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The Gift of Summer?

 

The Gift of Summer?

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Oh, Summer, sweet Summer–

at last, you are here!

I have waited one long Wisconsin winter

for your short visit–

each day of you like a vacation

to be relished and revered.

 

Through your lush, warm days,

I need not bedeck myself in

polar-bear coats, doubled hats,

scarves, gloves, and fake-fur-lined boots

each time my guide dog and I venture outside.

Thank you!  Thank you!

 

Through the tender days of Summer,

I need not shovel my Snow Garden:

I shovel soil

into my flower and herb garden

which soothes my soul

all summer long.

 

Okay, okay, the soil is

a concoction

from a plastic bag;

and the containers are plastic,

painted to look like clay pots.

You see, I live in the heart of

a sidewalk city.

My precious garden may not be

organic;

but daily,

during this season of growth,

I am energized and enriched

by my pink and white geraniums,

Gerbera daisies, lavender,

rosemary, mint, and basil.

I have no purple sage yet this summer;

nevertheless, in my summer garden,

I feel wise and wonderful.

 

On these beautifully bright days

or caressing velvet nights of Summer,

walks with Willow,

my fourth Leader Dog,

wipe away frozen thoughts

of salt-covered sidewalks and streets,

snow stacked at curbs, and surprising ice.

(I do prefer my ice

in other forms,

such as iced tea and ice cream.)

Carefree, Willow and I walk

as if we are at a state park

and enjoy the melodious sounds of songbirds,

occasional whiffs

of lavish lilacs and other fragrant flowers.

 

Oh, Mother Nature,

you could take this season

of Summer–

this superb gift–

and tie it with a bow.

Oh, NO!  No, you can’t!

Someone from the city–

please blame the mayor–

already tied up the season

not with a bow,

but with

CONSTRUCTION!

 

 

Best wishes for a happy and construction-free summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

June 21, 2017, Wednesday

 

Two Poems for Father’s Day

 

NOTE:  While I am preparing an extra post on Wordwalk for Father’s Day, fireworks are bedazzling the sky over the lakefront for Polish Fest in Milwaukee.  Perhaps, the fireworks displays of this weekend also celebrate all the good and special fathers on their holiday.

 

As a writer, my greatest challenge is capturing the essence of my remarkable dad in a poem or memoir.  My second greatest challenge is writing about a holiday, such as Father’s Day, in a fresh and innovative way.  After this first lengthy poem, you will find the very short acrostic poem which I posted for Father’s Day of 2014.

 

 

Stanzas for My Dad on Father’s Day

 

(Dedicated with love to James F. Massa, 1913-1997)

 

 

by his daughter Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Three weeks before Father’s Day,

the commercials begin

to remind me of Father’s Day

and your absence,

not your presence;

yet, after these twenty years of your absence,

I still think of presents

to give to you

for your years of fatherhood.

In 1947,

you first became a father.

From 1950 to 1997,

you were my father–

and still you are my father–

forever father,

who wanted to give me the world,

but your love and devotion were more,

my gifts from you then and always.

 

Now, what presents can I give to you?

Cut flowers in red, white, and blue

upon your tombstone,

engraved with your favorite hummingbird

and the irises of our home.

Can I give you these stanzas,

these words from my heart

for your all too short

fifty years of fatherhood,

84 years of life?

What can I give to you

when I know you still give to me?

 

Gently and melodiously,

the coos of the mourning dove

sing your presence.

I hear you

in this mourning dove.

I have felt you

in a velvet breeze

against my face.

 

That day at the post office,

when I needed an answer from you,

I asked a stranger

what number was on

my waiting-in-line slip.

“Eighty-four,”

the stranger replied.

Quiet tears filled my eyes

because I knew that you–

forever age eighty-four–

had given me an answer,

had found a way

to tell me

in solid black and white

that all will be well.

I keep that numbered slip–

eighty-four–

in the wallet

your grandson made for me.

That slip of post office paper

reminds me

that if I really listen

and am aware,

you,

as ever,

are always there

and here for me:

you still give me your presence

more

than I can give you presents

of everlasting gratitude

in these three words:

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

The Tender of Our Family Tree: 

 

Honoring My Dad on Father’s Day

 

(An Acrostic Poem in Loving memory of James F. Massa, 1913-1997)

 

by his daughter Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

NOTE:  Joining together the initial letter of each line of this very short poem spells the word “father.”

 

 

Forever Father, you planted  a beautiful family tree–

 

Always nurturing, always there, always trusty.

 

Tender-hearted Dad, are you looking down, watching me?

 

Hat ever-present (your trademark), slightly askew–

 

Everlasting memories bring your smile and you back to me.

 

Refresh, dear Dad, our family tree on your day–each Father’s Day–and always.

 

POST-SCRIPT:  On this June 18, 2017, my Uncle Jules, youngest of my dad’s three brothers, will celebrate not only Father’s Day with his family in California, but will also celebrate his 91st birthday.  Best wishes on your special birthday, Uncle Jules!

 

God bless all the fathers on our family tree and your family tree, also!

 

Wishing my Wordwalk readers a blessed and Happy Fathers’ Day,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

June 18, 2017, Sunday

 

Happy Flag Day, 2017!

 

Happy Flag Day, 2017!

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

In the United States, Americans celebrated the first Flag Day on June 14, 1877–one hundred and forty years ago today.  June 14 was designated as Flag Day because on this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution for the design and colors of the first flag of the United States.  In the late 19th century, teachers used Flag Day to teach their students more about history.  Wisconsinite Bernard J. Cigrand, a teacher (later a dentist, writer, public speaker who delivered 2188 speeches about patriotism and the flag), went a step further:  for approximately sixty years, he lobbied Congress to make Flag Day an official observance.  The patriotic dream of Mr. Cigrand, who became known as the “Father of Flag Day,” did not materialize until  1916, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that June 14 shall be National Flag Day.  Finally, in 1949, Congress made National Flag Day an official observance.

 

Since 1911, Flag Day has been celebrated annually at the Betsy Ross House, the birthplace of the American flag.  Over a quarter of a million people visit this historic home each year.  In Philadelphia, only the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall welcome more visitors.  Actually, Betsy Ross and her husband John never owned this three-and-a half story home (with an attic):  they rented the six-room house from 1773 through 1786.  Besides living in the Georgian-style house (built circa 1740), the Rosses had their upholstery business in the house. At the following website, you can take a virtual tour of the Betsy Ross Home.

 

http://www.betsyrosshouse.org

 

Around 1980, my parents and I walked to the Betsy Ross House from our hotel in Philadelphia and took a tour of the historic home most associated with the seamstress of the first flag of the United States.  The row houses that soared upward, with minimal space on each floor, intrigued me.

 

Many of my school days in the 1950s began with our teacher leading all students in the classroom with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Throughout my grade school and high school years, every classroom I entered included a flag of the United States of America.

 

At the Blanford (Indiana) Post Office, where my mother was postmaster for twenty-eight-and-a-half years, a flagpole stood at the northwest corner of the lot.  Many times, after the end of a school day, my friend Michael and I were eager to have the opportunity to take down the flag, fold it as I had learned in Girl Scouts, and hand the flag to my mother, the postmaster.  Sometimes, when I did not go to the post office after school, Michael did the honor of taking down the flag.

 

Sometime in the 1980s, my parents, Retha (friend and postmaster of St. Bernice, Indiana), and I were among a sellout audience at North Vermillion High School to see singer and musician Lee Greenwood.  How patriotic and memorable when students from the North Vermillion High School Marching Band paraded through the auditorium with American flags while Lee Greenwood sang his most famous song “God Bless the USA”!

 

Although all four of my grandparents came to the United States from Northern Italy in the early 1900s, all four became and were proud to be US citizens.  My paternal grandfather’s favorite song was “God Bless America,” sung by Kate Smith.

 

For over a decade, I have displayed in my large front window of my townhouse, three American flags–one for each of my relatives who are in the military (Army, Navy, and Air Force).  Additionally, on the opposite side of my house, I display an American flag in my kitchen window.  Last evening, my aunt told me that at her home in Minnesota, she has four flags–one for each of her brothers (my dad and three uncles) who served in Europe during World War II.

 

The USA flag which I most fondly remember is the one on the flagpole in the northeast corner of our yard at our Blanford home.  When I was eleven or twelve years old, my dad and I went to Harris Food Store in Clinton, Indiana, and purchased a two-foot tall Colorado Blue Spruce and two evergreen trees.  We planted the evergreens on the north side of that corner of our yard; then, we planted the Colorado Blue Spruce on the east side–just south of the sweet peas that climbed the fence with their rose-colored blooms.  The Blue Spruce grew into a spectacular tree and made a beautiful setting for our flagpole with its USA flag.  So clearly, I can picture in my mind a photograph of that flag against a Hoosier blue sky and flanked by the Colorado Blue Spruce which eventually grew even taller than the flagpole.

 

The US flag that tugs at my heart each time that I touch it is the tri-folded flag that was draped over my dad’s coffin in December of 1997.  I cherish this flag.

 

I have a collection of flag pins which I wear on the lapels of blazers and jackets.  Keeping with tradition, I will be wearing red, white, and blue along with one of these pins today–Flag Day, 2017.

 

Happy Flag Day!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

POST-SCRIPT:  This weekend, I will post an extra piece for Father’s Day.

Flag Day is also the fourth birthday of my great-niece Lanie, the birthday of cousin Kenny in California, birthday of cousin Andrea in Missouri, and wedding anniversary of cousins Annie and Paco in Mexico.  Happy celebrations to all!

 

June 14, 2017, Wednesday

 

Remembering Two Special Days in June

 

Remembering Two Special Days in June and Two Extraordinary Leader Dogs

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

“You are getting a female Black Lab, and her name is Willow,” announced Christie, my guide dog/mobility instructor (GDMI), one year ago this morning, at about 9:07 (Eastern Time).

 

“Oh, how pretty!” I responded with tears of joy squeezing my vocal cords.

 

“It’s very pretty, and she’s just as pretty as her name,” my–our–trainer continued.

 

“A-a-ah.”

 

Fortunately, I audio-recorded this awesome moment so that I can cherish this happy time of being given my fourth Leader Dog and so that I can more exactly share the exciting moment with you.

 

Before Christie left my dorm room at Leader Dog School to get Willow, the instructor added:  “I love that name; and it fits her because she’s graceful and gentle and beautiful like a willow tree.  Okay, I’ll go get her and be right back.”

 

After having endured the seemingly terribly long period of waiting for my fourth Leader Dog–March 16, 2016 to June 7, 2016–I could quite easily wait a few more minutes.

 

My heart had been so broken when my Zoe, my third Leader Dog, passed away extremely suddenly and unexpectedly on the sixteenth of March; however, all of those broken pieces of my heart fluttered happily in anticipation  of finally meeting my fourth guide dog.  When Christie returned to my room and told me to call “my dog,” I was so excited that I forgot to re-activate the audio-recorder.  Despite my not recalling the exact words that transpired, I know that I did call Willow and my fourth Leader Dog came to me like a long-lost friend–or one mighty happy dog of two-and-a-half years.  Thus, with much love and gratitude, I began a new chapter in my life with intelligent, devoted, delightful, and endearing dogs.

 

As those early days, first weeks, and twelve months have passed with our getting to know each other and learning to work together, I still miss my practically perfect Zoe.  Yesterday, Willow and I marked the anniversary of my receiving Zoe on June 6, 2009, by walking 54 blocks.

 

Some coincidences of life are especially intriguing:  I think of my grandfather clock, my gift to my parents on their 40th wedding anniversary.  I love this family heirloom; but shortly before Zoe’s passing, the grandfather clock stopped working.  I could not re-start the melodious clock.  With Zoe’s passing, my going to Michigan for training with Willow at Leader Dogs for the Blind, my writing and having published my book The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season to honor Zoe’s memory, and a variety of other happenings–I never called about having the clock repaired until recently.  Then, I realized that the appointment for the visit of the clock repairman was to be June 6–Zoe’s special day.  Tom T. said that all of the workings of the clock were in very good shape; he thought the only problem was that the timing mechanism was off and was preventing the pendulum from working.  After over a year of no chimes, no marking of each hour–my grandfather clock began ticking and chiming again yesterday–I think, to mark the anniversary of my receiving Zoe.  Late last night, I realized that Willow was hearing the clock for the first time:  she did not mind the quarter hour reminders of passing time.  Together, Willow and I are moving forward.

 

Through the saddest of times and the happiest of times, with or without a working grandfather clock, time does pass.  The passing time does not make me less grateful, but ever more grateful to Leader Dogs for the Blind (Rochester, Michigan), all the trainers and support staff, as well as those who generously donate to Leader Dogs for the Blind for making possible my four amazing Leader Dogs:  Keller, a Golden Retriever (March 21, 1990); Heather, a Yellow Lab (April 15, 1998); Zoe, a Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix (June 6, 2009); and Willow, a British Black Lab (June 7, 2016).  (While I know that many readers know the names of my guide dogs, their breeds, and the years when they came into my life, I repeat this information for new readers of Wordwalk and for myself as a litany of love for my Leader Dogs.)  Daily, I highly respect and am enormously grateful for all that my guide dogs have made possible and continue to make possible in my life.

 

Oh, what a beautiful day this has been in Milwaukee to celebrate this milestone with long walks with my precious Willow!  55 glorious blocks of independent walking for us today!

 

Wishing you many summer blessings and a happy June,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

June 7, 2017, Wednesday

 

POST-SCRIPT:  I am still trying to learn and fine-tune all the aspects of the new speech software which I am using.  While I have learned much, I know I have much more to comprehend and put into practice.

 

Commencement Address: More for the Graduate

 

NOTE:  Each year around this time, we read or hear on both the local and national news names of famous people who will deliver commencement addresses in our area and throughout the United States.  Then, eventually, I find myself enjoying a news segment featuring highlights of memorable graduation speeches of this season of turning tassels.  Although I never gave a speech to graduates–on the final class meeting of each of the courses which I taught, I, from my classroom podium, did share with my students a brief farewell address with notes of “good luck” and “best wishes.”

 

The following essay (first posted on my Wordwalk blog on May 20, 2015) is too long for a Hallmark card, too short for a chapbook–but the speech below is my commencement address, never delivered.  Fortunately, now, through my Wordwalk blog, I can share my thoughts about graduation from my Wordwalk podium.

 

 

After the Tassel Is Turned–A Report Card for the Graduate

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

Are you ready for a another report card?  Are you ready for a report card that you can carry in your wallet, access through your phone, or find in a new and mysterious way which one of you may someday invent?  No matter what the medium is, I, as a former and forever teacher, am very comfortable with giving you the graduation gift of a report card for life–life after you turn your tassel to the other side.

 

You never wanted an “F” on any prior report card; however, on the report card which I am giving you today, you will find one “F.”  If you are sitting here, you are not a failure–you are a winner; and I hope that you have learned the lesson of the “Fairness Doctrine.”  No, I am not speaking of the “Fairness Doctrine,” established in 1949 and abolished in 1987 by the Federal Communications Commission.  I am referring to life’s most important lesson.  Life is not fair.  If you have learned this lesson and keep it with you for reference for the years to come, coping with life’s challenges will be so much easier.  While that “F” on this report card indicates that life is not fair, what can you do?  As soon as you turn your tassel, turn to all of those around you and try to treat all of them fairly.  As you proceed with your career, family, and other interests–try your best to treat co-workers, family members, friends, and strangers fairly.

 

Next, on this report card are two “C” marks.  One “C” is for the second most important lesson which I hope you have learned and will carry with you.  All of life is change.  When change is good and positive, we love change.  When change is hairy, hard, or heartbreaking–we could extremely dislike or even hate it.  However, I encourage you to embrace change–change of whatever kind–because change is life.  Coping with the good changes will be easy; coping with the challenging changes will make you the unbittered person whom you must want to be

 

The second “C” is for carousel.  When you are at the airport of life,  any best-forgotten or best-left-behind baggage that is twirling around the carousel at baggage claim is not necessarily yours to take–even if your name is on it.  Some baggage of life, you must just leave behind at the carousel.  Walk on; catch a new cab or take a future flight.

 

In the fourth and fifth spots on your report card for life are two “B” marks.  Since I have been a teacher of English, please allow me to say that the initial “B” is for books.  As you leave these ivy-covered buildings and the library where you have spent so much time, do not close the book on learning.  Continue to delve into a variety of books.  Be a lifelong learner.  Read to the little children who are around you now; read to those little ones who will come into your future.  Help others to learn to read.  Read to those who, for whatever reason, cannot read for themselves.  Instead of collecting books on bookshelves, share your books and the gift of reading.  Additionally, buy “nothing” books–books with blank pages; then, at least once a month, write the highlights of your life, your family members’ lives, as well as the news of your community and your country in these books.  Why do I encourage you to write these few sentences each month of the rest of your life?  You will not remember all that you would like to remember, and you may not remember the date nor the year when something important happens.  Okay, okay–if you do not handwrite these notes of your life into a “nothing” book, enter the memorable information into the computer device of your choice.  Decades from now, you will be glad that you abided by the “B” on your graduation report card.  This mark comes with one of those “graduation guarantees.”

 

Next, for all of you who have taken math classes, I need you to count something.  The second “B” is for blessings.  Today  and each day for the rest of your precious life, count your blessings.  If you count your blessings each day, you will not be able to feel sorry for yourself.  You will be able to smile at each sunrise and feel satisfied at each sunset during the seasons of your life.  With or without a ceremony, such as today’s, you will be able to celebrate your blessings.

 

Finally, for all of you who have collected “A” grades and all of you who wish you had collected more of them throughout the past few years, I think you will be happy to find one “A” on your report card for life.  This final mark of “A” is for an altitude of gratitude.  I hope that you will find this place where you can feel at home, feel community, feel challenged and comforted–a place where you can grow to your height and where you can give back.  I hope that you find your altitude of gratitude–the place where you should be to become the best you can be.

 

Congratulations to you and to all who helped you to arrive here on your graduation day!  Best wishes and good luck in finding your altitude of gratitude!

 

 

Enjoy the special ceremonies and celebrations of life!

Alice and Willow (who thinks your report card should include a “D” for dog)

 

POST-SCRIPT:  Reading over this essay again today even encouraged me–the writer–as I am in the midst of taking a big “computer step.”  Since I am transitioning to a different speech software program, I have needed some of my own encouragement expressed in this week’s repeat post.  I hope that you also have found the above words encouraging on this final day of May.  Additionally, you are welcome to share this piece or last week’s poem with a special graduate whom you know will be turning the tassel during this year’s graduation season.

 

If all my computer changes work well, I will post something new for you on Wordwalk next Wednesday.  Have a good week!

 

May 31, 2017, Wednesday

 

For the Graduate

 

A Diplomatic Wish for the Graduate:

 

Be a Leader, not a Star

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

As you stand quietly and confidently in your cap and gown,

I ask you to think before you toss that tassel to the other side.

Beneath the cooling shadow of the mortar board,

have you smiled with grace and gratitude?

If, in the wind, the tassel tickles your face,

will you laugh or just broaden your smile

as you take your place?

No matter how hard the wind blows,

stand tall–

I want a photo of this moment.

Click.  Now, you can move forward.

Can’t you?

 

Waiting, waiting, midst all the graduates,

are you running in place?

Are you glancing back

or looking ahead at your life?

I wonder.

Is that a tear on your face?

Is it a tear for all that you will miss

or a tear of trepidation for what may lie ahead?

Is what I see upon your face

not a tear, but a bead of sweat

for all the work you have done

and all the work that is before you?

 

Your hand wipes your face:

once again, you smile.

Momentarily, I know you are fine

and hope you will be for a long time.

 

Have you exchanged a word with the graduate at your right side?

Have you exchanged a thought with the graduate at your left?

You all will go in so many different directions

after sharing these four years,

this graduation day,

this moment.

 

As I watch you process into the arena,

I know that you are in a class

of leaders and stars–

not just leaders and followers.

I hope you realize

that while some stars are not leaders,

sound leaders will always shine.

 

Stars may not be diplomatic,

may not be kind nor caring;

but leaders lead with wisdom,

understanding, gratitude, and grace.

While I am certain

you sometimes will be a devoted follower,

I hope that you will be a leader

among followers.

I hope that in your chosen realms,

you will be a leader

who does not need to be a star.

 

However many stages lie ahead of you,

be assured that

your happiness, kindness, and success

may always lead

back to my smiling heart.

 

Congratulations to the graduate

you are today

and to the leader

you will be

throughout your blessed tomorrows!

 

 

Our best wishes to all graduates and their families,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

May 24, 2017, Wednesday

 

Tribute to High School Teachers

 

A Tribute to My High School Teachers:

 

Clinton High School (1964-1968) in Clinton, Indiana

 

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

 

 

While my favorite television program Jeopardy is in the midst of honoring teachers through its Teacher Tournament and after my blog post last week to honor some superior teachers from my grade-school days, I am turning to the teachers of Clinton High School (Clinton, Indiana) during my high school years of 1964 through 1968.  In my Wordwalk blog post of May 10, I acknowledged grade-school teachers in chronological order; however, for this tribute, I will give my thanks to teachers by a recollection of building location and departments.  Once again, I am not presenting a “Top Ten List of Teachers,” but am mentioning some outstanding teachers while I fully realize that I learned from each teacher in whose class I sat in the old wooden “row” desks that had such style and character.

 

Speaking of those desks prompts me to recall the block on which stood the five buildings of our high school (with an enrollment of approximately four hundred students, 104 graduates in my Class of ’68).  Of course, all of the buildings were brick.  The three-story Senior High Building graced the northwest corner of the large block; and the Junior High Building, also three stories, faced Mulberry Street at the northeast corner of the block.  Between these two buildings was the firehouse for the City of Clinton.  Behind the firehouse was the newest of the buildings–the Multi-purpose Building which was primarily used as our cafeteria.  A covered walkway connected the Senior High Building, Junior High Building, and the Multi-purpose Building.  Behind the Senior High Building and to the west of the Multi-purpose Building was the Gymnasium which in addition to a basketball court and bleachers, had a large stage, upstairs classroom for health class, and a basement for home economics and shop classes, as well as the band room and locker rooms.  Finally, on the southeast corner of the block, facing Blackman Street, stood the Administration Building which besides offices, had classrooms on the second and third stories.  Of these five buildings between Third Street on the east and Fourth Street on the west, only the Gymnasium and Multi-Purpose Building are still standing and being used.

 

All who know me certainly know that I am not a math person; however, I will begin in the math department of Clinton High School.  After descending the east stairwell of the Senior High Building, the first classroom on the right in the lower level was the math classroom of Mr. Theodore (“Ted”) Nolan.  Even more than freshman algebra, what I learned from Mr. Nolan was an extraordinary teaching method.  He had a most impressive way of not only welcoming each student, but also making each student feel important.  In his classroom, there were not just a couple of star students:  the entire classroom was a constellation.  I am certain that some students smiled and flourished only in his classroom.  When I was teaching, I tried to follow Mr. Nolan’s example and welcome each student as he or she entered my classroom each day.  Whenever I was challenged by a group of students in a class, I often wondered what I could do to make these students feel special and learn more from my class:  I truly wondered, “What would Mr. Nolan do?”  Even as a freshman in high school, I marveled at his classroom techniques.  How his manner of teaching did inspire me!  I wish I had been able to thank him years ago.

 

In the second room down from Mr. Nolan’s room was the math classroom of Mrs. (Susan) Lapworth, who was my teacher for geometry (sophomore year) and “College Algebra” (junior year).  While I have forgotten way too much geometry and algebra, I will never forget how, without ever asking me a question about my eye condition, Mrs. Lapworth very unobtrusively handed me each quiz written in her beautiful cursive handwriting because this observant teacher realized that I, even from sitting in a front seat, could not see the quiz questions which she wrote on the chalkboard.  During my sophomore year when an ophthalmologist told me for the first time that I was “legally blind,” I never thought, nor did my parents, of telling my teachers.  Eventually only the school nurse Miss Butts knew of my diagnosis of macular degeneration (juvenile onset); however, to my knowledge, the school nurse never informed my teachers.  Of course, the small accommodation which Mrs. Lapworth made was well before the days of the word “accommodation” becoming prevalent in education.  Most assuredly, what my geometry teacher did for me helped me to receive knowledge and grades that made me later eligible for National Honor Society because I had no plans to tell her that I could not see the quizzes written on the chalkboard.  Yes, I should have also thanked Mrs. Lapworth decades ago.

 

Across the hall from Mrs. Lapworth’s room was the typing room where, the summer of 1966, I learned touch-typing from Mrs. (Joan) Dunlap.  While we still pounded away on large, standard typewriters, some of the typewriters in the classroom were, gratefully, electric.  With all the papers which I wrote during the remainder of my secondary, undergraduate, and post-graduate education, that typing class was vitally important and appreciated then and now.

 

Moving from the lower level to the second floor of the Senior High Building, I remember the huge Study Hall which had a very small stage and a piano in the front of the room.  Expanding the entire length of the south half of the second floor, the Study Hall must have contained at least twelve rows of thirty or more of the “row” desks.  Tall windows lined the south and east walls; of course, the floor was hardwood.  Entering and exiting the Study Hall was through two large doorways on the north side.  Mrs. Dunlap, a business teacher, and Mr. Kyle, who was a shop teacher and was very active in the VFW and Lions Club, selected me as one of the students to take attendance in their large study-hall period.  Not only did I enjoy this task, but I benefited by their trust and confidence in my being able to do this task quickly and efficiently.  Another year or two, I was pleased to be chosen to work in the Counselors’ Office.  Picking up attendance slips outside classroom doors daily or delivering messages occasionally were among my minimal duties; but I was pleased to do this work for Mr. (Robert) Burton, one of our counselors.

 

To the west of the Counselors’ Office (across the hall from the Study Hall) was the classroom of Mr. (Max) Chambers.  Although I learned a fair amount about sociology, what I think Mr. Chambers most taught was how to study.  Study skills which I learned from him served me well through many subsequent years of my education and helped me to realize the importance of my teaching others how to study.

 

East of the Principal’s Office and across from the Study Hall was the foreign language room.  During my first two years of high school, I studied French with Mrs. (Marilyn) Hawkins.  I relished the variety of this class and also enjoyed its creative aspects (like making menus in French).  In this room, during my senior year, I was delighted to take a Spanish class with Mrs. (Vera) Shew.  With no foreign language lab and with only minimal teaching materials, these teachers instilled in me a love for learning languages.  As a result of this Spanish class, I continued to study Spanish throughout undergraduate and graduate school at Indiana State University.

 

During my years at Clinton High School, the Junior High Building, despite its name, was for secondary students (grades nine through twelve), as were all the other buildings which I have mentioned.  In the Junior High Building on the second floor was the large library, expanding the entire south side of the second level.  Miss (Florence) Salaroglio, who had been my mother’s French teacher, was the full-time librarian.  Not only did I enjoy working in the library for Miss Salaroglio, but I was thrilled when she selected my friend Nancy Rendaci and me to attend a week-long summer conference for student librarians on the campus of Purdue University.  One of the activities of this special week was a discussion of the book Fahrenheit 451.  Staying on a large university campus for a week was great preparation for what lay ahead in only one year.  Miss Salaroglio was one of the teachers whom I was able to appropriately thank because she invited Nancy and me to her home for a visit one afternoon to share what we had learned at the conference before senior year.

 

Certainly, I was blessed with English teachers who gave me a strong foundation in grammar, punctuation, writing, and literature.  I am especially grateful to Mrs. Gerrish (freshman homeroom and English teacher), Mrs. (Nancy Pointer who later taught in the classroom of Mrs. Gerrish (northwest corner of the lower level of the Junior High Building), as well as Mrs. (Harriet) Baldwin who was my English teacher for one year  and then again for senior English and British Literature in her classroom in the northeast corner of the lower level of the Junior High Building.  In the northwest classroom of the top floor of the Administration Building, I certainly remember the energetic teaching of English by Mrs. (Naomi) Craig.

 

During my junior year (1966-1967), my high school offered journalism as a course for the first time.  Since I was very interested in newspapers and newspaper writing, I was delighted to have this opportunity to take journalism with Mrs. (Sharon) Hussong, a new and young teacher.  The green and white cover of our textbook prominently displayed the title Press Time.  Undoubtedly, this was my favorite textbook.  I only regretted that the course was merely one year.  While I could not take a second part of the course of journalism, I was able to continue working on the school newspaper for a fourth year.  By the time of my senior year, the newspaper staff acquired the office between the library and the new classroom of Mrs. Hussong in the Junior High Building.  Our staff room had counter space, office desks and chairs, and even an IBM Selectric typewriter.  What a wonderful opportunity to work in this room on an offset newspaper production for our high school!  Through Mrs. Hussong’s journalism class and the newspaper staff (for which she was advisor), so many worthwhile opportunities and experiences developed, including attending the Indiana High School Press Association Convention and becoming a charter member of our high school’s chapter of the Quill and Scroll Society (national honorary organization for high school journalists).  My love of working on the school newspaper led to my studying journalism at Indiana State University.  I have always wanted to tell Mrs. Hussong how far that journalism course took me on a wonderful life’s path of writing.  I wish I could give her a copy of my book and a bouquet of thanks for all that she encouraged me and gave to me.

 

In May of 1968, when I crossed the stage of the CHS Gymnasium and was handed my diploma, I had my parents and many teachers to thank.  I thank them even more today.

 

 

With thanks to all of our teachers of Clinton High School,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

 

May 17, 2017, Wednesday, the 125th anniversary of the birth of my paternal grandmother Elizabeth (Liza) Massa