Random musings—hump day

Mrs. Sublette

Patricia Sublette was my high school English teacher. I started thinking about her the other day when I read Mary of Flat Rock Creek Notebook’s reminiscence of her teacher. Mrs. Sublette was a very reserved and quiet person who rarely showed any emotion, save a small smile when something happened to please her.

My alma mater was a small country school where one did not receive a stellar education. My husband is one of the smartest people I know. He graduated from the same school, and when he went to college to major in chemical engineering, he nearly flunked out, mainly because of the lack of preparation for college that our school gave us. Most of the students who attended there had no intention of going to college. Their aspirations hardly went further than the local steel mills and coke (coal) factories, and a pay check as soon as they graduated, if they bothered to do so. We did not have AP classes (I’m not sure there even was such a thing then). We didn’t have gifted or accelerated learning classes. Everyone was all mixed together. I don’t think the teachers were inspired to push us. They probably felt they would be wasting their time.

Mrs. Sublette was from Huntington, West Virginia, which was about a thirty minute drive from our school. Because she was very quiet and non-assertive, and probably in her first couple of years of teaching, the rowdy boys in our classes sometimes gave her a hard time. I don’t remember her ever sending one of them to see the principal. I do remember once when our principal, Mr. Hayes, happened to be walking by one day when some of the boys were being disruptive. He was a strict disciplinarian and I thought he was going to tear that room apart when he saw how disrespectful the boys were being to the teacher. They behaved for quite a while after that incident.

I always sat in the front row in Mrs. Sublette’s class. I wanted to hear what she had to say. I loved grammar and literature, and she taught me more about both than I had learned in all the years before. She taught me to appreciate Shakespeare and poetry. She taught me to read a poem the proper way. I was sad when she left our school after my junior year. I never saw her again, never thanked her for making me a better student. I asked where she went, and someone in the office told me that she had gone back to West Virginia to get her master’s in English education.

I googled her name just to see if she showed up. There is a Patricia Sublette in Nitro, West Virginia, age 74. I think it might be her. It seems like the right age. I’m thinking about writing her a letter to thank her for being my teacher. What do you think?

The woman you love to hate

I watched the mini-series “Olive Kitteredge”, which is based on the novel by the same name, written by Elizabeth Strout. Olive is not a lovable person. She’s downright hateful and spiteful, disdainful of her mild-mannered husband, ridiculing of her vulnerable son. She has no tolerance for stupid people, and pretty much everyone with whom she comes into contact falls into that category, in her opinion. Well, she’s a bitch. There’s just no other word that describes her better. By the last installment, Olive changes, in minute ways, but considering her persona, they seem very large. She almost redeems herself. Frances McDormand’s performance as Olive is compelling. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Richard Jenkins as her husband is perfect. The whole mini-series is perfectly cast. I think it’s something that I will have to watch again to catch all of the nuances. I haven’t read the book yet. It’s on my list.

See you soon,

Susan

8 thoughts on “Random musings—hump day

  1. I had a Mrs. Sublette, too. Her name was Mrs. Johnson. Oh, how I loved that woman. She was one who insisted on poetry memorization. I’m so glad she did. Every now and then, a snippet comes back.

    As for writing that letter: do it. Here’s a little story. I had a professor in Berkeley I dearly loved. He taught me so much, even though I didn’t realize how much I’d been taught until much later. I kept thinking, “I need to call him, and tell him how much I appreciated his efforts.” Finally, after about 25 years, I made the call. The VERY day I called, was the day he died. In fact, he had died at home, only hours earlier. It was terrible, when his daughter answered the phone.

    Apart from the awkwardness of the situation, and the grief of having lost him, I couldn’t get over the fact that, had I just done what I wanted to do when I first thought of it, the deed would have been done. Now, there’s no way of making that call. I learned a big lesson through all that.

    Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? She’s not the right person? She doesn’t remember you? Put me down in the “Do it!” column.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Linda! That is so sad! Sometimes procrastination can lead to such heartache. At least, maybe his daughter was comforted by your words, and maybe it was meant to be that way. Maybe she needed to hear them more than he did.

      I thought I would preface my letter by saying that I’m not sure if she is the right person. I’m going to do it today. Her phone number was included in the information, but with her being such a private person, she might not like me to call her out of the blue. Thank you for the encouragement.

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  2. YESYESYESYESYES!!! Write to her, today – right now, even! A letter from a former student would be a wonderful present for her and I’m sure you’d get an response. Off to yoga, no time for more comment!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Do it. Do it now. I have a story similar to Linda’s, but I was lucky because the last time I saw Mr. Stroup, several years ago at a concert when I introduced him to Rick, I told him exactly what he had done for me and why he was, in part, the reason I did what I did career-wise. He was in Junior High so back then you NEVER know what a kid is going to be. They don’t have a clue what they’re going to be in a year or two, much less for their life. She would be thrilled to know that you write, that you hold her in great esteem.

    My Mrs. Sublette was Miss Lawry. We DID keep in touch after I left high school and somewhere I still have some of her letters. She was no young thing when I had her and taught for a few more years before retiring. Then she went on safaris and traveled the world and back to her beloved England that she taught me to love so well. Now we wouldn’t think anything of a late sixty-something or seventy-something doing that but in the 1970s, it was pretty avant garde for a single woman to world travel that way. I’m so glad I had that contact.

    Yes, tell her. Find her now.

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    • Jeanie, I took everyone’s advice and wasted no time in writing a letter, and I mailed it before I lost my nerve. 🙂 I hope it is on its way to the right Mrs. Sublette, and if not, then the lady who receives it might enjoy reading it anyway, or she might know where to find mine. It seems everyone has had at least one teacher in their lives who made a big impact. Your Miss Lawry sounds like she led a very interesting life. She WAS very avant-garde! I would like to have heard some of her stories.

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