Friday, May 28, 2010

Surrounded by The Remarkable

It has been observed that fathers become clearer with the distance of time. I think that can be said of many people.

Some charismatic individuals will seize your attention immediately. I had lunch with such a person years ago and can still recall his insights, quips, and asides. He was truly fascinating. It is hard to miss certain qualities when a personality projects as easily as a smoothly hit home run.

With other people, however, years may have to pass before you realize what an extraordinary person was in your life. I recall a great aunt of mine who, after leaving Sawpit, Colorado, got her degree and started teaching school in Glendale, Arizona shortly after the First World War. She volunteered to teach a class that was mainly Mexican American and taught herself Spanish in order to teach English to her students. She captained their baseball team, umpired games, and gained unending affection from a legion of students over the years. (She later recalled a boy named Marty Robbins who squandered much of his time practicing the guitar.) After the First World War, she corresponded with and sent money to French orphans.

When she reached the mandatory retirement age in her district, she moved out to a small Arizona mining town that needed teachers and taught there. As a child, I used to have long political discussions with her - talks that I miss to this day - but I didn't realize what an extraordinary person was in the room.

Now I can see that my life has been filled with such people.


Diane Diekman said...

Which school did she teach in Glendale, high school or grade school? Martin David Robinson attended both. He wasn't Marty Robbins then, and he didn't play a guitar in school. I'm writing his biography, and I'd love to talk to anyone who knew him back then.

Michael Wade said...


That's a very interesting project. My great aunt passed away many years ago. I know that one of the schools where she taught is now named Isaac Imes Elementary School, which is named after her brother.

Please keep me informed on the progress of your project. I've been active with the Arizona Historical Society's Central Arizona Chapter and we've discussed having a program on Arizona-related musicians such as Marty Robbins, Alice Cooper, and Duane Eddy.


Mary Jo Asmus said...

Michael, I loved this post. I believe we are all surrounded by remarkable people. Sometimes it takes maturity to see it, but more often it takes a great dialog, asking good open ended questions and deep listening to see just how remarkable the people in our lives are.

Thanks for a great reflection on someone who meant a lot to you.

Michael Wade said...

Mary Jo,

Thank you so much for your kind comments. We are indeed surrounded by remarkable people. They are there, waiting for our discovery.