Teach Your Children Well

January 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm (That's not funny..., Waxing Nostalgic)

Sometimes I think I’m a bit psychic. Maybe the universe has a subtle way of communicating things that we don’t understand. Maybe I’m just prone to coincidence.

The other day I was passing the time with Dr T at work. He’d mentioned how his first fifth of Jameson was given to him by his high school English teacher, and we laughed about how these days the teacher would be crucified, but in those days it was almost a rite of passage to drink with your teacher, providing you were a good student, mature, etc… (That sentence makes it sound like *I* was the one drinking with my English teacher, but I digress.) His story brought to mind one of my favorite teachers, Mr Magmer.

He taught journalism at Portland Community College. At the end of each spring semester, he would have a party for the outgoing students. I was taking photo journalism and working for the school newspaper, The Bridge. Part of my duties involved being available for quick photo shoots, so I hung around the paper’s office, and sat in on many of his classes.

Mr Magmer had a dry wit; it was hard to tell if he was gunning for you or pulling your leg. He taught us well, and when the end-of-term party was organized, I was invited! Although I was only seventeen, I was welcomed to come and drink with the adults. I was polite, well-behaved, and even helped bounce a bunch of party-crashers from the neighborhood when they came bearing cases of beer, thinking it was ‘a kegger.’ I left school soon after, and lost touch with Mr Magmer.

An hour or two after I had my conversation with Dr T, I got around to reading the day’s newspaper. It was an eerie feeling when I came across Mr Magmer’s obituary, just moments after discussing him. Weird how things like that happen. Memo from the cosmos…

We’ll miss you Jim, those of us who learned at your knee, so to speak. Thanks for having the faith in me to treat me like an adult, at I time when I needed it most.

RIP James Magmer, age 86.

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