Last Friday an email circular reminded me that I have access through the university library to lots of international newspapers, including it turns out the Washington Post, my hometown rag. Sadly not to current issues, only the historical archive up to 1991. But this allowed me to dredge up a 4-page spread on my high school and similar magnet programs for science and technology, published a couple months before we became its first graduating class.
I remembered the article quoted me a couple times, but I’d forgotten the lovely quotes from my inspirational chemistry teacher, Ethyl Mae DuBois. I’d also forgotten it included a grainy photo of us together with Kevin and Ty (Elbert), who remain good friends of mine. In senior year, we would eat our lunch every day in the chemistry lab with Ms DuBois and our other geek chic pals. Once a week we would also meet up with Ms DuBois for breakfast at Ranch House, the local cop hangout diner. The waitresses there called you Sugar while they refilled your coffee cup and brought you the 222 special — 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and 2 sausages or bacon rashers for $2.22.
I wish I could remember exactly how she earned our undying devotion — maybe it would make me a better teacher if I had studied her more closely. I know she was tough. She gave us the tools we needed to be good scientists, teaching us not just chemistry but fundamentals like how to take notes and keep good lab books, but we had to work hard using those tools in order to do well in her classes. And I know she was funny and enjoyed wit and mischief in her students. Every year she would get her class to graffiti a lab coat for her to wear. The Washington Post article reminded me that across the back that year it said “CAUTION: BREAKDANCER”.