(Rehoboth Beach, DE)
Yep, everybody has one. No, I’m not talking about opinions and I’m certainly not talking about that other thing that I know some of you are thinking about. I’m talking about a favorite teacher. We all remember a teacher that somehow made a great impression on us.
I went to Oak Grove Elementary and Junior High School.
(Picture taken by Brian Donahue and used with permission)
My favorite teacher of all time is my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Len Keller.
I found Mr. Keller on Facebook two and a half years ago and wrote him an email. Since then we’ve talked on the phone several times and emails fly back and forth several times a week.
I’d like to share that email I sent him. (I’ve deleted last names of my classmates)
OMG...I can't believe I found you! I have searched for you on the Internet before but couldn't find you. I have looked in phone books when in PA, but didn't know what town you were in. YOU were always my favorite teacher. I remember the first day of school and I was scared to death of you because I had never had a "man teacher" before and had no idea what to expect.
I was a student of yours in Oak Grove Elementary when I was in the 5th grade. You knew me back then by my given name, not my nickname Snookie and back then I wasn't a Quinn. Gosh, you mean to tell me you didn't recognize me from my Facebook picture? MR. KELLER! I'm crushed!
Ok, enough with the suspense, back then, in school, I was known as Mary Lou Rhoads. Some of my classmates that year were Letty H., Kathy D., Donna M., John P., Norman M., Billy S., and Mike M. to name a few.
If I remember correctly, you have a son named Christopher, you married Helen, or maybe you didn't and because of obvious reasons I can't get that name out of my head. Our class met her when you took us to Philadelphia to see "How the West Was Won".....in technicolor! Also that day we went to see the Liberty Bell and you bought a little replica bell and used it in the classroom to call the fish in the fish tank to the corner for feeding. That was when you explained Pavlov's Dogs to us.
I got my first D on my report card that year. I'm much better at fractions now!
This was the year you used the word "hell" and we all gasped. A group had done something with one of the bulletin boards and it wasn't very good by anyone's standards and when you saw it you responded with a very real grownup reaction, "That looks like hell." We didn't think you'd ever stop apologizing, after all, we used much worse on the playground.
I think my most memorable memory of you is that, because of you, I never, ever misspelled the word separation. I remember many of us had gotten it wrong on a spelling test, spelling it,,,, seperation,,,,and to drive your point home you wrote it on the blackboard in fairly large letters and put this HUGE capital A where we had all written that e.
S E P A R A T I O N Thank you Mr. Keller!
So there it is, I have found my all time favorite teacher. Now, do you remember me? If not, lie to me and tell me you do and that I am your all time favorite student! Ok, maybe not the last part, I guess that's pushing it. However, I do know that I was one of your favorite students that year. How do I know that? Because you always picked me to roll up your sleeves on your long sleeve shirts. AND....you gave ME the newspaper to read your engagement announcement to the class. So I was one of your favorites ...right? RIGHT?????
So, I grew up, graduated, worked for awhile, went into the "family business" the National Guard, met my husband, got married, helped raise his two sons, worked some more, he retired early, I quit, we sold the house and now are full time RV'ers. And what have you been doing for the last 46 years?
That's right, we are nomads, gypsies, trailer trash, whatever you want to call it. We are livin' the dream! We are presently in Arizona, sunny, warm Arizona,,,,oh, I'm sorry, that was mean, you back there in the east with all that snow, What's that saying???? Sucks to be you! Seriously, we are truly livin' our dream. We spend our winters here and travel the rest of the time,. Last summer we were in Alaska.
I write a blog and you are welcome to read it, you won't find separation misspelled once! Of course I don't even know if I used the word separation at all. You can google my name, Snookie Quinn, or just click on this handy link I've provided here. The Quinn's Awesome Journey If you have the time, I would suggest that you read the blog from the beginning. It's been a helluva trip and I think you might get a chuckle or two along the way. Oh yeah, I'm an easy read too.
So Mr. Keller, oh wait, I'm fifty six years old, I don't have to call you Mr. Keller anymore!
Lenny! Lenny baby! Hey Len!...... Just doesn't seem right.... So Mr. Keller, how has life treated you? I'd love to hear back from you.
Snookie (aka Mary Lou)
Well, actually, he insisted that I don’t call him Mr. Keller anymore and more often than not I’ll start my emails out as “Lenny Baby” or he’ll answer my email and sign off as Lenny Baby. We’re having lots of fun with this.
So why am I bringing this whole favorite teacher thing up? Because after 48 years we had the pleasure of spending an evening together.
Len didn’t stick with teaching but instead went into the business of selling school textbooks. He loved the job so much that he’s still doing it and refuses to retire.
Business brought him to Dover, Delaware this week and he decided to stay over an extra day so that Bob and I could meet him for dinner.
He fondly remembered a great seafood buffet he had years before so we agreed to meet at the Rusty Rudder Restaurant in Dewey Beach.
Bob and I hadn’t been to this restaurant in years. Dewey is typically a twenty-something beach town but since everyone has gone back to college and it was during the week so those working were home doing their employment thing, it was practically a ghost town.
Len was waiting out front for us and it was so wonderful to meet him once again. I still see the man that taught me when I ten years old in the man I see today at fifty nine.
Introductions were made and we went in to our table. Bob and Len hit it off right away and talked about so many things. Len envies us our lifestyle, especially the time we get to spend in Arizona, his favorite state.
The buffet was very good and the men thoroughly enjoyed the raw bar.
The restaurant sits right at the water’s edge and the deck faces west. It made for a beautiful sunset.
The two and a half hours we spent together flew by like two and a half minutes. We agreed we would meet up again next summer when Len travels out west.
Oh, before I forget. The son he had I thought was named Christopher? Turns out he’s a Charles. Len did in fact marry Helen and with the last name of Keller they thought it best she go by her middle name Brenda. Some things I remembered correctly, others, eh, not so much.
Of course we had to take pictures.
Lenny Baby, you made this trip home all the more special and I thank you for making this reunion of ours happen. We can’t wait to spend time with you next summer.
Len Keller….my all time favorite teacher.