Interviewed an 83 year old Old Timer

Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview a man who knows a LOT about my hometown.  He had many memories of people and places even though he has lived away from his boyhood stomping grounds for over 50 years.  He attributes the fact that he knows so much because he was a good numbers guy and also was a telegrapher in the Korean war.  With his jobs doing parts, he was a detail guy too, for 43 years.  This is all from a man who had to make the decision to quit school to help with the family. His dad died when he was 9 years old so he was forced to get jobs around town to help support the family. He had a sister and brother.

Marv was an upbeat kind of guy, didn’t say a bad thing about anyone.  He only told jokes or stories that made you laugh or forced you to think.  He claimed he knew 95% of the people in his beautiful living complex because he was on the welcoming committee.  Perhaps that is true but I also think that he had a love for people.  Perhaps he would have made a good politician had he furthered his education.  He thought aloud with saying, “My life would have been so different if only…” and then he trailed off on that sentence. I knew that was probably the one regret he had but still he did well with what he accomplished in his life.  One of the 100 people I featured in my last history book titled “Legendary Locals” about my hometown was a good math teacher.  He really admired her and he said she had wanted him to join in the theater’s plays that they produced.  I was glad to hear him say he had a good relationship with her.  I had heard from other people that she was a task master or at least a tough teacher.

That reminds me of my current situation. I had a young student e-mail me about how he was NOT happy with his final grade.  What perplexes me is that he did not show up for the last month of classes and did NOT do his last two required papers that had significant points attached to them.  He wanted to do the extra work, NOW!  That would amount to MY having to do the extra work so that he could get a better grade. I sent my e-mail exchange with this student, name blocked out of course, to a teaching colleague friend of mine. She backed me up 100% because she said that if she allowed one student to improve their grade, that would set a precedent where all other students would have a chance to do that as well.

Perhaps this student who is still a high school student didn’t have enough advice about how he was in university now, it is a different ballgame. I had 85 other students I taught this past semester, it is not my job to chase after students to find out why they are not attending class.  His father has an office just down the hall from me.  He never asked about his son and I didn’t offer any information to him either.  Now this young lad can’t play in his favorite sport of hockey because he has failed this one course.  He claimed that he got Bs in his other two university courses.  What is a high school kid doing taking THREE college level courses and then playing on the high school hockey team…plus his high school load?  Well, he gets all these courses FREE and what better way to get a college degree than using the system like that, right?

Anyway, I hope I have the support of my boss on this because the father is also under the same boss I am.  Makes for a strange vacation to have things from last semester follow you.  I will have to talk to my boss and the father and perhaps this son when I return from being away for two weeks.  I’m actually glad that I WAS away after all my students got their grades. I haven’t had any of them e-mail me to THANK me for their grade.  It feels like a thankless job to be a composition teacher.  We are in the trenches with kids who come to our classes ill-equipped from high school but then when we get high school kids too who expect GRACE to improve their grades…well that is not an institution of higher learning anymore. You simply have millineals calling the shots.  Not a good trend.

This is my last post of the year of 2014.  I wish I had better news to report but I was glad to talk to an old timer who went through a LOT in his life, worked hard and had good times along the way.  That should balance out the negative review I got from a 16 year old boy who made some bad decisions to NOT do the work and NOT attend my classes.

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