A Double Dose of Ray

The Genius – Ray Charles!

I ran out this afternoon before work to grab dinner for Sam and me. I turned on Sirius XM’s 50’s on 5 channel for the short trip and got a pleasant surprise – back to back songs from Ray Charles. Not only are both songs fantastic, they also were used in two very memorable TV and movie scenes.

Night Time Is The Right Time

This is a song that was recorded way back in 1937 by a guy named Roosevelt Sykes. It was redone in 1957 by Nappy Brown and in 1958 by Ray Charles. Nappy said that the difference between his version and Ray’s was that his was slower and had a gospel group backing him, while Ray’s version was more uptempo and had Margie Hendrix and his Raelettes backing him.

In 1985, “Night Time Is the Right Time” made cultural history when it became the centerpiece of one of the most beloved episodes of The Cosby Show. In this episode, It was lip-synched by the Huxtable family to celebrate their grandparents’ 49th wedding anniversary. In 1997, TV Guide ranked this episode number 54 on its ‘100 Greatest Episodes of All Time’ list.

Mess Around

Mess Around is a song that was written by the president and founder of Atlantic Records. It was actually one of Ray Charles’ first hits, released in 1953. It is a classic boogie woogie blues song that is just fun to listen to. The song was covered by the Animals and the 80’s group, Squeeze. Jools Holland, an original member of Squeeze, said Ray Charles was so impressed that they were doing a version, Ray sent the band his suit.

The song is featured in the 1987 John Hughes classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It plays on the radio as John Candy’s character (Del Griffith) is driving a car at night while Steve Martin’s character (Neal Page) sleeps. John Candy is “dancing” along and playing piano on the dashboard in the scene.

What a joy to hear these two songs back to back today.

Favorite Films – The 80’s

0000701_large-film-reel-tin-can_550

This blog is a continuation of a series I started earlier this week. Somebody had the idea to post a list was to consist of your favorite films from each year of your life.  So, you start with your birth year and move ahead year by year and list all the films from each year.  A post from the Avocado site came up in my “Reader” list of blogs that had the same principle, but with one exception – you can only pick one movie from each year. My last blog focused on my favorites from the 1970’s and this one will feature the 1980’s.

I have a feeling that there will be more movies per year for me to pick from in this decade.

image-asset

1980 was a year for sequels.  Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason returned for another adventure in Smokey and the Bandit II, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker faced off in The Empire Strikes Back, and Christopher Reeve was back as Superman in Superman II. We were first introduced to Jason in the first of many installments of the Friday the 13th franchise.  Queen provided the theme song for the film Flash Gordon.  A few years before he was dealing with a Delorean, Robert Zemeckis directed Kurt Russell and Jack Warden in Used Cars. Jack Nicholson yelled “Here’s Johnny!” in the Shining and Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin dreamed of knocking off their boss in Nine to Five.

I mentioned in the last blog that I had a feeling it would be more difficult to pick just one movie per year as I headed into the 80’s.  That was proven to be true as I looked over the movies for 1980 and saw three of my all-time favorites were released.  ANY three of these could easily be my one pick for the year for the following reasons (1) all three of them have an amazing cast (2) all three of them are funny (3) all three of them are all full of great movie lines!  I want to break the rules and make this a three way tie!  Alas, I have to pick just one.

The first runner up – Caddyshack. Such a funny movie that is quoted every day on golf courses all across the country!  Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase all combine their talents to make this such a funny movie!  Second runner up – The Blues Brothers. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are Jake and Elwood Blues.  It is a comedy of epic proportions and has one of the best soundtracks ever.  Also, very quotable.

The pick for my favorite, though, has to be THE most quoted movie of the ’80s – Airplane!  “I am serious.  And don’t call me Shirley!”

airplane

Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hayes and SO many more!  The Zucker Brothers brought us this comedy, a direct rip-off of a film called Zero Hour (look for the comparison on YouTube), and it is a joke after joke laugh riot.  Having serious actor say these comedy lines straight makes the line even more funny!  The scenes with “Johnny” are worth the price of admission!

happy_birthday_1981_year_of_birth_80s_space_theme_card-rb013f0b5a69748a9acdd23b3f7088cb3_em0cj_307

1981 brought us some great films.  Some of my favorite action movies from ’81 include Burt Reynolds in Sharky’s Machine, and Sylvester Stalone and Billy Dee Williams in Nighthawks. Adventure films included stop-action creatures from Ray Harryhausen in Clash of the Titans and our introduction to Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford starring in Raiders of the Lost Ark (the face melting scene still creeps me out!).

1981 was full of comedies, some better than others (Remember Ringo Starr’s Caveman?!).  Dudley Moore was brilliantly funny in Arthur.  The Muppets return for fun in The Great Muppet Caper.  Chevy Chase, Dabney Coleman, and Nell Carter appear in the underappreciated Modern Problems.  George Hamilton plays dual roles in a film I recently blogged about, Zorro The Gay Blade.  Not his best, but I still laugh at Jerry Lewis’ Hardly Working.  And Mel Brooks offered up History of the World Part I (and left many of us longing for Part II).

Stripes starring Bill Murray, John Candy, and Harold Ramis comes in as a close second here.  It could easily be THE favorite for this year.  It is still funny today, and I find myself quoting it often.  Just edging it out as my favorite is The Cannonball Run.

cbr_burt_dean_others-h_2016

Burt Reynolds leads an all star cast in the race across the country!  Silly fun and many funny lines.  Dom Deluise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. Farrah Fawcett, Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Roger Moore, Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Peter Fonda, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Tillis, and so many more star in this comedy, which will always remain one of my favorites!

year-1982-on-display-slot-machine-style_n2-d8aope__F0014

In 1982, Sylvester Stallone introduced us to Rambo in First Blood while Harrison Ford starred in Blade Runner (which finally just recently got a sequel).  ET phoned home, Sean Penn was stoned out of his mind in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Scott Baio had super powers in Zapped!  Airplane II: The Sequel recycled some old jokes and was not as good as the original.  Michael Keaton drove Henry Winkler crazy in Night Shift.  Creepshow was creepy (and had a cool cameo from Stephen King).  A favorite from this year is Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, which is shot in black and white and Steve interacts with old movie stars.

My top pick for 1982 has got to be Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

580ad425637c18cf19a17e7a9c71237a-700

I didn’t care for the first Star Trek film, but this one was excellent.  Again, we have the original cast back on the Enterprise.  This film goes back to the original series for a tie in.  Ricardo Montalban played the character on the series and now, years later, he finds Kirk and plans to get his revenge.  It is a great story, and the film has a powerful ending.  The best of the entire series in my opinion.  Montalban is just amazing in this movie!

wrath-of-khan

The scene with William Shatner screaming “Khan!” – how can you not love it?

1983

I can already sense the backlash I am going to get for my pick from this year, please remember this is MY list and not yours!

In the comedy category, 1983 had Michael Keaton stepping in for Teri Garr in Mr. Mom. Gary Busey, Marsha Warfield, and Mr. T are a riot in DC Cab while Bob and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis) get their first feature film in Strange Brew. Dan Aykroyd takes on “mom” in Doctor Detroit while Rodney Dangerfield takes on his mother-in-law in Easy Money.  1983 also introduced us to the Griswold family as they make their trip to Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The Skywalker’s were back for the third part of the original trilogy in Return of the Jedi, while Christopher Walken woke from a coma with psychic powers in The Dead Zone.  And who can forget Al Pacino’s thrilling performance in Scarface?  My pick for favorite of this year is a holiday classic – A Christmas Story.

paker-family-christmas-stor

So why this film?  Because it remains one that I faithfully watch every Christmas.  Who can’t relate to the way the Parker boys feel as Christmas approaches?  While it is set in the 1940’s, their excitement mirrors what every child feels during the holidays.  It’s a classic!  I had the chance to see the Christmas Story house this year (and blogged about it) and it was fun to walk through.

1200x680-1984

As I looked over my list from ’84, I once again see more comedies than other genres.  Eddie Murphy went to Detroit to film Beverly Hills Cop, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis took on the spiritual realm in Ghostbusters. Michal Keaton and Joe Piscopo are mobsters is Johnny Dangerously.  We meet the first batch of recruits in the first Police Academy movie, while Cannonball Run II fell flat, despite a great cast. Sight gags and puns galore were seen with Val Kilmer in Top Secret, and we first met Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie.

1984 was the year the Detroit Tigers last won a World Series.  I will never forget the excitement of that series or the season that led up to it. Perhaps that is why my favorite flick from 1984 is The Natural.

The-Natural

Robert Redford is Roy Hobbs and he is an amazing ball player.  The film is based on a 1952 book by Bernard Malamud.  (Spoiler, in case you haven’t seen it) In the book, Hobbs strikes out at the end.  However, in the movie, there is an amazing homerun that knocks out the lights and sparks fly all over the place – one of my favorite endings!

natural

“Knock the cover off the ball ….”

complete1

My list of favorites from this year is not too long.  Not that there weren’t some great films released, because there were, but many of them didn’t make an impact on me.  I enjoyed the James Bond film A View to a Kill (Roger Moore as Bond), Harrison Ford in Witness, and Chevy Chase as Fletch.  The “Brat Pack” film The Breakfast Club was released with your “stereotypical high school teens”. The Goonies was one I watched once. It was ok, but I didn’t see the hype that everyone else did.  As stupid as it was, Transylvania 6-5000 always made me laugh.  Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., John Byner, Geena Davis, and Michael Richards are all part of the cast, and there are some funny (and some very dumb) scenes.

Who would have thought that a board game could inspire a very funny film?  Clue came out in 1985 and had three different endings (it varied on wherever you saw it).  Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Martin Mull, Madeline Khan, Michael McKean, Eileen Brennan, and Lesley Ann Warren play the various people from the game and it is just a blast to watch.  This easily could be my pick, but there is one film that stands out far above the rest.

As someone who always loved stories about time travel, I was hooked immediately by the trailer for Back to the Future. It remains one that I can watch over and over today.

MartyMcFlyDocBrown

There is just SO much to love about this film!!!  Great story.  Great characters (and a great cast).  Comedy.  Suspense.  Good music and a cool car that when it hit 88 miles per hour, you saw some “pretty serious sh*t!”

1986-9

1986 really doesn’t have a stand out film for me.  I enjoyed Top Gun with Tom Cruise (it also has a sequel coming out).  Little Shop of Horrors was an ok movie (Steve Martin as the dentist is a high light).  Tough Guys had some good scenes, but with big stars like Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, I expected more. One Crazy Summer had some funny scenes, but wasn’t a laugh out loud riot.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was good.  I loved the premise of this kid skipping school and doing all that he did … and still making it home before his folks found out (what kid didn’t want to do what Ferris did?!).

The only film that stands out to me from 1986 is one that you may question.  It gets the my pick as favorite for sentimental reasons.  The Three Amigos starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.  I don’t care how many times El Guapo yells “It’s a sweater!”, I laugh!  But that is not why I picked this one.  Back when my oldest son was just diagnosed with autism, we were watching this movie.  There is a scene where the Amigos are sitting around a campfire and they begin to sing the song “Blue Shadows”.  My son walked to the TV and just stared.  He loved that song.  At that time, we had no idea if he would ever really speak more than a few words.  He would watch this scene over and over! I even have it on my iPod because it makes me think of him.

5157_4

After the song, we used to have to wait for the turtle to say “Goodnight, Ned” before we had to rewind that scene.

1987

1987 offered up some classics.  Who wasn’t freaked out by the rabbit scene in Fatal Attraction? Even though you saw it coming, you cried when Richie Valens died in La Bamba. Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World was given new life on the radio thanks to Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam. “Nobody gets outta here without singing the blues” is one of my favorite lines from Adventures in Babysitting.  Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks team up for a Dragnet movie that misses the mark.  Danny Glover and Mel Gibson first teamed up for Lethal Weapon and Kevin Costner played Elliot Ness in The Untouchables.  We also enjoyed the fairy tale The Princess Bride and Mel Brooks parodied Star Wars and space movies with Spaceballs (“We Break for Nobody!”

If you loved Airplane, but have never seen Amazon Women on the Moon, you need to.  It’s as silly as Airplane and has some very funny scenes.  For years, I’ve joked that I’d like my funeral to be like a roast.  I said I would want people to share funny stories about times we shared together.  In this film, there is actually a funeral that is a roast – with a dias that includes Steve Allen, Slappy White, and other comedy greats!

My 1987 favorite goes to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

planes-trains-and-automobiles-20110921015907887_c68-0-1934-1088_s885x516

This is just one of the best John Hughes films.  You get every emotion watching this film.  There are times that are laugh out loud funny and there are times where you are wiping tears from your eyes.  Steve Martin and John Candy are just great together.  This film makes me miss John Candy.  He was such a great actor.

6c6f8dbb-1aec-4042-9084-2229f8a01549_1.9d4f144c2a65c49db91610ff135ac3c7

In 1988 Dirty Harry returned in The Dead Pool, Tom Hanks wished he was Big, and Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were Coming to America.  Bruce Willis starred in the first Die Hard and Michael Keaton was Beetlejuice.  I was impressed by the interaction between humans and cartoons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and (as a Monty Python fan) loved John Cleese and Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda.

With my favorite movie that kicked off this decade (Airplane), it should come as no surprise that my pick from 1988 is The Naked Gun starring Leslie Nielsen.

georgekennedy0103

Shortly after Airplane, the Zucker brothers created Police Squad.  It was a short lived TV show starring Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin.  It aired just 6 episodes.  The show is the premise for the movie.  George Kennedy replaced Alan North and OJ Simpson (pre-murder trial) also starred.  Ricardo Montalban plays the villain in this and is just great.  Not as many lines as Airplane, but just as funny!!

“It’s Enrico Palazzo!!”

1989

As I come to the last year of this decade, I am faced with the same issue I had with the first year.  I have many favorites from this year and wonder just how I can pick only one movie as a favorite!

Comedies included Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights, Weird Al Yankovic starred in his first film UHF, John Candy was Uncle Buck in another John Hughes film, and Charlie Sheen was Wild Thing in Major League (“Just a bit outside!”).  Bernie is dead, but he still has quite an adventure in Weekend at Bernie’s. Jack Palance plays a wonderful bad guy in Tango and Cash and the Griswold’s host Christmas in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And I can’t forget to mention that Doc Brown and Marty McFly return in Back to the Future II (which some people hate because it goes back and forth from time to time – but that’s what I love about it! That, and the fact that they reshot original scenes from Part I and then had the characters interact within that scene.)

Two films that really stand out from 89 are not comedies, but adventure movies.  The runner up for my favorite is Tim Burton’s Batman.  As a fan of the 1966 Batman, I was excited to see how this film would be portrayed.  Michael Keaton played Batman and I thought he did ok.  Jack Nicholson as the Joker was amazing!  I loved his interpretation of the character (though I still believe Cesar Romero is the best).  It was really well done.  This brings me to my favorite film of 1989 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Last-Crusade-06.jpg

In the Indiana Jones series, I always felt this was the strongest of them all.  Harrison Ford is again great as Indy, but his father, played by Sean Connery, steals the scenes.  I can easily see my dad and I fighting with each other like these two do if we ever were off on an adventure like this.  I just love their interactions with each other.  They are both just perfect in this film.  The final scene is also just a picture perfect ending!

So with that, let’s ride into the sunset.  When we return, let’s dive into the 90’s, ok?

Indy-4

Thanks for reading!

film-reel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Take a Quiz and Thank a Teacher … or two.

math

The following “quiz” has been published in books and can be found all over the internet. It is attributed to the cartoonist Charles Schulz, who drew Snoopy and Charlie Brown for many years. An inquiry to the Charles Schulz Museum has proven that the quiz is NOT something he said, however, it does make an amazing point and is a good starting point for today’s blog.

Here’s the first quiz:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The facts are, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

When I look back on my life, there are many teachers that have made a difference in my life. Some of them are no longer around, and some of them, I am lucky to still be in contact with. Today, I salute some of them.

Mrs. Waters – Kindergarten.

Back when I was a kid, you didn’t have all of these levels of preschool to go through. Kindergarten was your first stop. It was the first time you were away from mom and dad. I wish I could remember more about kindergarten than I do, but what I do remember is that Mrs. Waters was one of the sweetest ladies and she was always smiling. I remember it was either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day and we had to each paint something for Mom or Dad. I had a floppy “paint shirt” which was one of my dad’s old shirts and I remember she took a picture of each student in this shirt and sent a black and white 5X7 of it home. Sadly, it is probably long gone. I remember before she took the picture she came over and fixed my hair and said, “we want mom and dad to see those beautiful brown eyes of yours”. Probably the one and only moment from kindergarten I remember.

Mrs. Cook – Second Grade.

Why is she so important? We moved in the middle of second grade. I was leaving all of my friends behind and starting new. I remember my dad taking me to school that day and we were in the office as the National Anthem was playing. I was taken down to the room and Mrs. Cook walked over to get me at the door. She brought me up in front of the class and had me introduce myself. I know this is hard to believe, especially with all the public speaking have done in the past, but I was scared to death. All these kids were looking at me. She helped me by asking me questions, letting me answer, and then asked the class if they had questions. I don’t recall if they did, but she made that whole experience so much less stressful for me.

Mrs. Gallop – Fourth Grade.

She was fun. I would have to say that my love for reading probably came from her. I remember how reading was such an important part of class. I recall her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”, “SuperFudge” and “James and the Giant Peach”. She was so animated as she read to us each day. She loved reading and we loved hearing her read. One of the first chapter books I got for my sons was “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”. I remember in “James and the Giant Peach” there was a swear word. To be honest, I don’t recall what it was, but she warned us. She tried to play it off. When she read it, there was shock then giggles. Mrs. Gallop swore!!! She kept reading as animated as ever. When I took my sons to see the play at the Flint Youth Theater not too long ago, I remembered sitting around on small pieces of carpet listening to the story.

Mrs. Kellogg – 7th Grade.

I just loved her! She was no nonsense, and yet enjoyed a little nonsense at times. I was lucky enough to have her for 7th and 8th grade for English. She was tough and I learned a lot about writing because of her. She also was instrumental in getting me to be proactive about working. Yeah, I was not very self-motivated at this point in my life. We were supposed to be doing some quiet reading, and I think I was staring off out the window or something and she called my name and said, “Don’t just sit there like a Willie Lump Lump! Get your eyes on the book!” Well, Willie Lump Lump was a Red Skelton character, who I knew because my dad let us listen to old radio shows. I laughed at this and a special bond was created. I never wanted to disappoint her, and I took initiative to get my work done.

She is also responsible for a yearly tradition for me. We read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 7th and 8th grade. I have read it every year since. I kept in contact with her long after she retired and sadly, I lost her address in between moves. She passed away before I had the chance to reconnect with her. She was a fine example of a caring teacher.

Mr. Harvey – 9th Grade.

I was probably the worst algebra student. I got sick and missed about two weeks of school. When I returned I had no clue what we were doing. I tanked quizzes and tests and we were closing in on the finals. He asked me to stay after class and asked what was up. I told him that I was just lost. He told me he was worried that I was not going to pass the class. He offered to stay after school with me to reteach some of the things I was confused about. Needless to say, there was a lot I was confused about and he realized it right away. He asked why I didn’t ask for help. He worked with me and I squeaked by with a D. Not a proud moment, but it would have been an E for sure if he hadn’t gone out of his way to help.

Mr. Benefield – 9th Grade.

Remember that scene in Stripes when John Candy says as a kid he “swallowed a lot of aggression … along with a lot of pizzas”? That was me. Gym class was not my favorite because I was overweight and never felt like I could do what everyone else was doing. Mr. B was fair. He knew when I was slacking and all he had to say was my name and I would kick it up a notch. Gym class was not like your other classes where there were 25 kids – there were double that or more in gym. If he was calling me out – it wasn’t because he was being mean, it was because he knew I wasn’t giving all that HE knew I was capable of. Side note – he was one of the best damn football coaches our school has ever had!

Mr. Balos – 12th Grade.

Ok, I had him for a senior elective class called Life in America, and it wasn’t a very hard class, but I still learned a lot from him. First of all, he taught us the importance of history. Granted this was entertainment history, but it was still history. Second, he knew that hard work had to be balanced with a little fun. He always wrapped up class five minutes before the bell and told us a “story”. These “stories” were jokes older than he was. While there were many kids who either groaned or stared off dumbfounded because they didn’t get the punch line … I was always laughing like hell. He once said “A bad joke is ALWAYS worth sharing”. It is – throughout life, some of the most awkward situations I have been in were always made a bit less stressful because I told one of his “stories”. I also learned a lot about golf from him and I can hear him every time I get on the tee … “the ball is seven feet long”.

Mr. Yanoulaki – 12th Grade.

As I stated already, I sucked at math. I was lucky enough to have Mr. Y for math in 12th grade. I want to say that the class was called “Math for Life” or “Math for Everyday Living” or something like that. It was the class I felt everyone should have. In it we talked about figuring out gas mileage, how to balance a checkbook, learning to calculate volume and measurements, how to calculate percentages, and a whole lot of other things that I use every day. He was very energetic – it was like he had ADD. He was always moving from the time he walked in to class until class was over. Many people tried to take advantage of him and make fun of him, but I really thought he was great. He was such a genuine man. He knew when people were toying with him and often just ignored them. Sometimes people would push him a bit too far and it would make him angry. Respect is something that many of my classmates did not have. He could be very fun, but when it was time to work – that’s what we needed to do. It was when someone decided to try to get him talking about something off topic that he’d get mad. He did not have any issues having someone removed from class because of things like this. I think many just pushed him so they WOULD get kicked out. I have remained in touch with him after all these years and he is still doing well and as energetic and healthy as ever. His nephew is my chiropractor and we’re hoping to get together for coffee one day soon.

Mr. Shaner 9th-12th Grade.

Mr. Shaner was my band director. If you are looking for my stance on Music Education in schools – here it is. “I LEARNED MORE TO PREPARE ME FOR LIFE FROM BAND CLASS THAN ANY OTHER CLASS IN SCHOOL”. There. I said it. I learned the importance of preparation. I learned the importance of punctuality. I learned the importance of practice. I learned the importance of team work. I learned the importance of organization. I learned the importance of patience. All of my time management skills came directly from band class. I learned about discipline and work ethic. I learned the importance of cooperation and respect. The list goes on and on. The lessons that I took from band class in itself can be an entire blog.

I recall one day in 9th grade, I was running late for school. I grabbed a pair of khaki pants from a basket that was in the laundry room. I walked into school and TS said “Hey, man, you know an iron can get those wrinkles out of your slacks”. Now some people might think this was mean. I didn’t take it that way. Instead, it made me aware of little things like looking good. It was a simple nudge to take an extra minute to dress right.

It was not odd for him to call someone in the office and ask if everything was ok if they looked like something was bothering them. Sometimes he would get wind of a situation someone was dealing with and he would be aware that there was a lesson in it for everyone. He would just tell some story in class with the lesson at the end and it did two things – it helped the person in the situation AND it helped the rest of us in case that situation ever popped up in our lives.

I remember one time Steve and I were goofing off during a rehearsal. It was the day before festival, so it was not the time to be fooling around. He stopped the band and asked us what was so funny. Because we did not have an answer he pointed to the door and said “I’ll see you after rehearsal”. We sat at the end of the hall and pondered how much trouble we were going to get into not only with him but with our folks. He sent Kelly, the band president down to the end of the hall to get us. He looked at us dead in the eye and said “I did not want you to go with us to festival tomorrow, but the band as a whole voted and said you should come”. He proceeded with the rehearsal. The following day, I was the first to arrive in the band room. He greeted me with a smile and I was completely confused. He was SO angry the day before. I asked if he had a second and he said to follow him to his office. He sat down and looked at me, like he had no idea why I was there. I apologized for my behavior the previous day and told him it would never happen again. He stared at me for a few seconds and got up quickly (which scared the hell out of me). He extended his hand and said, “It takes a lot of guts to admit when you are wrong. It takes a real man to apologize. Thank you for taking responsibility for your actions. I have a lot of respect for you.” He took it a step further and made sure the entire band knew what happened. He said he thought that they should know that I cared enough about them to apologize for my actions. Talk about respect? I have the utmost respect for that man and all of the lessons I still carry with me to this day. I am glad that we have remained in contact all these years later. He was a major influence in my life and in the lives of many students.

Christine, Michele, and Angie – College.

It would not be fair for me to write about teachers if I did not mention these three ladies. They were the instructors in college for my sleep program. Each of them taught differently and with different styles, but they still got the information to me. You know that saying “Learning can be fun”? They made it fun. But wait…it was college. I was late to the college party as I didn’t go until I was over 40. Everything I had seen about college had big classes with serious teachers who took no BS. While we learned, we laughed. There were plenty of funny stories and we learned from them. And each one of them cared for their students. Never once was I turned away if I had a question about something we learned in class. If I didn’t understand, they would go over it and over it until I DID understand. Sure there were other classes I had to take in college, but these classes and these three wonderful ladies – who I also call my friends – helped me to walk across a stage with a college degree … something I NEVER thought I was capable of doing.

There are many more teachers I can mention (and knowing me, probably will in future blogs), I want to say thanks to each and every teacher who was a part of my school years. You made a difference. You should be applauded and commended for the work you do. The many hours of your own time that you spent grading papers. The extra time you took to help that one student who was struggling. The money that you spent out of your own pocket to get something for your class. You may never know the influence that you had on a student, but I am here to tell you on their behalf that you did make an impact and to thank you.

If you are a teacher in the classroom setting today, whether it is grade school, high school, or college. You are one of the most important people in this country. YOU matter. YOU are helping tomorrow’s scientists dream. You are helping feed the doctors of tomorrow wisdom. You are shaping our future. I thank you!