Thursday, October 19, 2017

Years of My Life

A Journey from 1944 to … Now


1971–72 School Year

This year began—yes, Number Five—
In my short class career.
I felt a lot more confident—
With far much less to fear.

Don’t get me wrong—I made mistakes—
I made them every class.
I still went home most every night
And sighed: “You stupid ass!

“Why did you say that? Why that move?
You made some kids feel bad.
They are, you surely recognize,
The best allies you’ve had!”

But I was having lots of fun—
The clubs, the classes, plays.
And my wee life was now so full—
So full in many ways.

In 1971—the fall—
We got the welcome news:
We would be parents in July!
Oh, such news cures the blues!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Years of My Life

A Journey from 1944 to … Now


1970-71 Academic Year

Well, I turned twenty-six this year—
Oh, I was really wise (I thought)—
Just look at all I’ve learned and taught!
Oh surely I can have no peer!

About that? I was really right.
I had, instead, superiors
In every way: exteriors,
Interiors. I wasn’t bright—

Well, not so bright as I believed.
Oh youth! I guess I’ll blame you now—
For you’re the one (some way, somehow)
That made me so, well, self-deceived.

But still I loved my life at school—
My life in classes that I took—
I wrote each paper, read each book,
And knew—yes, knew—I'd be no fool!

This was year five of my career—
I sponsored clubs, directed plays,
And found so many different ways
That I suppressed my primal fear

Of failure.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Years of My Life

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1969-70 School Year

“The married man!”—that is a line
From Shakespeare’s Much Ado.*
And I was feeling so amazed:
My dull old life was through!

And both of us were back in school—
Though I was just part-time
(Through nights and summers)—on we went—
An ever-upward climb.

I still was loving middle school—
That would not go away.
In fact, I love it as I sit
Right here, right now, today!

We had a tiny place in Kent**
But close to campus sites—
We walked to evening classes—then
Returned in darkest nights.

It was, in ways, a magic time—
Yes, all of it a thrill.
And I confess to all of you:
It has that magic … still.

*Said of the confirmed bachelor (and now a groom), Benedick, near the very end by Don Pedro: “How dost thou, Benedick the married man?” (5.4).
**323 College Court; Kent, Ohio (still standing!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Years of My Life

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1968–69 School Year

The year that I turned twenty-four,
A year that would transform my life.
For in that summer hopes would soar—
I’d meet the one who’d be my wife.

Yes, summer school at KSU—
Continuing my master’s work—
I met a special classmate who
Soon made my heart go, well, berserk.

Her name was Joyce; she was so bright,
So sweet, and (okay) beautiful
That I knew I was purely right
To fall for her (so dutiful

Was I—to listen to my heart,
To take a chance again on love,
To play that well known courtship part,
A part I knew so little of).

The class on Emerson, Thoreau
Flew by that Summer of the Heart,
That summer I would learn—no, know
That I could never be apart

From Joyce
Again.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Years of My Life

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1967–68 School Year

In June this year*—a school play,
The first one that I did direct.
I wrote it with some kids—the way
I’d learn to love (as you suspect).

My second year of teaching was
A little better than the first—
Which wasn’t all that hard because
My first year was among the worst.

Oh, not because of students—no!
I learned to love them very fast.
But I found out I didn’t know
So very much … I was aghast.

And I was still alone that year—
The year that I’d turn twenty-three.
I started to endure the fear
That there was no one “right” for me.

I missed my parents—brothers, too.
I lived alone—and funds were low.
But I had many things to do—
Like watching piles of homework grow!

I lived in Twinsburg for a while—
And then to Stow for not too long.
And finally … Aurora (smile!),
I thought I’d fit—I wasn’t  wrong.

*June 1967, at the end of my first year.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Years of My Life, 1965-66 School Year

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1966–67 School Year

I got a job! A middle school!
(A teacher told me, “Just a fool
Would teach there.”) Well, it seems that I
As “fool” would surely qualify.

Aurora Middle School—the place
Where I would try to make the case
That this profession was for me—
That I belonged, well, certainly.

Those seventh graders I first taught
When I was turning twenty-two (and not
The most experienced they’d meet
In classrooms) were, well, mostly sweet—

And so it wasn’t very long
When I was loving it—though wrong
Things I would often do and say—
This happened often … every day?

But I was grateful for the chance
To learn these steps in this new dance.
Some students whom I taught this way
Are Facebook friends right now—today!*

*Thank goodness for their poor memories!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Years of My Life, 1965

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1965

And so my senior year—at last!
(So much had gone so very fast.)

My major—English—now complete.
(Not really such an easy feat.)

And student teaching lay head—
And I’ll confess I felt some dread.

Could I survive it? And succeed?
Yes, I was frightened, I concede.

To West Geauga High School in
The winter term I went. I’d been

Afraid, right from the very start.
But those young kids? Straight to my heart.

I loved those classes—tried my best—
And passed this rough initial test.

But now arrived another fear:
What would I find to do next year?

In this my parents had a stake:
They’d taken teaching jobs at Drake.*

The house where I had grown was sold.
Would I be out there in the cold?

I got accepted—Kansas, Yo.
But realized I could not go:

No scholarship, financial aid—
So here is where I sighed. And stayed.

Two interviews—that's all I had.**
And things were looking pretty bad ...


*Drake University; Des Moines, Iowa
**Garrettsville and Aurora—both nearby. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Years of My Life, 1964

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1964

At Hiram College. Junior year.
An English major now.
I’d found the place where I should be—
I knew it well—somehow.

I loaded up with classes—each
Required a lot of books.
And no more did I given them just
Swift superficial looks.

And I was writing papers like
A madman (never gripe!),
And I was grateful (high school class!)
That I had learned to type.

I still was not at all so sure
About what happened next—
To teaching? Or to grad school? Which
To do? Oh, I was vexed!

But I then figured (wrong again!)
That I had lots of time.
No use in planning—oh, not yet!
The time is not yet prime!

And so I reeled through junior year—
Both happy and deceived.
I thought I knew so very much—
Not knew but just believed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1963

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1963.

I turned nineteen in ’63—
It was a puzzling year for me.
I tried to figure what I’d be
Later on.

November ’63—amazed:
Some Dallas, Texas, gunfire blazed—
Our President is dead? All dazed.
America.

I changed my major—once, then twice.
An academic roll of dice!
I wasn’t sure what would suffice
For my career.

I even tried philosophy—
But didn’t take too long to see
That I had made (my profs agree)
A Big Mistake.

So English then it soon became—
And things have ever been the same
Since I at last conceived this game
Was meant for me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1962

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1962.

The summer. 1962.
My parents gave a task to do:
See—I’d take English 101
And have a bit of summer "fun."

“A sort of head start,” so they said.
“It’s time, you know, to use your head.”
And so I took that freshman class
With Prof. McKinley—hoped I’d pass.

And in that college classa B,
And I was kind of proud of me:
I’d written essays, read some stuff—
And none of it was merely fluff!

The year rolled on—I did okay.
But basketball just … went away.
I learned much later than I should
That I was really not that good.

I found some friends—some still remain.
(At times I was a bit insane.)
And then my heart got bruised and bumped:
When Spring Break came—well, I got dumped.

That high-school romance ended—boom!
Inhaled my first foul breath of Doom.
On the horizon—sophomore year.
More mess-ups lay, oh, very near.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1961

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1961

When 1961 began,
It was my senior year.
The end of public school—at last!
Oh, yes, the end was near.

My grades were better—all because
I had dropped chemistry.
I took advanced mathematics then—
A better fit for me.

Or so I thought until the class
Was soon beyond my scope.
And I was realizing then:
In math am I a dope!*

But—I did two plays—played basketball
(Earned all-star status too)—
And baseball was a thrill that spring—
There was so much to do.

But soon—all over. School was out.
Bye, Husky white and red.
I looked along a different trail,
Where college lay ahead.

*Yes.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1960

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1960

Well, 1960—quite a year—
The year that JFK emerged
To win the White House (cost him dear),
The year some loves of mine converged.

My junior year of high school! Wow!
(This life is going way too fast.)
I was still getting by, somehow—
But my weak ways just couldn’t last.

Mr. Brunelle—a teacher—great—
Was having an effect on me,
But I was still a little late
At recognizing destiny.

For in my realm, see, sports were king—
Each basketball and baseball game
To me meant, well, just everything.
I still believed in certain fame.

My “love life” had become a mess—
It was, of course, all due to me—
But I will leave you here to guess
About what caused this “tragedy.”

And college lay not far ahead—
But seemed to be forever then.
And I still didn’t use my head
To be what I well could have been.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Years of My Life, 1959

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1959

This was the year I turned fifteen—
A most amazing age:
Yes, I was certain, at fifteen,
That I was, well, a sage.

I had the wisdom of the years—
Experience to burn.
I couldn’t think of very much
That I had yet to learn.

For I had basketball and plays
And band and choir and such,
And homework didn’t bother me:
Just didn’t do that much.

To college went my older bro—
Where he would once more shine,
But shining in the classroom? It
Was not a goal of mine.

Instead, for me, the NBA!
The Major Leagues, as well!
And Halls of Fame? Well, certainly.
(Already, I could tell.)

But in the bushes, lurking there,
Were Fear and brother Doubt:
At times I was too well aware
My future wasn’t … stout.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Years of My Life, 1958

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1958

In the fall of the year it was high school—at last!
I took Latin and algebra—then I was cast
In a musical play we were doing that year.
The Mikado—a memory I now hold so dear.

My voice now had settled—a bit (so it seemed)—
Sure, I squeaked now and then, but my parents just beamed
When I strode on that stage, and I sang for the crowd.
(I’m so glad there’s no tape—it should not be allowed!)

I played basketball, baseball—to dances I went.
And my puny allowance I so quickly spent.
But now I was fourteen—and so wise in the ways
Of adulthood (but really was lost in a maze).

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Years of My Life, 1957

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1957

Fifty-seven—my grade now was finally eight.
And I now was a teen—is there something more great?
I was playing some basketball, skipping my work
And was turning, it seems, into such a pure jerk.

So my parents were losing the hopes they had had—
But I can’t really blame them—not Mom and not Dad.
All my grades were just average—I was below
As I staggered along and caused all kinds of woe.

But I now had a girlfriend—so puzzling a thing.
And my voice was now cracking—I’d no longer sing.
And Bad Consequence lived just so far, far away
I was sure he’d not find me—at least not today.

Well, I somehow survived it—that unpleasant year.
And ninth grade was ahead of me? Please, not so drear!
I had stopped reading books; I had stopped being me.
And I bathed for the nonce in Testosterone Sea. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1956

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1956

Ohio now—that’s where I was—
And Hiram was the town
Where we had moved—a tiny place—
My life had tumbled down.

Or so I thought those first few months
When I was, you know, new,
And tried to figure out this place—
Just how to be—and do.

But soon I had the best of friends—
Some still remaining now.
I’d fallen—lucky lad!—onto
The best of spots somehow.

Although my grades were not that hot—
And neither, natch, was I—
I soon believed that I now lived
Beneath a golden sky.

The school was small, so I could be
In every sort of thing—
From sports to music, plays to clubs--
I’d grabbed the golden ring.

Our Oklahoma dog still lived—
Dear Sooner still in form.
(He prob’ly wondered, though, just where
Had vanished all the Warm!)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1955

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1955

In ’55 and ’56
I had my sixth-grade class.*
I didn’t know when it began
That much would come to pass.

But one day Dad informed us: We
Were moving out of state.
He’d taken a position, and
He thought it would be great.

We’re leaving Oklahoma! Oh,
So pure and dear the grief.
My neighborhood, my friends, my school—
I saw no sure relief.

Ohio?!? Isn’t that back East?
And “Buckeye”—what is that?
I wasn’t very happy—oh,
My dad was such a rat!

But leave we did, one August day.
My grandma waved good-bye.
And Grandpa stood beside her—oh,
I then began to cry.

And so it was we left the West—
Where I’d spent all my days.
And journeyed off to the Unknown—
My dreams now all ablaze.

*Mrs. Huddle was my teacher.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1954

1954

In fifth grade, well, I had a witch
Who walked into our class to teach.
She wasn’t really one (so rich!)
But looked like one, a wrinkled peach.

Now these are unkind words, I know,
But such were in my fifth-grade mind.
“Oh, no excuse!” I hear you go.
“How could you be so mean? Unkind?”

Well, so it goes when you are ten.
The Good Guys/Bad Guys sort of thing.
You are not what you should have been—
But Time much better things can bring.

It was a most unpleasant year—
Just lean and mean and full of stress.
I didn’t like a witch so near—
But not much I could do, I guess.

But Disney now was on TV—
And Davy Crockett! Hero mine!
And Mickey Mouse Club humored me—
Doreen, I thought, was really … fine.*

And so the year rolled ever on—
I didn’t know that just ahead
Would come a most unpleasant dawn
When Change would usher in some Dread.

*I knew I had no chance with Annette, so I didn’t waste any libido on her.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Years of My Life, 1953

A Journey from 1944 to … Now

1953

We split the year in ’53—
’Twixt OklahomaTexas, see?
That war (Korean) ended soon—
So home we went (not by balloon).

My third grade year I finished there—
My teacher, Mrs. Ziegler—fair
And just and very well prepared,
Though sometimes I just sat and stared

At girls I liked. My life had changed.
Priorities were rearranged.
I know I was a little young—
The pendulum had really swung.

But I loved baseball—number one.
I couldn’t think of better fun.
Except for playing cowboy, Yo.
My life by then—a rodeo.

My friends that year were Pete and Jim.
And Archie—need to mention him.
And our dog, Sooner—my best friend.
I knew his life would never end.

And so my life seemed ever bright—
And everything (well, most) seemed right.
But here is something—a disgrace:
My Enid: segregated place.

But most of 1953
It was fourth grade—at last!—for me.

**

My fourth-grade year—one of the best.
My teacher, Mrs. Rockwell, knew
Just how to teach—to get right through.
I loved her class—was not a pest

As I had been at other times
When boredom ruled: I had to find
Some ways to occupy my mind,
So mastered several classroom crimes.

Like placing thumbtacks on some seats—
Like launching spitballs in the air
To land on classmates’ desks and hair.
Got caught some times—some brief defeats.

But fourth grade showed a different me—
I did my class work, read my books,
Enjoyed some classmates’ jealous looks.
Found pure delight—the Carnegie

(Our library—not far away).
I checked out books—impressive piles—
Enjoyed my parents’ happy smiles.
And learned to balance school and play.

(It wouldn’t last.)