Dawn Reader

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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Too Many 50s in My Life ...

Four years ago I celebrated my 50th high school graduation. Went to the events. Had a good time. Reconnected with some folks I hadn't seen in a half-century. Grieved for those who had not lived long enough to celebrate with us.

This year, it's the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Hiram College, but I'm not planning to go. Enough is enough.

But the other day, as Joyce and I were off on one of our wonted evening drives, I recalled that another 50 was upon me: the 50th anniversary of the commencement of my teaching career. Aurora Middle School; Aurora, Ohio; fall of 1966.

And that conversation reminded me of one of the oddest nights I've ever spent.

But let's pause first. A little background ...

As I said, I graduated from Hiram in 1966, the same year my younger brother graduated from high school and was about to set off for Harvard to begin his own collegiate career. My dad, who had taught at Hiram since 1956, and my mom, who'd recently completed her Ph.D. (she'd been teaching English at nearby James A. Garfield HS in Garrettsville), had accepted jobs at Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa), where they moved that summer of 1966. My older brother, already in grad school (Harvard), had left home a few years before.

So ... not only was I about to begin my own teaching career, I was about to be living without family for the first time in my life. It was some daunting combination of depression and elation. I'm on my own! combined with I'm alone! I was twenty-one years old.

Anyway, I'd originally planned to go to grad school at the University of Kansas and work on a Ph.D. in American Studies; I'd been accepted, but then ... no scholarship money (not that I deserved any). How could I manage? (I couldn't.) My parents made no financial offers (they already would be having two sons at Harvard ... the Bucks were Big for that, I'm sure). So ...

Along the bumpy road of my undergraduate studies (?), I had managed to become certified to teach English in Ohio's secondary schools, and, fortunately, I'd applied for two jobs (got two interviews, took the first offer--Aurora). And there I was in the spring of 1966, employed. And basically clueless.

Here's an image of my first teaching contract, dated May 18, 1966. Almost exactly a half-century ago. It's now framed on my study wall.  If you click on the image and enlarge it, you'll see my salary for that year (1966-67) was $5100. I thought I was rich--until, of course, I got my first semi-monthly paycheck: $168.42.

To be continued ...

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