Is there a teacher in your life who influenced you? Have you told them thank you? I was lucky enough to have wonderful English teachers, but I did thank the two that meant the most to me, Larry Zimmer and Adele Ashe.
Unfortunately, at my age, I'm losing too many people that were important to me. And, Adele Ashe died a couple days ago, at the age of 81. She'll be missed by her family, friends, and a number of former students. I know my sisters and I share memories of her classes.
Adele Ashe was one of our English teachers at St. Peter's Catholic School in Huron, Ohio. I'm a reader, so I appreciated the books she had us read. But, she had the biggest impact on all three of us when she introduced us to poetry. In Mrs. Ashe's classes, we read poetry, analyzed it, and, most important, memorized it, and recited it. It's a special memory I share with my sisters, because to this day, we can all three recite parts of Stephen Vincent Benet's poem, "Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright". And, then there was Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, "Ozymandias".
Do teachers today still require students to memorize poems, and recite them in front of the entire class? Do students still read Shelley and Benet in elementary school? Probably not, but Adele Ashe was an exceptional teacher, who taught us to appreciate poetry, the words, the rhythm.
I was able to thank Adele Ashe. And, I was fortunate enough to get to know her as an adult, when I was Library Director at the Huron Public Library, and she was a patron. Exceptional teachers are treasures in the life of students. They are always missed.
For my sisters, Linda and Christie -
Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright
Said Orville Wright to Wilbur Wright,
"These birds are very trying,
I'm sick of hearing them cheep-cheep
About the fun of flying.
A bird has feathers, it is true.
That much I freely grant.
But must that stop us, W?"
Said Wilbur Wright, "It shan't."
And so they built a glider, first,
And then they built another.
—There never were two brothers more
Devoted to each other.
They ran a dusty little shop
And bought each other soda-pop
And praised each other's daring.
They glided here, they glided there,
They sometimes skinned their noses.
—For learning how to rule the air
Was not a bed of roses
—But each would murmur, afterward,
While patching up his bro.
"Are we discouraged, W?"
"Of course we are not, O!"
And finally, at Kitty Hawk
In Nineteen-Three (let's cheer it!),
The first real airplane really flew
With Orville there to steer it!
—And kingdoms may forget their kings
And dogs forget their bites,
But not till Man forgets his wings
Will men forget the Wrights.
Stephen Vincent Benet
Thank you, Mrs. Ashe.