Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mrs. Joyce Calhoun

Here is my vote for one of the most influential EHHS teachers in my life. Mrs. Joyce Calhoun. She was a fairly obscure typing teacher and maybe of some other office-related subjects that I no longer recall—if ever I knew what they might have been. During my secondary education my father made but one academic recommendation that I clearly recall and that was to be sure to take a typing course.

I think it was about the Junior year that I took Mrs. Calhoun’s one-semester typing course. The room was filled with older manual typewriters and about 4 IBM Selectrics with that neat little ball head. Everyone wanted the electrics, but there were only four. Beyond the endless, “fgf, fgf, fgf, fgf, and jhj, jhj, jhj, jhj,” exercises and some timed typing speed tests, I remember little about the course. However, it’s the few things that I do remember that made a huge difference in my life.

Mrs. Calhoun encouraged us to be neat and accurate with our typing work. She said, “That letter or paper you submit for someone else to read will represent you. Be sure that it represents how you want to be viewed.” For some reason her words stuck in my head and all during my adult life I have been very careful to make sure my written work is correct and represents how I want myself to be viewed. That’s a powerful lesson to have emanated from one obscure typing teacher.

There is one other important thing that taking the obscure Mrs. Calhoun’s obscure typing class yielded. When typewriters gave way to computers and printers, for me and I’m sure for many others who had learned touch typing, the transition to computer keyboards was seamless. Not so for those who never took that little typing course. Over the years I have seen many very talented people who never learned how to type, struggle with how to get along with their computers—top level engineers reduced to a hunt and peck keyboard entry style and such. Contrast that with someone who can type at 40-60+ words per minute and you can see how the difference in productivity can be striking.

Thanks for the advice, Dad. Thanks for the course, Mrs. Calhoun.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Coaches

George Mitcham, James Willingham, and Dub Graves were the entire coaching staff for Varsity football during our years at EHHS. Coach Willingham also coached the track team, and Coach Graves coached baseball. Ron McBee was the basketball team coach and also coached the JV football teams. Johnny Howerton replaced McBee sometime during our years at EHHS, as McBee went to another job—building houses, I think.

Mitcham was a quiet spoken, not too forceful type, while we nicknamed Willingham, Coach Roaringham. He had a booming, raspy voice that he relied on for crowd control. Graves was the jock of the trio, as he had an athletic build and kept himself in top physical shape while the others seemed to be trending into the more sedate life style of married life. They were married, Graves was not.

In reading the 1962 football brochure, I see that Mitcham and Graves graduated from Poly the same year, so they must have played on the same football team about 1945 or 1946. Both of them were All-District backs. That’s odd. I recall them as not being very close. Mitcham had the bearing of an organization manager, while Graves did not. However, Graves was the better athlete. Willingham seemed unfazed by either of them and simply went about his business coaching the lines. They were all good coaches and good examples.

During our Senior year, the school’s 4th, we won the district football championship, the first in the school’s then short history, and posted a 7-4 overall won-lost record. To say we had no offense would be an understatement. Our total season scoring averaged about 1-point more per game than we allowed our opponents. We had a good defense, though—some of our opponents had very good offenses that could have posted some very high scores were it not for our good defense.

During our football season, the Cuban Missile Crisis played out. I vaguely recall some of the girls rushing about, half in earnest, looking for a quickie marriage, I suppose not wanting to . . . well, if you were watching the news then, it did appear that we might not survive much longer and they probably felt that some things postponed, needed to be done. One of my neighbors was recalled with his Army Reserve unit and shipped to Florida for several months as part of a potential invasion force. I think there were about 100,000 of our soldiers assembled in south Florida that fall.

While not coaching, Mitcham watched over some study halls, Willingham taught American History, and Graves watched over some P.E. classes. Coach Graves might have been pressed into teaching some history as well—I don’t recall for certain.