Peter, how brave are you?  Are you willing to risk your life to teach your classmates how to divide fractions?"

Peter gulped and nodded yes.  In truth, he was so scared he couldn't speak. 

To everyone's surprise - including Peter - Mr. Curran reached down, grabbed Peter by the ankles and flipped him upside down. 

As Mr. Curran dangled poor red-faced Peter upside down by the ankles, Mr. Curran said that the correct way to solve fractions is to flip them over.  Aha, so that's how you do it!  Mr. Curran was the master of slapstick humor.

Did Mr. Curran put Peter down?  No, not yet.  He was waiting... waiting... waiting.

After the laughter and hilarity subsided, some girl raised her hand and asked, "Mr. Curran, why is called the Orroz Method?"

Mr. Curran smiled because someone had finally taken the bait.

"Because when you turn Zorro upside down, he becomes Orroz!"

More guffaws and laughter ensued.  From that point on, we began to call Peter by his new nickname, Orroz.  Peter loved his new-found fame. 

Well, there was a method to this madness.  Mr. Curran's Orroz Method worked like a charm.  Any time I wanted to divide fractions, I mentally flipped Peter Zorro upside down in my mind.  While other St. John's instructors preferred to use a no-nonsense approach, Mr. Curran was something of a genius for his ability to use humor and warmth to communicate with us.  He loved to tease us and get us all excited, but the amazing is that he never lost control of his class.  Mr. Curran was a masterful teacher.  He proved to me a class can be fun and still be effective... or maybe even more effective due to the fun.

One Sunday during the 8th grade, something weird happened to me in my neighborhood and I didn't know what to make of it.  Even though Mr. Curran wasn't currently my teacher, he was the only person I trusted to ask this question to.

My mother and I lived in a comfortable middle class neighborhood about two miles from St. John's, easy riding distance on my bike.  Out of our eleven different homes, the apartment on Hawthorne was my favorite. 

Lanier Junior High was situated next to my apartment in the Montrose area.  One Sunday afternoon I took Terry for a walk.  I was 13 at the time.  I decided to circle Lanier.  To my surprise, in the back of Lanier, there was a huge touch football game being played on Lanier's practice field.  I did an immediate double-take.  I had never seen anything like this before.  There were easily a hundred people there, almost all men. 

As I watched them play, I became confused.  I was certain that something was completely wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was.  While Terry wandered around sniffing everything in sight, I watched the football game from a distance and played a game called "What's Wrong with this Picture?"

For one thing, the players moved very awkwardly.  They didn't move like athletes at all.  I had the impression that some of them had never played football in their lives.

Their demeanor was strange.  For lack of a better word, they were 'silly'.  I noted that every time the ball carrier was down by touch, every player on the field would pile on top and scream with delight.  The sight of a giant human pyramid with 20 or so bodies writhing in happy ecstasy was certainly nothing I had ever seen before.  With their squeals, they sounded more like girls than men. 

I noted there was a huge crowd on both sidelines, but there were hardly any women.  I also noticed the crowd went wild at the end of every play no matter what happened.  Can you imagine cheering for an incomplete pass?  These men did.  They would hug each other and jump up and down.  I had never seen men scream quite like this at football games.  This scene was totally weird.

I can't say I felt threatened, but I didn't feel safe either.  I guess I felt ill at ease, so I refused to budge.  Now I noticed there was something strange about those cheerleaders.  Waving their pom-poms furiously, not only were they the most enthusiastic cheerleaders I had ever seen, but they were also the ugliest.  Big!  Husky!  Hairy legs!  Hairy legs??  I couldn't believe my own eyes. 

In fact, if I didn't know better, um... I decided to move a little closer for a better look.  Yup, those cheerleaders looked like men wearing wigs.  What is going on here?

Now that I was closer, I could also understand the words to their raucous cheers.

"Hi ho, hi ho, c'mon, let's go!
 Hit 'em hi, hit 'em low,
 c'mon fairies, hit 'em in the cherries!"


I was confused.  What kind of cheer was that?

Now that I was closer, a slender girl came over to talk to me.  She was pretty and I smiled.  As if on cue, Terry trotted back to my side.  To my surprise, my border collie growled.  I was stunned.  I had never heard my dog growl at a stranger before.

Well, that stopped the girl in her tracks.  I told her not to worry, Terry had never bitten anyone.  She wasn't convinced so I put my hand on Terry's head.  Terry calmed down, but decided not to leave my side.  Now that was unusual.  Why was he protecting me?  And protecting me from a girl, no less?   Nothing made sense.

Meanwhile the girl turned out to be very friendly.  She said this touch football game was determining the championship between two rival bars in the Montrose area.  She invited me to come sit on the bench and watch the game with her.

Recalling Terry's growl, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was definitely wrong here.  I politely said no thanks, adding it was time I headed home.

A championship football game?  Considering how hard they laughed and giggled in those giant pileups, they didn't look like they were playing to win.

I didn't have a father to ask and I didn't care to ask my mother, but I was still curious.  So the next day at school I tracked down Mr. Curran down in his classroom and told him the story.  Then I asked if he understood what was going on.

Well, of course Mr. Curran turned red when I asked him to explain.  How does one explain a risky subject like homosexuality to a lonely male student alone in a classroom on school premises?  Mr. Curran looked very worried.  After some thought, he decided to help me out.  He said in a low voice that those were men who preferred men over women for companionship. 

But, Mr. Curran, what about that girl who talked to me? 

Mr. Curran said he imagined that was a young boy dressed as a girl.  My eyes bulged.  Really?   She sure looked like a girl.

Mercifully for Mr. Curran, the bell rang.  Saved by the bell!!

This was the first time I had ever been exposed to the gay community in Montrose.  The early Sixties was an era where things were still hush hush and kept in the closet.  However, this odd incident was clear proof that there was indeed a thriving gay community at the time.

I had no idea, but I had put Mr. Curran in a precarious position by asking him to explain.  Mr. Curran took a real chance by answering my question candidly.  That was the sort of topic that could have gotten him in serious trouble if I had naively relayed "what Mr. Curran said" to another student who might have passed it on to a parent or another teacher and so on.  The witch hunt in Salem Village started with a bunch of rumors that spiraled out of control.  Mr. Curran deserved credit for having the courage to explain what had been going on to me.

I was excited to have Mr. Curran again as my English teacher in the 9th grade, my freshman year.  I was surprised to see his teaching approach had changed dramatically.  His new style didn't employ the same goofy slapstick that had made him so popular with us in the 7th grade.  No more picking up kids and turning them upside down.  Instead he used his profound warmth to put us at ease in a way that made classroom discussion an exciting event for us.  There were 15 students in my class.  Using Mr. Curran's version of the Socratic Method, we openly discussed the issues of novels like Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and Tale of Two Cities.

In Mr. Curran's classroom, we developed a rapport that was based on a shared enthusiasm for learning.  All those bright minds eagerly debated the various dilemmas of the stories.  We were encouraged to think for ourselves.   English class was a chance for all of us to wrestle with life's problems and argue about what we would have done in a similar situation.  This class was a perfect example of the kind of education St. John's offered on a regular basis. 

In my Freshman year, Mr. Curran took a personal interest in me.  Mr. Curran was the only person at St. John's to pull me to the side and ask what had happened to my face when I had my acne explosion.  I burst out crying.  Over tears, I told him what had happened and how upset I was.  Mr. Curran put his arm around me and sat with me for several minutes while I cried my eyes out. 

From that point on, Mr. Curran went out of his way to check on my progress.  Seeing how disturbed I was with my struggles, he frequently kept me after class to ask how things were going and to give me a pep talk.  Mr. Curran was one of the few shining lights in the most miserable year of my life.

In the 12th grade, I had Mr. Curran for English again.  Without Mr. Curran, I don't know how I would have ever made it through my Senior year.  He could see how sullen and tense I had become.  Mr. Curran could tell something was wrong with me, so again he offered to help.  At least once a week, Mr. Curran would pull me aside after class just to check on me.

We developed an odd ritual... an eight minute 'how are you doing?' chat.  This was the kind of talk that I wasn't getting at home. 

I had 10 minutes between classes.  We would talk till the last possible moment, then I would use the remaining two minutes to sprint to my next class.  It was a blessing from heaven that I had Mr. Curran as my teacher in my difficult Senior Year. 

One day I think Mr. Curran decided I needed a lot more attention than eight minutes permitted.  So he invited me to meet him for breakfast at a local diner "to talk about my upcoming senior essay".  I noted the tact in his face-saving reason to meet with me.  Mr. Curran had such a gentle way.  I was immediately excited.

"That would be great.  When, Mr. Curran?"

"How about this coming Saturday morning?"

I was immediately disappointed.  "I can't, Mr. Curran.  I have Detention Hall on Saturday morning."

Mr. Curran laughed.  "Not again?  What did you do this time?"

Mr. Curran knew I was no stranger to Penalty Hall.  I had complained about my ongoing struggles with my nemesis Mr. Murphy many times.  Now he covered his mouth with his hand in mock disappointment.  Mr. Curran loved to tease me.  With a grin on his face, he asked me to explain my latest transgression.

"Oh, you-know-who caught me running in the hall again."

"Young man, shame on you. You know you aren't supposed to run in the hall." 

"Well, aren't you one to talk!  It's your fault!  Mr. Murphy caught me leaving your class!"

Mr. Curran grinned.  "Oh really?  Blame it on me?  Please explain."

"Whenever I talk to you, I lose track of time and then I am late for class.  Seriously, that man is a lot smarter than I realized.  Mr. Murphy figured out I like to stay late to talk to you and then I have to run to class or be late.  He even knows what path I will take.  So he hides in a different place along the route.  This is the third time he has caught me running from your class."

Mr. Curran rolled in his eyes in mock despair. "Well, in that case, you have my apology.  I have an idea, let's agree to talk one minute less from now on.  I'm not sure my conscience can rest knowing you are suffering in Penalty Hall on my account.  As for this Saturday, let's try lunch instead of breakfast."

I smiled. "That'll work. It will give me something to look forward to." 

What Mr. Curran didn't know was that I had to beg my manager to let me off work that day.  Even though I needed the money in the worst way, I needed Mr. Curran's encouragement far more.  Mr. Curran had the most wonderful way of cheering me up.  Unfortunately I needed all the help I could get.  I was a perpetual basket case that entire year. 

Not long after our lunch appointment, Mr. Curran invited me to his home for yet another long talk.  Mr. Curran was reaching out to me.  I suspect he sensed I was starting to go off the deep end.  I would visit his home on three different occasions in my Senior year.  Mr. Curran had recently gotten married.  His pretty wife would bring us coffee and then leave us alone in the living room.  The moment she left, I would begin to pour my heart out.

These invitations were always made with the face-saving excuse that we would discuss my class work, but invariably our talks drifted into long conversations about my home life and my problems.  Without question, my senior year was the toughest year of my life.  Without Mr. Curran, I cannot imagine how I would have survived that year.

For my senior year English project, I begged Mr. Curran to let me write about The Graduate.  I had discovered the blockbuster movie was based on a fifty page short story.  Mr. Curran preferred I write about a classic novel like Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice, but he finally relented when he saw how important it was to me.  

When I turned in my eighteen page hand-written thesis, Mr. Curran gulped.  Mr. Curran forced a smile and said, "Um, very impressive, my friend.  You do know, of course, that I only asked for ten pages??"

"Yes, sir, I knew that, but I had a lot to say.  Besides, you tell me all the time how much you like my hand-writing."

I was being sarcastic.  In truth, Mr. Curran teased me all the time about being left-handed because he could barely read my pathetic chicken scrawl.  Now he groaned at the thought of being forced to slog through eighteen pages of teenage angst penned in my hieroglyphic hand-writing .  

Nevertheless, Mr. Curran read my thesis.  Then he asked me to visit him at his house to discuss what I had written.  When I arrived, he asked why this project had been so important to me.  It took us about an hour to get to the bottom of my motivations, but I finally figured it out.  The story was about an underdog kid with no direction in life.  Somehow our hero managed to win the heart of a popular girl who was engaged to a handsome USC fraternity man.  I suddenly realized I had been writing about myself. I was the kid who feared I wasn't good enough or handsome enough to compete with the boys at my school in the courtship game.

A wave of emotion came over me and tears filled my eyes.  Yes, this had been the major theme for me throughout high school... the underdog, the creepy loser kid who wanted desperately to show his best and brightest classmates that he was just as good as they were.

Mr. Curran smiled.  Obviously Mr. Curran had understood this from the start.  He also realized I was such a confused kid that I probably had a blind spot on this.  Sad to say, he was right.  I could not believe I had missed the fact that I had been writing about myself the entire time.

When the tears stopped, Mr. Curran asked me how I intended to remember my difficult high school years.  I thought about it for a moment.  "I think when I grow up, I want to show the world that I used my incredible education to the best of my ability."

Mr. Curran smiled warmly.  "I have a feeling you will do just that." 

As one can gather, I found in Mr. Curran at least a semblance of the father I never had. 

My stories of Mr. Powell and Mr. Curran serve as a powerful example of how skilled my teachers were.  They showed concern for me and I responded in kind. 

Movies such as Goodbye Mr. Chips and Dead Poets Society have been made about the special rapport that can develop between students and gifted teachers.  A teacher can have a profound effect on a student.  If anyone would know, that would be me.

 


CHAPTER TEN: MR. SALLS

 

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