September 5 has been designated Teachers' Day, causing us to remember notable pedagogues of the past.
There was Miss Madge Martin, running wildly 'round and 'round the room, chalk in hand, to define infinity. There was Mr. Easson, the science teacher who ate bugs and chalk and sat on the window ledge so he could smoke during class. Miss E.G. Pye (the initials, students believed, stood for "Eat Good") who convinced us to make salads of lawn clippings for our parents, and taught students to swim, stretched on a plank in the waterless classroom.
Then there were the French teachers: tiny Miss Irwin, who had the class begin each day reciting the Lord's Prayer in French ("Notre pere, qui es aux cieux...") and Murray Robinson, who also coached football, and liked to enter the classroom singing "Darling, je vous aime beaucoup."
A nod, as well, to L.C. Nelson, the feared math instructor, who wore a shiny black suit daily through the fall and winter terms, switching to a wilted grey for spring and summer."Yes, class," he would announce, "Mr. Nelson does own two suits." It was like seeing the first robin.
So a toast to all teachers, especially those with a true gift, chalk dust in their veins. Apple cider would make an appropriate toast.