Thursday, January 05, 2006

Long gray line at First Lutheran Church

Bill Adams told me that he finally completed his rope halter for one of Sherri Williams Remmers' miniature Scottish Highlander bulls. Bill is teaching the bull how to lead and planning to show it as a mini at some upcoming livestock competition.

Bill used to teach biology and coach at Sandpoint High School. He also squirreled away the copy paper at the beginning of the year and distributed it among his confidantes whenever the annual warning that "we're running short of paper," was issued at spring faculty meetings.

George Marker informed me he had ruffled some feathers at the high school just before retiring last June. That caused some glares during his last few days, he told me. Somehow, this didn't surprise me. George also lamented that we'd probably be gathering like this more often in the next few years. As an SHS history teacher, George initiated our school's Advanced Placement program where his students excelled.

Rick Gehring suggested that we needed to get together in the next month to talk about this "Hall of Fame" thing. I asked him "what Hall of Fame thing?" to which he replied, "Someone called you, didn't they?" When I told him nobody had called me about any hall of fame, he was interrupted by someone else. So, I still don't know anything about a "hall of fame" thing and will probably stay away from the telephone. Rick taught math at SHS, and his class always beat mine and everybody else's in the annual Christmas food drive competition.

Ray Miller had a raw red spot on the top of his head, suggesting an injury of sorts. Of course, we all saw it because he's a Miller, and the teaching Millers are all short. He joked that it was a battle scar incurred during a dispute with a constituent. He's the mayor of Sandpoint, and it wouldn't be surprising that things might get a little testy in the municipal political circles these days.

As a consumer economics teacher, Ray taught my daughter Ann Elizabeth, who's his daughter Ann Elizabeth's good friend, that if you walk across property continually for a certain number of years, you can claim ownership because you've used it. I always kinda doubted that claim, but if it's true, I own a lot of property out here on Great Northern Road, but I don't want to pay any more city taxes, so I'll choose not to claim it.

Dwight Smith hadn't changed much since I last saw him about five years ago. Since retiring as our school counselor, he and his wife Pat had moved on to Pullman to be near their daughter and Dwight's beloved "Cougs." Must be life around the Cougs is good, cuz about the only difference I noticed with him was no mustache. Dwight and Pat came to Sandpoint when I was a senior in high school. Pat taught P.E. and started the first girls' sports program at SHS back in the 1970s as a volleyball coach.

Speaking of facial and head hair, Terry Iverson has more than made up for his well-documented top-knot impairment and Dwight's absent mustache with his distinctive graybeard. Terry's been retired from his government teaching for several years and runs a thriving home construction business around Sandpoint these days.

Bill, Rick, Ray, Dwight and Terry were just a few of the "graybeards" on hand for yesterday's funeral service at First Lutheran Church, honoring our mutual friend Joy. In addition to remembrances of Joy, I could not help but think of many past events and good memories of longtime friends as members of the SHS family filed past---Byron and Myra Lewis, LeRoy Anderson, Ron and Linda Hunt, B.J. Biddle, Jeanette Schandelmeier, Bob and Ruth Hamilton, Betsy Walker, Judy Helton, Chris Lassen, Shirley Parker, Mike McNulty, Bev Chapin, Johnny Nitcy, Don Albertson, Al Alt, Carol Pietsch, Eva Whitehead, Bill McDonald, Edna Iverson, Ann Gehring, Bill Miller. I'm sure I've forgotten someone, and I'm sure I'll be told----keep me honest, Eva!

There were also the Sodorffs, both in their 80s and both of whom I'd known since childhood. Dick was principal at Sandpoint High School for 20 years, while his wife Claire served as counselor and my junior English teacher. I was at Lincoln School when Dick---then the principal at Washington Elementary---came to show us how to play tether ball.

Later, I'd work for Dick and alongside Claire as one of the SHS staff rookies. We would become longtime close friends. They would attend my wedding and my son's wedding 27 years later. And, Claire would be the first to call me last week to notify me that Joy had died.

Among the mourners was my forever friend, Ray Holt. We attended high school together and have teamed up on many a project over the years. When I was a high-school junior, Ray recruited me to stand in at the last-minute for a major role in the All School Play when Larry Black got laryngitis. The role involved a psychiatrist, and it didn't matter if it was a man or woman. I do remember spouting out the wrong line in one scene which changed the sequence in the play, but only we cast members noticed the mistake.

As SHS teachers, Ray and I teamed up to work on some other dramatic performances with the Drill Team Variety Shows of the '70s. Yesterday, our teamwork paid off once more as Ray passionately read the eulogy I'd coordinated for Joy's service. Ray and I were both surprised and thrilled to learn from the Lutheran minister who presided over the service that a mutual friend and longtime teacher (she taught me at Lincoln School) Frances Fredstrom is still alive, sharp as a tack and independent at what must be close to 90 years old.

The line-up at First Lutheran Church yesterday has definitely turned gray since we had all worked together for decades as a close-knit teaching family, educating the young adults at Sandpoint High. Of course, I must acknowledge a few of us who've found the fountain of youth in bottles of goop. Those guys just don't show up at places like the Hair Hut, though.

With the gray, the goop and the wrinkles, our collective memories have, indeed, become sweeter with the years. The teacher turn-out for bidding adieu to one of our own was a wonderful testament to our longtime and much-loved friend Joy.

I'm sure many of us who came together yesterday almost expected Ol' Mother Superior to rise up in that coffin, glare over her glasses at us, break out laughing and issue one last hurrah.


Word Tosser said...

Took your blog about Joy to Mrs. Shields and she remembered her well. I guess they would attend summer classes in Cda together.
Mrs. Shields is still going strong at 81.

Kathy L. Rainey said...

I remember every one of the teachers you mentioned. I also was a student of Ms. O'Donnell's and at Kinman Business University what I learned came in handy. I have been out of school almost 30 yrs. (l977) and our teachers were the BEST!