Just ran across this today when looking through and scanning more old photos.

This was from a science fair in March of 1969, photo by me.

On the left is Mr. Nauman, who I had for 8th grade Earth Science (and I think 9th grade as well). Despite the very unfortunate name, that course gave me really my best chemistry lab experience.  We had a lab test where we had to identify unknown messes using a variety of techniques. Obviously the unknowns had to be chosen to fit our abilities!  But it let me actually apply the things we’d learned in unknown situations and see that they actually worked. And he’s still alive as recently as 2007. I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if he made a big deal of his Christianity in class, and I didn’t, so that’s very good. Mr. Nauman was still a dedicated ping-pong player in 2007; I believe he was one of the teachers that played with students after school and during free periods, including me. That’s where I started to play seriously, and got good enough to play doubles (doubles ping-pong requires very well-matched players and teams, or else the games are short and no fun). He’s also the one who got me started in computers; he loaned me the book he’d used to learn Fortran in a course that summer, and suggested I could use the highschool computer lab. I never saw him doing anything in the computer center, though.

In the middle is Mr. Wolf (Kermit Wolf, not the one in the Carleton math department of the time). I took Geometry from him, and didn’t like him much, but liked Geometry fine. That’s where I first met formal proofs, and that was good. It appears that he died around the time I graduated from college. Also that he was an avid camera fan, which I somehow never noticed (although I became more visible in highschool, the next year; but my 9th grade English teacher noticed my photography enough to hire me to do portraits for her and her husband). And was involved in firearms safety training, which I think I knew (I didn’t get involved until after college). AND he took his family to see Apollo 11 blast off.

I’m sorry to say I don’t recall who the man on the right is, though I do think he was a teacher in Northfield.

When I was in school, I had a lot of social interaction with teachers, including going by after school to discuss things with various of them (I mean recreationally, not relating to classroom work). But, when I left each school, I never particularly looked back, and made no effort to keep in touch with former teachers.  My father was very good at keeping in touch with former students, but I don’t think I was rebelling against that; I rather admired that. I just had this habit of my social life just happening, rather than it being something I worked to accomplish specific goals in. The people who hung out in the computer center, and dorm floor socializing, and Minn-StF meetings and parties, and such; stuff I went to, and saw people at.  And at this point it’s been long enough that they’re mostly retired, if not dead.  So that’s going to have to remain a regret that I can’t do anything about.

While I’m on about that generation of my teachers, here are a few more.

Mr. Bundy taught me 8th grade English, and was my first class in the morning. He would bring me a good stack of SF paperbacks from his collection on Monday morning, which I would read during the week (not in class, and in addition to assigned reading for class).  He clearly had quite a good personal collection, he must have been a serious reader or fan. He also read some of Beowulf to us in the original. (Poul Anderson’s mother lived near town; in fact she rented the old farm house on Kenny May’s property for a while.)

Mrs. Eckert taught 9th grade English. In addition to hiring me to shoot portraits, she also asked me to write a computer program to score multiple-choice tests.  I did versions in three dialects (of two languages), and we used a later version for 10th grade Biology finals as well.  I wrote the program instead of really taking the English grammar unit (I did read the book), which she didn’t think I needed. I used similar methods for my science fair project on ESP (in particular, having people punch their answers manually into Porta-Punch cards).

Mr. Gary taught 8th grade shop. I learned enough sheet-metal work to design and build a model rocket launch console, and also shop fixtures for a model rocket store (like engine dispensers). I ran a model rocket store in partnership with Mr. Gary for a while; we stocked Estes and Century rockets and engines. That was when Minnesota first added a sales tax, and I had a sales tax license for the store.  I got email from him sometime in the 21st century I think, and he seemed to remember me, too.

Now, I don’t remember the name of the guy who taught 9th grade shop.  I’m sure my lettering disappointed him in drafting class.  But what I mostly remember is that he didn’t understand the algebraic transformations I made on the formula he gave us for computing “board-feet” of lumber, even though it was just basic 8th-grade algebra.  This was one of those cases where I got the right number, but he didn’t understand how, and couldn’t understand the explanation.

(I wasn’t in the USA the year I should have been in 7th grade, so no teachers for that; my junior high career was just 8th and 9th grade.)

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