Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
Location
Florida, United States
Birthday
April 27
Bio
One woman's view of life and the universe. Follow @katriord on Twitter.

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JANUARY 18, 2013 4:59PM

Deadwood

Rate: 17 Flag

tumbleweed

 

I don't know who would play him in a film version. Anthony Hopkins, maybe. Clint Eastwood.  


At the front of that classroom was a lectern, with a thesaurus tucked inside. It was the first place I ever encountered a thesaurus, or a comma splice. Or a sentence fragment.
 
Deadwood, he'd tell us. Cut out the deadwood. Get that essay down to a page. Remove everything unnecessary.
 
Almost all of the writing we did for Harvey Graham in grades nine through twelve at Big Piney High School in a cold corner of Wyoming was penned in the classroom. He seemed out of kilter for a Wyoming guy, almost Edwardian, very formal, single nearly into his forties then married the Home Ec teacher. That he was a person of greater complexity who enjoyed life and lived it fully was never in doubt.
 
He wanted us to write. He wanted us to succeed. But comma splices and sentence fragments were an automatic 'F.' So it was no surprise that on my first day in his classroom, that's what I received.

I stayed after class to ask him about it. It never happened again.

I rather imagined that one day the acknowledgments in a book I'd written would credit the two men who taught me how to write. Harvey T. Graham. Larry Grant Best.

One picked up where the other started.

Now both are gone.  

The two men who taught me how to write and gave me a love for writing are gone now, thesauruses and comma splices and sentence fragments, sonnets and essays, all gone. The book is back in the lectern, closed.

I don't know who would play him in a film version. Anthony Hopkins, maybe. Clint Eastwood.  
 
Gregory Peck.  
 
 
 Picture 22
 
Picture 20 
 
Picture 21  
 
Picture 19 
  

 
(photos courtesy 1968 and 1972 Puncher yearbooks, Big Piney (Wyoming) High School)
 



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Comments

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A great teacher is a true hero. Nice to see your teachers honored here.
Nice remembrance. He taught you well. R
Enjoyed your piece. Reminds me of a beloved former writing professor who is since passed but left an indelible print on my heart.
I was sorry to learn earlier today that Harvey Graham, former long-time English teacher at Big Piney High School in Big Piney, Wyoming, passed away last night. Harvey's legacy as a teacher in Southwest School District #9 cannot be underestimated. He will be missed.
Few English classes teach writing at all now. I still remember Mrs. Syburg, sophomore year. I learned so much from her. Thanks for letting me remember her.
What a lovely tribute. I am certain he would be pleased that you have followed his advice and become a fine writer.
He would be proud.
Married to the Home Ec teacher? That means he got lots of those fine Home Ec brownies. Brownies, Wyoming, students like you, that sounds like a good life.
Christine Hall....English I, II, IV....explained to me that I had verbosis...too many words. I still have it. What great teachers -- you remind me of how important they really are.
They would be proud of you for sure. I don't know about comma splicing. In fact punctuation is as much a mystery to me as spelling, or more since I discovered some of my misspellings are actually French or British spellings.

You really are a very fine writer, Kathy, and I like you're as good at topics as you are at titles, and that says a lot.
Great teachers are worth remembering!
Kathy, were you his star pupil in the year you had him. Don't be shy as I bet you were!R
I had him for all four years of high school, Wendy.
You have the heart and soul of something very special.
........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
☼•*¨`*•.¸.(ˆ◡ˆ).¸.•*
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★R
I came, I read, I liked ; thankyou :-)
There.
Broke just about every rule, but until you learn them you can't break them either, can you ?
Bless his soul. I'd go Daniel Day-Lewis, myself.
Somewhere a once-teacher's eyes are misting ... even as they smile ...
May they rest in peace. But I don't think they're gone - their teachings still live on, in your own beautiful writing.
Larry Best was my Freshman Honors English professor in college. He had curly brunette permed hair and moustache (very '70's) and a quick wit. He loved to drink Dr. Pepper, which was then against the Honor Code at BYU. Sadly, he died several years later of AIDS, after a fairly public coming out and leaving of his wife and children. He was a terrific teacher and friend, and like Harvey Graham, believed in me, believed I could write and write well, and influenced me far beyond the time I spent in the classroom.