“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
Blog # 501 …7/14/2019
Don’t Be Too Late To. . .
His name was C. C. Tolman. He was Principal of my school. He taught, mentored, nurtured me. He didn’t know the results. I waited too long to thank him.
Paynesville Independent was the school I attended, 1st through 12th grades in the same building. It served every kid in Paynesville, MN and the surrounding farms.
I remember a day early in 1st grade where the teacher gave us a drawing of the front of a house with instructions to color half in one color and half in another. I drew a line down the center; colored one side red, the other green. I was ashamed when, according to the teacher, Stanley had correctly colored the door and window frames one color and the rest of the house another. I was “dumb and different”.
I loved reading and did it a lot. So much so it became my big difference. Our teachers were highly respected in the community. The men wore suits and ties, the women high heels, dresses, never pants/slacks. Dad and Mother told Sis and me to do our best. I got very high grades.
Mr. Tolman came into my life in 7th grade – Junior High School. He taught science and math classes. I remember him as always having grey hair, with a pleasant voice but could be stern. I loved his classes. At some point he began to mentor me without my realizing it, encouraging me to act on ideas and giving me extra books to read.
It was a time when many of us were interested in building model planes. My interest was history. The combination of these two areas blossomed into building a series of model planes showcasing the history of man’s attempt to fly. Six or seven of my class mates worked during the day in an unused classroom Mr. Tolman allowed us to use.
My grades made it possible for him to enroll me in the Junior National Academy of Science. This led to a plan to build a revolving, motor driven three-tier display of models; planes on the top, water vessels on the second and ground transportation on the bottom.
The whole motor-driven display and all components could be taken apart and transported to – you guessed it – The Annual Junior Academy of Science Convention. When we arrived, I learned I’d become convention chairman. Mr. Tolman coached me in leading and introducing all speakers.
Our exhibit won every prize it could. For me, it was a learning experience beyond compare.
In my senior year, Mr. Tolman gave me different textbooks and lab projects than my classmates. I’d later learn they were University of Minnesota freshman textbooks. Despite this, he gave me a 99 on a test at the end of the year which made me 2nd instead of 1st in graduating rank. I had left out a comma in an answer.
I respected him totally. In my thirties, I realized what a difference he’d made in my life. My wife and I journeyed back to find and thank him. Too late, he was bedridden and did not remember me. I’ve been sorry ever since.
Don’t be late to thank those who helped you and made a difference in your life.
Nuff Said !!!
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©Wesley W. Zimmerman 7/14/2019
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