Friday, March 2, 2012

Have a Good Day, Folks...

Just yesterday, something completely unrelated prompted me to check out my high school’s alumni newspaper. I scanned a PDF file version of it online and was drawn—as I often am—to the most recent additions to the“In Memoriam” roster of those who were, once upon a time, part of the school’s diverse family. There were students like me on the list, and former teachers, too. Among the latter was a man I remember both very well and very fondly. When I was a student, he taught physics and other science courses, and was chairman of the department. I never had him as a teacher, but I called on him one time to get his John Hancock, and official approval, for a chemistry course taught by one of his colleagues.

The man was quite affable and looked the part of science geek with his sweater vests, corduroy sports jackets, high-water pants, and hush puppies. But then this was the mid- and late-1970s I'm talking about, when I wore garish polyester sports jackets, gaudy ties, and earth shoes to high school. I see now the boys at my alma mater no longer have this sartorial freedom and are required to wear staid uniform jackets and slacks. So long as we wore a jacket, tie, and shoes (no sneakers), we could dress creatively and colorfully if that is what we desired. It was a much freer time and, yes, somewhat stranger one as well.

Anyway, back to the man whose name was among the deceased. He was my homeroom teacher in senior year, 1979-1980, and had a catchphrase I always found warm and reassuring in a decidedly non-warm and reassuring environment. When the bell would sound to officially begin our school day, he would say without fail: “Have a good day, folks.” I had actually been witness to this good cheer in a prior year. During free periods, we had various options at our school, including calling upon a room dubbed “Quiet Study,” which was always moderated by a member of the faculty. My future homeroom teacher lorded over more than a few “Quiet Study” periods and—when the bell sounded for the next class—he would always say, “Have a good day, folks.”

Okay, so it’s been thirty-two years since I graduated from high school. My classmates and I will turn fifty this year. But our teachers—wow—thirty-two plus thirty, forty, and fifty. Do the arithmetic. We’re talking about men and women in their sixties, seventies, and eighties or, of course, gone with the wind. I liked my senior year homeroom teacher a lot and will never forget his unfailingly upbeat wish to students one and all. He was new age in an old age. I thus leave you with this: "Have a good day, folks."

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