Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, May 4, 2012

At that podium again ...

view from the podium (sans students!)
It was a little strange this morning, being back in the Chapel at Western Reserve Academy (I retired from the school a year ago).  The Headmaster had invited me to talk to a Morning Meeting (all-school assembly, about a half-hour), and so I went.  And talked about the obsession some of us share--of reading a writer's complete works.  A lot of the students had read Hunger Games and Twilight and Lord of the Rings and, of course, Harry Potter.

I wove together the stories of my finally yielding to Harry Potter Mania and reading those seven novels and my ten-year journey through the forty-seven novels of Anthony Trollope (I'll write about him another day.)

The Chapel is a historic and historical building.  So many famous folks have spoken there, including Emerson and Frederick Douglass.  (Who most manifestly did not tremble in their graves when they got the word--through a literal grapevine--that I would be talking today.)  I first spoke there in the winter of 1979--about a recent movie, The Exorcist.

And when I returned to the school (fall 2001) after retiring from Aurora Middle School (January 1997), I spoke there many times, usually at the Morning Meetings but sometimes on more formal occasions, too.  Twice I spoke at what used to be called baccalaureate (but is now Senior Celebration).  Usually, what I said was not too weighty.

There were silly poems about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, a dumb piece about what sorts of things people write in the guest book at Panera, parodies of famous poems.  Once--years ago--the students performed a "play" I wrote with some other students; our clever title--WRA and Peace.  (Get it?  Get it?)

Sometimes I talked about writers I liked (poet Edwin Arlington Robinson) or an influential person.  One of the great surprises I pulled on my wife, Joyce, was when she came to hear me a few years ago, never dreaming that she was the topic of the day!  (She took it well--even when I sang (it was near my 64th birthday) the old Beatles' song "When I'm Sixty-Four.")

It was a great opportunity for me--an honor really--having access to that podium--that audience--now and then.  The students and faculty were uniformly welcoming--even today, when fully a fourth of the student body had no idea who I am.  (We gotta listen to another old guy ramble on and on ... it's so freakin hot today!)  And it was (freakin' hot): By the end, perspiration was rolling down my forehead, heading for my moustache and beard (I know: TMI.).  For one of the few times in my life I thought how pleasant it would be to get hit in the face with a snowball.

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