Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mr. Herlihy

I have three or four memorable teachers from my High School days – virtually all of them because of their sense of humor. I guess that must have left an impression on me because I find I’m constantly interjecting humor into my professional training and the undergraduate college class that I teach as an Adjunct.

Horace S. Herlihy was my high school physics teacher in my junior year. We were all crazy about him because he had a sharp sense of humor – a real quick wit and a casual teaching style. He was also the school’s track coach and would show his physics classes old black & white track films to illustrate the various laws of physics. Much more entertaining than those drab old science films created by some institutional studio (anyone remember those torturous 15 or 30 minute bits of celluloid?).

But Mr. Herlihy was one of my favorites because of his distain for authority. The Science Department chair at that time was a competent, but somewhat stuffy fellow who ruled with a bit of militaristic flair. Mr. Herlihy would refer to him as the Great White Father, or “GWF” (pronounced “gu-wiff”). “Listen you knuckeleheads, you’d better not make me look bad in front of the GWF, or else.” If I didn’t have these short French-Canadian legs I think I would have gone out for Track, just so I could have called him “Coach.”

1 comment:

Gringo said...

Two years ago a classmate I've known all my life was in town on business. We got together for an visit at a restaurant that extended for five hours.

Among the topic we discussed were our teachers. In the middle of our conversation, another restaurant patron stopped by our table and informed us that as she was a teacher, she liked hearing our memories of our teachers. Most of our teacher memories were good ones.

OTOH, last year I had dinner with another classmate when I was visiting my home town. One of us mentioned one of our teachers, who had taught 40 years. My classmate said that at our high school reunion, only one person had a good opinion of that teacher.