Now that school has started, it reminds me of the missed opportunity that I had to learn.
It was self inflicted because there were a lot of well qualified teachers who tried to get me to learn. I was not interested in what they had to offer; I did only enough to get to the next grade. I was a “C” student with a few B’s and D’s thrown in.
I was more interested in hunting, fishing, horses, girls and sports and not necessarily in that order.
My mother did not remember me bringing home one book in High School.
I have to agree with her on that point. I especially disliked English composition and punctuation. Diagramming sentences made no sense to me.
Math, history, civics and geography made a lot more sense. Later, I wished many times that I had paid more attention to the English teachers. They tried to teach me how to speak and write properly.
Miss Hammond was my English teacher in my sophomore year. She was from South Bend, Indiana and right out of college. She was not much older than we students.
On one occasion a couple of my buddies and I were conversing and disrupting the class when we should have been paying attention to Miss Hammond. I sat by a cast iron radiator that had steam running through it. Miss Hammond came running to the back of the room with her arm cocked. She was aiming to do harm to all three of us if she could.
I was her first target. She swung at me and I ducked. She hit the radiator as hard as she could. If she had hit me it might have taken my head off. At that very same time the second bell rang and we hurried to our next class. Miss Hammond was wringing her arm due to the pain. She was too embarrassed to report the incident to Mr. Nelson or we would have been in deep trouble!
I went into the Navy in 1951. I figured that high school education was all that I needed. It did not take long to see that was not the case.
I was in communications and worked in the message center aboard the USS Boxer CVA21, an attack carrier. There were many officers in charge of the message center. They were my age or slightly older and had gone to a couple of years of college. They had gone to Officers Candidate at OCS. They made more money, had better quarters, clothes, food and more privileges.
Yet, I had to show them how we operated in the message center. That is when the light came on: “Maybe there is something to getting a further education after all?” The only difference between them and me was a couple of years of college.
There were a lot of us returning veterans from the Korean War in 1955. Many of us enrolled in the Sheridan College in the old hospital on Saberton Street under the GI Bill. The fee for a semester was slightly over $100. As a single man, I got $110 a month from the Bill. My attitude had changed and my grades reflected the change. I wanted to learn and get good grades. I did. I had to learn good study habits.
Later in life, I was hired for jobs that I would not have been considered for if I had not gone to college. I could have performed those jobs without college, but I would not have the job if it wasn’t for my education.
To the students of today, pay attention to your teachers. They are trying to help you to develop the skills for your future endeavors. It may seem unimportant now, but later you may need what they are offering you today.
Bob Huff grew up in Upton. He is a driver for the Mini-Bus public transportation service managed by the Sheridan Senior Center.