People Who Mattered

 

On the road…again!!!
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek

 

Self-Quiz About People Who Mattered

 

In an exercise of introspection about who and how some people in his life influenced him, the Footloose Forester first started with a copied list of salient issues about categories of influencers in life.  The anonymous author posted the original list on a social media site, with the purported purpose of shining a light on the importance of teachers in society.

The quiz drafted by the author contained the following prompts:

[the quiz]  See how you do with these 6 questions:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

The lesson . . .The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Sure, some names and some answers came up in each category but in retrospect with lifelong continuity pertaining to a career, it was the teachers who provided the most meaningful influences.

The draft of a proposed chronicle sat idly in the computer notes of the Footloose Forester until the name of Gary Hartshorn came up through an inquiry via Artificial Intelligence.  But until his name was added to the nascent list, here is what the Footloose Forester had written about teachers:

 

Sister Rosario was always cheerful, but Sister Ursula the Principal was always sober and strict.  They were memorable because they were there in that 1st and 2nd Grade classrooms at St. Michael’s School in Netcong, New Jersey in the mid and late 1940s.

 

Teachers who mattered started in grammar school

In high school there were many teachers that I remember but Mrs. Stuart Inglis was my favorite.  She was strict and steadfast and molded her students into college bound hopefuls.  English and Latin were her subjects and she was a perfectionist in her approaches.  If you got a good grade in her class it was because she made you earn it.  I dated the oldest daughter of Mrs. Parliament who taught French and Spanish.  She was also a friend, as was her husband who helped me financially during my college years.

In college, John Andresen was a graduate student who was working towards his Ph.D. but he was also a brilliant teacher in Dendrology and Silvics. One day he showed up dressed in the uniform of an U.S. Army Major… he was, on that day, on his way to a US Army Reserve meeting.  Ben Stout, who succeeded him, also taught Dendrology and Forest Management, but the thing I most admired was the fact that he spent years as a dirt forester, with some 9 years as manager of the Harvard Forest in upper New York State.  As stated in another Chronicles of a Footloose Forester, Ben Stout was my kind of guy.

In grad school, the Footloose Forester met many people who were quite humble and unassuming.  In contrast to the stereotypical pointy-headed professorial types, he was elated to learn that most of them admitted to struggling with one or more academic subjects.  Misery loves company, or so they say.

It was also in grad school in Florida, that Footloose Forester got to meet Gary Hartshorn, another grad student who was, at that time, taking time off from his own graduate studies at the University of Washington to teach a short course in tropical dendrology through the Organization for Tropical Studies at their La Selva field station in Costa Rica. The subsequent and dynamite biography of Gary Hartshorn was earned over many succeeding years but the most gratifying elements, in the view of the Footloose Forester, is the fact that three previously unknown tree species in the tropics were named after him, in recognition of his original discoveries and published papers about them.  For readers who care to check, those species were Macrolobium hartshornii; Meliosma hartshornii; and Ocotea hartshorniana. One memorable line that he uttered is forever burned into the brain of the Footloose Forester. It was about how to identify one tree species by its leaf.  Gary Hartshorn said, “you can identify this species by looking at the underside on the leaf; and notice the pellucid, peltate, punctate dots.”  Ha! What a great one-liner.

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Comments 2

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Tom Cormier on Wednesday, 24 April 2024 16:30

Quite an insightful story I must say!

Quite an insightful story I must say!
meeloun education on Thursday, 23 May 2024 02:20

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