Monday, January 07, 2013

End of an Era

This past Friday, this obituary was published in the local newspaper here.

What sad news to see that one of the nicest and best teachers our local school district has ever had was gone from our midst.

"Mr. Link" -as most of his former students called him -was one of my teachers -way back when I was in high school. He was the Health teacher my classmates and I had for our Freshman year health class and also taught History back in my day then too so I later had him for my Problems of Democracy class my senior year and I think he also taught our Junior American history class too.  That was a long, long time ago ya know so I'm not totally sure if my memory is correct about the American History class, although I can't think, offhand, of anyone else who might have taught that class.

He was such a nice man though is one of the things I remember best about him -very quiet mannered but with a great sense of humor too.

He often would regale his classes with stories about when he was in the service and served in Japan but those comments always began by him saying "Well, when I was in Jaaaa-Pan -elongating the pronunciation on that country's name and when we heard him say that, all ears were turned to pay attention to whatever story he had for us that day then. It was a good attention getter, for sure.

He also used to do this little trick he had too where he would wiggle his ears and then, make his Adam's apple bounce up and down at the same time which was so silly it would also get everyone to giggling in class then.

It still didn't stop his students from occasionally acting up in class but I think we knew too how much we could safely get away with in his classes -just how far we could dare to push that envelope -so we had our fun and still managed to learn a lot in his classes at the same time. Enjoying one's self doesn't keep kids from learning -just makes the medicine go down easier, I think.

I have to confess that I too was one of those students who did like to do things from time to time to prank a teacher and Mr. Link was one of those that I dared to do things like that in his class.

I remember one time he was a bit peeved at my best friend and I back then one day and to punish us, he told us we had to write every word in whatever chapter we were on in our class that particular day/week. So she and I, decided okay, we would do that. But, what we did was to write every word down, yes, but we wrote it as one continuous word with no spaces, no punctuation, no capitalization, etc. A trick we thought was pretty good to pull on him and which, when we handed that paper in to him, he took one look and just shook his head at what must have taken us way longer to copy that out in that manner. Another teacher would probably have thrown a hissy fit with us but not him.

My kids -who went to school in the same district as I had but by that time, they went to a new school and not the small high school building I had attended. But for me, it was nice and fun too, to listen to them come home and tell me some of the things he said from time to time to their classes too. He still used the ear wiggling and Adam's apple bobbing trick along with the stories about "When I was in JAAA-PAN too and they enjoyed his classes every bit as much as I had -twenty plus years earlier.

Today, I think there are three teachers I had in school still living -all three are women. One was my teacher for 5th and 6th grade who now resides in an assisted living facility near here. She just wasn't able physically to continue living alone, on her own, but mentally, she is very alert and remembers her former students from over 60 years ago almost like it were yesterday. The other two ladies -one was my Art teacher, the other taught typing -are both doing quite well too.

My former typing teacher is a mega history buff and she is my "Go To" person when I am writing anything about local history because if she doesn't know or remember something, not too many avenues are left to find answers to that type of question in this region! She's also one of the busiest people I know too -always active in something, somewhere and on the move!

We should all be so lucky to reach almost 90 years of age and be that healthy, shouldn't we?

I recall very fondly when my classmates and I celebrated our 40th Class Reunion fifteen years ago and we had that reunion at the home of one of our classmates. We invited any of those teachers we'd had 35 years earlier to attend and Mr. Link was one who showed up. I'll never forget the hush that went over the crowd when they recognized him walking across the large field to our location and those from my class then began to line up, single file, and each one walked up to him to shake his hand and greet him and finally showed the full respect we had for him when he taught us but which we would never probably would have shown back then. It was an awesome sight to see each one do that, and to thank him then for all he'd done for us in his position as our teacher.

I scanned this clipping from the newspaper into my computer and posted it on my Facebook page as well as on a special Facebook page  -called "Grassflat Grown" -where those interested in local things, events, sharing memories and such -can go to read up on some things like this.

In doing that, it really made me feel good to see how many people had visited that page for openers and viewed his obituary and even more so, to read the comments left behind there in tribute to him.

Seems I was very far from being alone in my sentiments about Mr. Link.

May he have a peaceful journey and rest in peace, knowing perhaps how much of an impact he had on so many of his former students.

My condolences go out to his wife, children and grandchildren.

1 comment:

terri said...

He seems like a wonderful man and certainly left a positive and lasting impression on the many students whose lives he touched. We should all be so lucky as to have such an influence in our lives.