Friday, August 19, 2011

Mrs. Mintz

Lately, those of us who hail from Rockmart have been enjoying remembering our school days. In particular, there have been quite a few memories related to one of our junior high school teachers, Mrs. Leonora Mintz. Looking back, I think she was probably one of the best that public school had to offer at a time when we all went to public schools and very few had any options otherwise. Mrs. Mintz taught English and seemed to love poetry. So, we all had to memorize some of what I assume were her favorites. I suppose there were some who liked it but I think most of us dreaded the thought of standing in front of the class trying to recite those darned poems. How many thousands of times she must have listened to those same lines being badly recited over the years and maybe there were times that she had a few doubts about continuing to try to get eighth graders to love something that she loved. But we memorized and we recited and we survived. Now, what's being recalled on FB are those poems and I smile to realize that of all the lessons learned, what I have mostly retained are those snippets of poetry. Those poems somehow have had a lasting impact on my life and I suspect others' lives as well. When times were tough, we remembered to be the "master of my fate and the captain of my soul" and when winter comes, we remember "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening..." and summer brings "a poem as lovely as a tree" to mind. We didn't think there would be any value whatsoever to committing those lines to memory. What possible use would they have out there in the real world? But now I look back and I realize that the poems are like old friends who wander through my thoughts and have kept me company throughout the years. Thank you, Mrs. Mintz for somehow knowing this and giving me this wonderful gift that seemingly will last forever.

"Trees" by Joyce Kilmer (1986 - 1919)
"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1903)
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost (1874 -1963)