Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NYC Theatre Trip - One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest

Does anyone remember the bus trip to New York City to see the play, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? I can't remember which teacher organized it but it must have been our senior year.

I loved the book and the play, especially the character of mean nurse Ratchett. However, what I remember most about the trip was that when we got off the buses in the theater district, we split up into small groups to get lunch before reuniting to at the appointed time to take our seats in the theater. At least this is how I remember it, someone please correct me, if I have this wrong.

It seems amazing to me that we didn't have chaperone's. It is also amazing that we actually found our way back to the "off Broadway" theater in time for the start of the play. But here is the most important part of this memory. In 1971, the drinking age in NYC was 18 years of age while in Delaware it was 20 or 21. I turned 18 in February of that year and I suppose that some others were 18 already as well. I am trying hard to remember who was in the group I went to lunch with but I can't right now.

Anyway my group found it's way to a restaurant named "Der Weinerwald". Although we were nearly rubes off the turnip truck, I think that we knew enough about German cuisine, to know a key ingredient on any German menu. Yes, that's right. . . beer! Well I think a couple of us ordered beer and maybe someone ordered a glass of wine. I can't remember. However, I do remember someone ordering a martini which really surprised me for some reason. We didn't get drunk but I felt like we were really getting away with something forbidden. As I remember, no one ever asked us for ID.

The theater was "in the round" and the play was good. But there was a thrill to be high school students ordering alcoholic beverages in a restaurant.

Does anyone else remember this trip? Did your groups have chaperones? Did you by alchol?

If I remember more, I will come back and edit this post.

m. m.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Student Teacher Crush - Dana Wilson

Probably no one other than Nels J'Anthony and I still remember Dana Wilson of Oxford, PA. Actually, Nels probably doesn't remember either. Dana Wilson was a student English teacher. I can't seem to remember if she taught us in 11th or 12th grade. However, the event that I am going to relate must have taken place in the summer after our senior year. I can't remember who Dana was student teaching under but maybe it was Miss Carrow.

What I can remember vividly is that I really liked her and that feeling led me and Nels set out in search of her home and family just to see her again. I remember that she had said that her family had a business, The Wilson Dairy Bar in Oxford, PA. Well, one Saturday morning with Nels on the back of my Honda SL-350 we found the Wilson Dairy Bar and the counter person there were sympathetic enough to give me directions to Dana's family farm.

We arrived at their large farm house unannounced. I am sure I never had suggested to Dana that I would visit and I am sure she never expected or had invited such a such a call,. However, she and her family managed to turn the escapade into one of the nicest days I can remember. Nels and I were welcomed with open arms.

I can't remember if she offered us lunch, but what she did offer was to make fresh peach ice cream in one of those electric paddle mixers that you pack around with ice and rock salt and fill with sugar, cream and sliced peaches. It was fantastic ice cream even before we had it in our bowls. Of course they were in the dairy business. Dana had already shown us around a bit and maybe had showed us the barn. But then she took us to the pond and after a bit introduced us to her horse and gave us a chance to ride.

When she was demonstrating, her horse took her close under a tree with low branches. Dana jumped down, snatched up a small branch from the ground and whipped her horse's rump while yelling at it. I was shocked but she assured me that it had been no accident and that her horse was intentionally misbehaving. I think the horse was polite to me though, having been properly reprimanded.

Dana also got out her brother's mini bike and let us ride around the property some on that as well. I would guess that we stayed there at least three hours. She made us feel completely welcome. It must have been several years before I realized what bad manners it was to visit someone like that who we really didn't know.

On that day, no such feeling burdened my soaring spirit. It wonderful lazy visit, she and her mom were completely charming hosts and I went away assured that the world was a magical, beautiful place.

Not only did I get to see this teacher once again, and feed my crush, but she reinforced those existing feelings with memories of her kindness that would fix her in my mind to the end of my days. It seems to me that Dana was the kindest, most indulgent and gracious host that a boy of 17 or 18 could possibly hope to encounter.

I won't hold out any hope that Dana will read this post (that's a lie), but maybe someone else will be moved to share a story of their own about a teacher who managed to avoided embarrassing them while making the student feel great about their self.

michael munroe

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mr. Chambers - The Good Witchdoctor

Dear Classmates,

Who had Mr. Chambers who has forgotten his amazing labs? As much as Mr. Harrison had a hip and charismatic personality, Mr. Chambers was technically amazing. Mr. Chambers always seemed amused in somewhat awkward and self deprecating manner.

If you remember, he never distributed textbooks but taught us exclusively from lecture handouts and experimental procedures. I probably did best in my first year at Lehigh taking physics 101 because Mr. Chambers had really taken us further in his class than my first year laboratory course at college went. The labs we did at Lehigh were not as well executed or as impressively accurate as those constructed by Mr. Chambers.

Some that I remember were:

Equilibrium - strings, weights and perfect ball bearing assemblies to measure vectors of force.

Ballistics - shooting a ball bearing from a gas powered barrel in the middle of the room through a large washer dropped from an electro magnet mounted near the ceiling in the front, top left upper corner of the room. The ball bearing tripped a micro switch as it exited the barrel of the gun so it began to fall under the effect of gravity and the washer dropped at the same time.

Electricity - Big standard modules with the electrical component symbol on the face so that we could see circuits arranged from our seats as far as 20 feet away. I can't remember the circuits but I was always impressed with the interconnection scheme for the components.

Inertia - he had a little powered truck that ran across the demonstration laboratory table in the front of the room and some object popped up and came down moving always at the same speed as the truck below it.

Acceleration - dropping weight or something with red paper tape with some sort of transfer ink and impact marker which showed a mark at regular time intervals but increasing distance.

Does anyone remember any other of Mr. Chamber's lab experiments? Any other memories of him or background?

m. m.

Was Mr. Sokol A Nice Guy

Dear Classmates,

I have often wondered if Mr. Sokol was a nice guy or not. I never felt comfortable that I understook his sense of humor. He taught a laboratory course in Chemistry in high school.

There is something that I don't remember correctly because I also remember Mrs. Dunbar teaching some classes of Chemistry. It is a very vague memory I seem to remember Mr. Dunbar talking about hydrogen as an automobile fuel and what the by products of combustion were.

Back to Mr. Sokol. An article which my wife was recounting to me was about useful illusions. The article as my wife described it reminded me of this dispute which I had with Mr. Sokol. I was talking to him in class. I seem to remember that we were all standing in the back of the room near the left hand row of soapstone topped lab stations.

For some reason, I happened to mention that electrons were arranged in "shells" around the nucleus. I think we were talking about covalent bonds and how the electron affinity was due to the number of electrons populating the outermost "shell."

Mr. Sokol feigned disbelief at my mention of the term "shell" and said something like, "what do you mean, 'shells', I've never heard of this." I defended my terminology and tried to explain that shells was an accepted description of nuclear structure. The more I argued the more Mr. Sokol ridiculed the idea of electrons being arranged in "shells."

To try to substantiate my use of the term shells, I remember making several trips to the University of Delaware Morris library to Xerox pages of books on chemistry and physics where the word shell appeared. I think I brought these articles into Mr. Sokol on two subsequent occasions but he would never concede the point that it seemed to be a ridiculous idea.

So here's the question. Was Mr. Sokol teasing me, knowing somehow that this would cause me to spend several hours researching this point to my own ultimate intellectual advantage. Was he teasing me in public simply because he was a bit of a bully or was he arguing for some more modern construct where electrons were only loosely associated with a single nucleus but rather wondered through a molecular mass, just keeping some sort of statistical relationship or did Mr. Solol want me to discover the idea of quarks with component named charm, beauty, top, truth etc. . . or did he hold that a theory of vibrating strings was closer to the truth.

I suspect that either he was teasing me in front of others because he was immature and a bit mean, or that he was challenging me to gain a deeper understanding but I just don't know. I wonder if he is still alive and even if he doesn't recall the incident would he be honest enough to speculate upon his own motives.