a list: #2

by tobias crabtree

funny the things i can remember. the contrast between what i choose to remember and choose to forget is frightening, err, at least to me it’s frightening, you’d probably roll your eyes at it. i can remember where a 6 foot tall barrel cactus is in the middle of the mojave, but i lose a new beenie usually within 4 to 5 days after buying it. that’s why i don’t ever have a favorite beenie (and it’s so sad).

there are certain things that are stuck in my head. it’s kinda like there’s a thread that ties the important stuff together, but’s it’s a thin thread, and hard to see. stuff like picture books and old dogs and favorite bikes and fishing holes…and teachers. this is for the teachers in my life. some are long gone from this dirt-under-my-fingernails existence but they live on in the full color hallways of my memory.

to miss scovell and her love for children that showed even 20 some years after kindergarten. to mrs. baiz (sp?) and her 1st grade encouragement and how we got to eat lunch! and the smell of apples and bread and peanut butter and jelly that filled the classroom. to miss brunz, and the sweetness that i remember her for having. to miss ingbretson and the fear she instilled for too much clowning. to mrs. gleasnor who played the piano every morning and taught us to sing loudly with smiles and who was stern and sweet and who walked through the door of a library 30 years after i went on to 5th grade and i smiled from under my long hair and beard and earrings and said, “hello, mrs. gleasnor, i’m tobias crabtree, you taught me in fourth grade…” and she smiled and grabbed me around my neck and said she loved me and that i was always such a sweet boy. (how could i walk away from that without a full heart?) to miss. lacy who i was in love with, and the way i hoped to get in trouble so i could get some alone time with her in the hallway, and how she knew i was like this and how she combed my hair over with her hand and said, “you need to behave.” to mr. morrow, and the way i tortured him with my impishness and his goodness and patience. to mr. white and miss mcspadden and mr. wenning for dealing with my 7th and 8th grade indestructible energy. to steve smith who taught bible class and who still tells my pa to tell me hello. to his brother, john smith, who fought off cancer in front of our very eyes and kept his rye sense of humor and was still a tough teacher and no one passed without work and who liked me even though i was one of his worst students. to mr. lutz and typing class. to mr riffle who worked with me years later delivering appliances and who i really liked even though i was one of his worst students and couldn’t seem to pay attention long enough to smash the cymbals at the right time (sometimes the only time) during band. to miss christian, who cared about the ability to communicate and who thought i was talented but never blew sunshine up my ass and who helped me learn to speak with passion and clarity. to mr. fox for teaching me to sing from down deep. to coach birr who took me fishing and let me skip out on study hall by “cleaning up the football field” but i was really down the street buying donuts. to coach swanson who taught geometry in that weird room in the balcony of the auditorium and to his smart comments. to omer purdue, a good man who was my principle and also taught government and who treated me like a man and i remember him as a man. to mrs. lott who was a tough grader and helped me learn to begin to write (sorry mrs. lott, i don’t use capitals much because i’m lazy and because capitals act like they’re all important, like rich folk, and i like the common lower case letters better) and who i still think of whenever i have a disheveled notebook. coach brian and coach bird and coach twedell all who i remember with smiles because of scenarios they had to deal with when a bunch of rambunctious boys are playing and fighting and being boys.

there have been instructors since, but those early ones are farther away in time. they deserve first call. there are more words for the men who pushed me in the marine corps and at jobs and in the wild world of climbing rocks and mountains and for women who have shown me how my heart works, but i’ll save those words for some other time. for now, i’ll simply smile and tip my hat (if i can find it) to my teachers. big, ornery, loud, respectful love to them all.