Saturday, June 08, 2013

Hall of Fame

With my plaque after the banquet.
I traveled to Massachusetts Wednesday to attend my induction into the Rockland High School Academic Hall of Fame. I got a great deal on Spirit Airlines, a round-trip non-stop ticket from DFW to Logan Airport for $127. I had to leave Dallas at 1:15 a.m. but who cares at that price?

I picked up a rental car and was in Rockland by 7 a.m. (With the bargain I got with the plane ticket, the car rental proved to be the single largest expense of the trip.) My Motel 6 room in Braintree cost double of what it would have in Texas. I tried to keep costs down because this was a purely personal trip; Patricia wasn't able to come, school was still in session.

When I arrived in Rockland I went to the school administration office and was there by 7:30, so I called Patricia back in Texas and gave her a wake-up call (she always gets up at 6:30 a.m.) and then reported I was back in the Principal's office! I handed the phone over to a staff member to confirm it.

I visited the church I used to attend when I was growing up there, Holy Family Catholic Church, and stumbled into the daily 9:00 a.m. Mass. Afterwards, I went over to the town library and checked out the expansion and improvements that have been done since I left the city.

I took a few minutes to read the local newspapers, and saw that the Rockland Standard name for the weekly newspaper I worked on as a teenager has been officially retired. It was changed to the Rockland Mariner in March 2011. I didn't know what, Patricia and I were last in Rockland in November 2010.

I then drove to Providence and had lunch with John Teehan of Merry Blacksmith Press, and talked about my next book project while eating seafood at Iggy's Doughboys and Chowder House overlooking Narragansett Bay. The food was great and the sea breeze smelled wonderful. John and I talked shop and had a very productive visit.

I drove back into Massachusetts and checked into my motel in Braintree, and then after a short nap, drove back to the South Shore and to the function hall in Abington where the dinner was being held.

The Rockland High School Academic Hall of Fame was instituted in 1988, and has 88 members. There were four inductees this year; one of them, Steve Sangster, was my health education teacher (I was a member of the Class of 1975) and he just retired last year as principal of Rockland High School.

I sat in the audience between Scott MacKinlay and Joe Waisgerber, who were the principal and head guidance counselor when I was in school. It was great to see them again, and wonderful to see them hale and whole after all these years.

At one point, MacKinlay was talking to another teacher, and when I went to interject, stopped and turned around. "Louis, how many times have I told you not to interrupt when your elders are speaking!" he said grasping my forearm. "Haven't I taught you anything?

Gulp! "Yes, Mr. MacKinlay!" said I, rather sheepishly. I'm 56, and he can still school my ass!

One former teacher, Ellen Donahue, came over and said hi. It was great to see her looking so good, and she reminded me of some stories.

The Hall of Fame induction is held in conjunction with the underclassmen's academic awards banquet; the theory is that the academically outstanding students can see Rockland graduates who went on to do well for themselves.

I pretty much gave them a pep talk; I always thought Rockland has somewhat of an inferiority complex. I told them about some perspectives and experience they might find useful.

In summation, I apologized to any educators in the room who were there when I was such an obnoxious teenager: "I'm so damn sorry!"

One teacher is left at the high school from when I was a student, Madeline Lannin-Cotton; she teaches journalism. She arranged for me to speak to the undergraduates in her journalism class (the seniors have already graduated) and other English classes on Thursday, and I flew back late Thursday evening.

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