Marie Smysor Watson
Nostalgia Is A Powerful Drug
"I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." John Steinbeck
My junior high English teacher died this past week at the age of ninety. Yep, that's her in this week's cover picture. Funny, I thought she was OLD back then, but she was barely sixty (which is extremely old when you are only 12 or 13, so I absolve my younger self of that little bit of age-ism). Like most kids, I never told how much I enjoyed her classes. Like most adults, I forgot to tell her when I got old enough to appreciate her everyday kindnesses. And she was so very kind, Vivian Justice, formerly of Cuba Junior High School.
For those of you who purchased my book, you'll recognize the name. I didn't even bother changing it - she was Mrs. Justice, Maybe's favorite English teacher. I thought I'd send her a copy so she could see her name in print - you know, when I got around to it - and so she'd know how her gentle insistence that I keep writing would light a flame inside of me that still burns thirty years later.
I'm sure you can guess how this story ends. I didn't send the book right away, so I can only have faith that her teacher's heart knew how much sway she had over lives like mine and how I still think of her dancing along with us to Vanilla Ice every time I hear"Ice, Ice Baby." Don't ask - junior high was a strange time.
So in honor of Mrs. Justice, I'm posting a few of my very early writing samples. I haven't found anything from her class specifically as of yet, but I'm still looking. And after you're done reading, don't forget to thank your former teachers, especially the ones who guided you to be your true selves.
Also a BIG shout-out to my folks who held onto these gems from my childhood!