Mr. Harata, et al...Thanks again!
I have a whole list of "inspiring" teachers to remember and thank. My most memorable was Mr. Harata at Eagle Rock High. He was my English Lit. and composition teacher. He was the first teacher who had me convinced that I "could write". He, by his wealth of encouraging comments, in the margins, had me rough drafting and rewriting with aplomb. He led some lively discussions of our assigned reading in English Lit. All the standards you'd think of for that course. We then had to write a major research paper on one of them. I chose "Pilgrim's Progress". I was such a believer at that time. I remember I compared that work to one of C.S. Lewis' books, I think it was "Screwtape Letters". Ah yes, the devil writing about how he was tempting a poor innocent "pilgrim". What fun! And he read it!...and egged me on.
Another high school teacher, whose name I've forgotten, gave me a writing award from the English Department. I don't know if I kept the certificate. It was for "Most Sincerity" or something like that. You see, I had almost totally plagerized a story about the animals talking at Christmas and how the donkey had said that he carried "A King". When I turned it in I put in a footnote that I had done that. She was impressed that I would admit it I guess.
I remember another teacher in Junior High liking my poem about my first walk on new snow and the sound it made with my big boots. I don't remember the class or the assignment but I remember who I was walking with when I had those "poetic feelings"...my future wife and first love. I didn't know it at the time. It was a church "winter camp" we both went to.
Then there was the teacher of Social Studies in Jr. Hi who got me to write for an Essay Contest on "My Hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower". I didn't win, but I learned alot about how to do research on someone's life. My mom was a republican and helped me. My dad was a democrat. When they voted, they always said they "cancelled out each other". I didn't become either, nor did I follow in Dwight's footsteps either. I enlisted in the Navy like my dad.
In college, I'll never forget Zenos Hawkinson my U.S. History professor at North Park. He was the consummate lecturer and had you with him from the very beginning. Then he gave such inspiring "blue book" essay tests. "Imagine the Colonization of the Moon" and compare it to the "Colonization of America". ..all in two hours. Remember those assignments? He made History come to life and relevant for me. .. the first time too.
Then there was Mr. Soneson, my philosophy professor. Again, challenging my beliefs and my "very conservative" upbringing. He had me doing papers on "pragmatism" and William James. This was the most difficult kind of writing because it was soul-searching at the same time.
At Cal-State L.A. I had a famous counselor and Statistic Professor for Psychology. Solomon Diamond, had just written a new book on Statistics and it was "not boring" as you would expect stat to be. He had some crazy examples and illustrations of probability, and coefficients of significance which really stuck with you and made it crystal clear. He was a good counselor too and led me into more Psych. courses and the desire to be counselor. I later found out that you had to have 5 years experience as a teacher. I did that and never looked back. I was having too much fun teaching. I got into teaching drama, plays and acting and that side-tracked my love of writing. Now I'd like to combine the two...screenplays? Who knows? I'll just keep bobbin' along and see what develops. Hopefully I've inspired a few students, maybe one, to write for the pure pleasure of it. Bob