A couple of weeks ago I talked about my favorite classes. I alluded to a history professor who made history fun for me.
So it should come as no surprise that he’s one of my favorite teachers. Dr. S was from Meridian, Mississippi. He had a deep southern drawl and looked a bit like a bloodhound, but he was smart and entertaining and if he had taught every class in college, it wouldn’t have taken me six years to graduate.
He taught Renaissance and Reformation as well as Ancient History. He never brought notes with him, just his mug of coffee and his glasses. He’d enter the room with a thoughtful look on his hound dog face and ask someone in the front row for their notes from the previous class.
He’d pull out his glasses, look over the notes and then away we went, to the time of the Spanish Inquisition (I learned some really disgusting, yet awesome forms of torture), the Reformation (where the monks were called “pretty boys” and the nuns were “pretty mamas”), the time of Ancient Egypt. I soaked it in like a little sponge and wrote great reports for this professor. He made me want to learn as much as I could. And he did it all without opening a single text-book, or writing a single word on the board.
Sure, he had the absent-minded professor thing down. He was late to class one morning and we all looked at each other in that hopeful “maybe we can get out of class” way, but he sauntered through the door looking befuddled.
“I went to the wrong class. I started talking, but when I realized it was a math class, I got out as soon as I could.”
How could you not adore a professor like that? He couldn’t remember where his class was, what time it was, but he remembered his history and he remembered me. Oh, he couldn’t remember my name, but he did recognize me as one of his “smart people”. No lie. He referred to me and a friend (who also adored this man) as “those two smart people”. I know, he was so right 😉
I loved Dr. S. He retired before I graduated and I picture him on his porch in Meridian, sipping tea, and reading books about the Spanish Inquisition and Alexander the Great. I picture him rambling on and on about history and wish I was there to listen to him.
That’s a great tribute, Danica. AND yeah, you are one of those smart people! are you gonna put some of those medieval torture devices to work in a story or two?
I went to the torture museum in London and man, it was gruesome. They even had it all dank, dingy and dark (how’s that for alliteration?) in there.
I don’t know…they were pretty awful. *shudder* of course, they stuck with me, so I’ll never be able to forget it, LOL
I must be sick because I’d probably love the torture museum, LOL
Really enjoyed reading about this professor. But while reading of your impressions of him — and your appreciation for him — I find myself wondering how others in the class felt (& acted). I can recall some college kids who would have made fun of someone like that and done their best to distract him. That would be cruel to someone with the personality of your Dr. S.
I hope you’ve had occasion over the years to tell Dr. S. how much you thought of him. I know it would be meaningful to him.
Luckily he was close enough to retirement that he got only graduate level classes, where the students were a little more mature. We respected him and his big brain. I can honestly say I don’t remember a single time someone attempted to distract him from his lectures, he was that good a storyteller.
This sounds like a fun as well as an educational class. Wish I could have had him for Washington State History. It could have been good with the right teacher.
I’m really enjoying the thread this week.
That’s just it, Lavada, the right instructor makes all the difference. When they can weave history into a story that keeps you glued to your seat…you know that instructor/professor has the talent and love for their subject.
Funny that you mentioned the math class. One of my most memorable professors was a graduate class in guess what….History of Mathematics. It was a required class and certainly more math than history. (We had to solve problems the way they did “back then” .) The professor was one of those semi-retired gentlemen who knew his stuff. Tough class, but enjoyable. Probably because in those few minutes before class officially started, there would be discussions about food and early bird specials. Dr. B introduced me to some great little non-chain restaurants back then. That and how to “solve like an Egyptian.” (And cue the Bangles…)