I am profoundly moved by Walt Whitman’s goodbye to Abraham Lincoln through his poem “O Captain! My Captain!” The poem starts, “O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won …”
Lincoln belongs to the ages and his wit, wisdom and goodness abide with us forever. We little people have no such claim, but we still claim a right to say goodbye and fare thee well. Some old friends in Hopkinsville recently have been on my mind.
My voyage of two years with students of old Hopkinsville High School was generally a smooth sail in peaceful waters, but the memory has stayed with me for 67 years, and I wish to acknowledge it as a definite plus in my life.
The students that I taught in that long ago time are now in their 80s, and many have heard the call of the grim reaper. Still, I remember them as fresh-faced teenagers who tried to share my enthusiasm for science and the pursuit of learning. As a beginning teacher, I had yet to experience any hostility of students toward teachers and the worst I had to cope with was the boredom I inflicted on my students. We did, however, come together as friends with some small hope of making the world a better place.
I have not been able to escape the foul clutch of senility entirely, but I can still picture where students sat in my classes. Bobo Cravens sat at a back table where he could keep an eye on the class and see that things did not get entirely out of control (his control that is).
Beneath a determination to have fun and keep teachers on their toes, Bobo had a good heart and was a favorite of girls and boys alike.
Don Mabry considered it his duty to see that the Virginia Street kids did not capture all the academic honors.
Coaching a play for the Key Club was a first and last for me, but it turned out to be a huge success because of the talented boys who played roles in it.
To those who survive, I propose a reunion of sorts — not a physical reunion but coming together mentally in one more act of camaraderie and love. I may write again for the New Era and for those students I knew so long ago but please take this as my affectionate farewell to you.
For as long as I live, you will be gentle on my mind. Thanks for the memories.
TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is email@example.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.