|Senior picture (1959)|
When I was a senior in high school I had a terrific Calculus teacher who taught me more about math than all the math teachers I have ever had.
Mr. Mattheis was fairly short and built himself a riser on which to stand while teachingt a lesson. This made him seem a little strange to most students, but not to me. When we arrived in class the lesson was already on the board and he would take a long wooden pointer to draw attention to the part of the lesson he was discussing.
Being slight of stature didn’t keep Mr. Mattheis from maintaining discipline in his class. No, I don’t think it was because he wielded a long stick; it was because he played a game he called base ball. He was fair, never lost his temper, or raised his voice. He would just call out strikes whenever a student’s behavior went over the line. On strike three the student would automatically advance to the principal’s office and be assigned detention.
I loved to talk in class (oh, lets face it, I loved to talk, period) and one day I reached the ultimate third strike. While in detention I wrote Mr. Mattheis this poem, which he framed and kept on his wall until he retired, many years later.
Standing on your pedestal, so wise, so tall, so straight,
On that lovely pedestal made of an orange crate.
Standing there so wisely with a stick cluched in your hand,
Like a stone director about to strike, up the band.
What’s this you’re looking my way and I smile a sheepish smile,
I wasn’t talking very long, just for a little while.
You slowly turn and point an accusing finger at me,
And calmly say with a clear sweet voice, st-r-i-k-e three.
I slowly rise from my usual place,
Slowly rise with a dismal face,
I began to argue that I was not,
Then to the office I did trot.
Oh wise and wondrous world what fate have you bestowed on me,
To be ruled (in this class) by dictatorship and not democracy.