The Texture Of Things

In Memoriam

August 17th, 2007

Clyde was an old-timey teacher in all the best ways, picking up only a couple of the new-fangled ideas (like drafting and revision) to augment his classic style. He had high standards, high expectations for his students and for their writing, and high hopes for every human being he ever met.

He always had a quick smile for me and a few minutes to chat about the building renovations, our latest semester break, some aspect of a challenging student paper, politics, weather, and dessert. Every part of the man was round – his face, his belly, his hands, his glasses, and the top of his cane. I won’t say he seemed jolly, but I will say I think the man was happy. His stories of holidays and adventures with his wife (they had no children) told me that long ago.

Already I miss Clyde. Yesterday I attended the annual Fall Orientation at my school, and through the whole meeting I wondered where he was. It was strange to see Harry (another part-timer and possibly Clyde’s best friend – at school, at least) sitting alone. It crossed my mind that perhaps Clyde had been to the morning session, which I had not attended because I was in class. When I learned afterward that it was Clyde who was suddenly struck ill last semester, was hospitalized, and passed away a month after the start of it all, I felt a bit ill. I can’t imagine my school without him.

I know I will learn the new sounds in the hallway at 5:30 p.m. on a school night, just as I learned to listen for Clyde’s and Harry’s laughter or debate, but it will be an adjustment I didn’t expect to find myself making. Not so soon. Not now. Not just as I am about to walk into the last session of my summer class on Tuesday to have my students complete the last step in a writing assignment that Clyde showed me.

Wherever you are right now, my friend, I hope it is exactly where you hoped you’d be.




I have been absent the blog lately because of school (I’m teaching a summer course, which is kicking my sorry ass), work (my uncle is out again on medical leave and my mom has been needed elsewhere, so I’m running their shop), wifing, and parenting. Please notice “housework” neither appears nor is implied on this list, and HG can attest to that. In fact, that is probably what I should be doing instead of writing this, but I am shirking that responsibility as well. Ha! Take that, adulthood!


  1. KLee says

    Sorry to hear that your friend is no longer with you. I know you will miss him terribly.

    Also sorry to hear that the world is kicking your ass right now. I can empathize. Hope your class winds up soon, and that you can catch a bit of a break before fall comes rushing at you.

    August 17th, 2007 | #

  2. coffeypot says

    Sorry about loosing Clyde, but it tends to make your “rat race” a little easier to take. After all, I had rather be in a rat race above ground than worm food below ground.

    I often wondered what teachers talked about in their break room. I remember having to go into a teacher’s break room one time to deliver a message (back in the ’59, ‘60’s time frame) and the cigarette smoke was like a London fog. And they would get on to us for smoking in the restrooms. Not me, though. Them!

    August 18th, 2007 | #

  3. admin says

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, you two.

    Ah, the rush of fall. KLee, I can already feel the breeze picking up, and my last day of this semester isn’t until Tuesday. Heaven help me. At least I’m healthy right now, though my asthma is working me over today…

    Coffeypot – I am complete with you. What was up with the layer of smoke in the teachers’ lounge? It was like walking into a concert arena after a rock show, back before they banned smoking everywhere, of course. I graduated in ’91, and I promise you, the teachers’ lounge was still offensive. But then, so was the student smoking lounge, so what am I complaining about? I don’t even know. I’ve never smoked.

    As a part-timer at a community college, I don’t even have an office space to meet with students. We adjuncts do our gossiping in front of our mailboxes or in the hallways outside class. Keeps us mostly honest since all the faculty offices are located on the same floor as the English classrooms. It’s not exactly good form to badmouth the chair when s/he can hear ya! 😉

    Also? I wasn’t joking about talking about dessert with Clyde. My school has a culinary program, and the senior students have to help run a high-end cafe from August to May in order to graduate. For $5-6, you get a dinner-sized meal, the likes of which you’d normally pay $12-15 in a restaurant. And, oh heavens, the desserts…

    Suddenly, I can’t wait for fall semester.

    August 18th, 2007 | #

  4. coffeypot says

    When I went into the teachers lounge it was full of cigarette smoke, I mean the room was white. And it stunk. The smoke from rock concerts wasn’t even heard of then. Concerts in the Atlanta area were rare. And when they did have one it cost $4 to $6 to get in. We had plenty of sock hops at various locations with local celebrities like Tommy Roe and some other one hit wonders that I can’t remember. We only knew of the wacky stuff as “loco weed” from the cowboy movies. All the chaperones had to worry about was us sneaking out to the car for a beer. Simple times, huh?

    Now that you mentioned it, as an alumnus I could go back to my old school and eat in the student union. Boy would I stick out like a sore thumb.

    After I retired I thought about teaching. Even went to the school to talk to a couple of my former department heads, but decided I don’t need to be there because I can’t carry weapons on campus. I don’t have the patience to put up with a smart mouth punk. I know that not all are like that, but it only takes one.

    Have a good school year – even with out Clyde.

    August 19th, 2007 | #

  5. admin says

    It only takes ONE? Coffeypot. I have at least 4 in my class of 20 right now. (I started with 27 students and managed to scare off 7 so far. Not my best record, but respectable.)

    About five class sessions in, we talked about a sample reading from the text book on the topic of schools with Native American mascots. Several students in the class are regular students at a university here in my fair state whose teams are named the Chippewas. They all defended their decisions to, as young white folk, paint their faces and dress as Native Americans. Okay, that alone is a topic for another day.

    My point is that they outed themselves as students at that university, which prompted the scorn of other students who are enrolled at the Chippewas’ great rival university. They all spent their semester staging attacks against each other. One student made it a regular point to wear a T-shirt that read (in giant letters) F*CK WESTERN.

    Daily I wanted to say to them: Dudes, your schools all suck, both in academics and in sports, so shut the hell up and get back to work.

    I get what you’re saying about it being a good thing they don’t let me carry a weapon to school.

    Thanks for the kind wishes about Clyde.

    August 19th, 2007 | #

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