Mr. Stoeri wore crooked ties and mismatched socks, his untamed brown curls pillow-flattened on one side, and daily brown corduroys worn thin by March. He strummed the banjo and sang One Tin Soldier, If Wishes Were Changes, The Squid Jiggers— as we sat cross-legged, joyfully gaping, awaiting his big nod to follow. Above us the ceiling drooped with fish nets, stuffed creatures improbably named Sweet Honey, Chortle, Dr. Bob— trapped by stories. And in the corner stood a garage sale altar for records and a suitcase turntable. Saturday Night Fever? America? We bickered about our favorites, "runnin’ from a man called the sandman" over and over until he burst like a fervent firework in theatrical performance, swooping to intervene with Bob Dylan or Simon and Garfunkel dialed down to a whisper. To those harmonies we crawled under tables and into bean bags and enchanted pages or folded ourselves over notebooks, concocting rambling, fantastical, outrageous sentences with the Wykie Words of the Week in competition for the coveted Golden Paperclip Award, its talisman pasted to a piece of construction paper and affixed to the wall— Respect its power! Don’t stare! Retina damage! He shrieked like a homeless man as we laughed and tempted fate, fixing our eyes dramatically on the tiny bent wire that he had divined. After lunch, to settle us, he read with wizardry a daily installment of The Hobbit Or Jabberwocky atypically pronounced. And if we listened attentively we could act it out tomorrow— We could jyray in the wabee with the outgrabee mome raths, circling round him in ritual veneration. Like in the photo I googled last week, his hair now a thin white puff, his face alight in a circle of fourth grade delight on a hand-made loft under a peace sign at the ceiling of a classroom in a distant state where, 36 years and 900-some minds later, he still charms the children from tedium into rapture.
2 years ago
I have been looking for my favorite elementary school teacher, and this must be the same !r. Stoeri I had. This brought back such great memories! Do you know how to get in contact with him? I would love to thank him!
2 years ago
A truly beautiful poem, Angie. Thanks so much for writing it.