Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: H is for Harrison




My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Harrison.  Richard Harrison.

I must call him “Mr. Harrison.”  Even though he was my mother’s friend from high school, I knew him too.  He was my music teacher at Cradock Junior High School.  His reputation as a student and his personality as a teacher couldn’t be more different.

When Mr. Harrison was a student at Cradock High School in the 1940s, his nickname was “Prof.” Pictures in the yearbook suggest the name was fitting.  First of all, he wore wire-rimmed glasses, certainly a required accessory for that scholarly persona. 
 
photo scanned from Cradock HS Admiral 1946


Secondly, he stood erect with an air of superiority, towering over most of the other students.  While he looked like a candidate for the basketball team, he wasn’t athletic, apparently.  There’s no mention in the senior yearbook of his ever playing sports.  Instead he was active in all the music programs.  He played in the orchestra and sang in the Glee Club all four years of school.  He served as president one year.
 
Glee Club Cradock High School 1946
Glee Club Cradock High School 1946
Mr. Harrison is smack-dab in the center, back row, shirt and tie.

The Senior Class recognized him as “Most Dignified” among the Senior Superlatives, and the Class Prophecy predicted he would be a famous star at the Metropolitan Opera.
 
Cradock High School 1946 Senior Superlatives
photo scanned from Cradock HS Admiral 1946


The Richard Harrison I knew was still tall and imposing, and he still wore glasses.  But somewhere between high school graduation and becoming a music teacher, he became fun and funny. 

My junior high school included grades 5-7, so basically kids from 10-12 years old.  Mr. Harrison taught music, but he also attracted a large number of non-singers like me for a before-school program that combined performance and music appreciation.  We were known as The Early Birds. 

Mr. Harrison introduced us to opera with “Aida” by Verdi.  Every morning we listened to portions of the music which he always introduced with some plot summary and analysis of what we should listen for.  He always called Aida “Toots.”  Mr. Harrison made opera approachable.

Our class was blessed with a number of exceptionally beautiful voices, several angelic sopranos and budding tenors.  We performed a number of Christmas pageants and we even made a record. 

Looking back, I realize Mr. Harrison was truly a remarkable teacher whose contributions deserved more recognition than he ever enjoyed.


Hop, hurdle, or hustle to the A to Z April Challenge for hundreds and hundreds of posts on the letter H, and that’s no hyperbole!

27 comments:

  1. He sounds a great teacher and like most good teachers remains quietly in the background.

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    1. So true -- many of the best teachers just do their thing day after day without expectation of reward.

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  2. 'He became fun and funny'. That statement could only come from one who knew him and appreciated from whence he came. Lucky you...to have known him, and sure enough his prophecy was accurate...he was a 'Star'.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. I forgot to mention that Mr. Harrison had a booming bass (or maybe LOW baritone??) singing voice and very well could have been a professional singer. I thought it was funny that the class prophecy put him in opera when he really did teach us about opera.

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  3. Lovely tribute to someone who made a difference in your life.

    Beth
    http://bethlapinsatozblog.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

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  4. Isn't it odd how much a person can change after highschool? It sounds like he was an incredible teacher.

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    1. Looking back, I'm glad I changed after high school!!

      Thanks for visiting!

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  5. Funny how we all have a favourite teacher (and can easily recall the bad ones too). I've no idea what happened to mine.

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    1. Yes, probably everyone can point to one unforgettable teacher.

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  6. Visiting back from A to Z. I see you also enjoy alliteration. http://suestrifles.wordpress.com

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  7. How great that you were able to "know" him long before he was your high school teacher!

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    1. Yeah, even when I was in junior high, I felt I knew him through my mom's yearbook. It was almost like knowing a secret.

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  8. Great theme for the challenge :) Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

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    1. And thanks for returning the visit!

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  9. Isn't it interesting that he became fun and funny? I don't think people change that much but the perception of his high school peers would probably be much different than those of his later students. I also had an interesting teacher who, like Mr. Harrison, taught me more than English. There are few really great teachers and I glad you shared him with us.
    http://yeakleyjones.blogspot.com/

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    1. I wonder if he was really fun and funny in high school too but that side didn't get reflected in the yearbook.

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  10. It sounds like he blossomed after high school. I've told our children that life begins after high school. And really, it does. Mr. Harrison sounds like he was a fun music teacher and one who did a wonderful job in helping you to appreciate music.

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    1. College must have taught him not to be so serious. Maybe?? At any rate, he knew how to relate to 10-12 year olds.

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  11. Teachers like that are the best! It's always good to celebrate a wonderful teacher, and Mr. Harrison sounds like the real deal. So glad I got to meet him today :)

    M. J.
    A - Z Co-Host
    http://mjjoachim.blogspot.com
    http://effectivelyhuman.blogspot.com
    http://lotsofcrochetstitches.blogspot.com

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    1. I surprised myself by selecting him, and I'm actually rather pleased with this tribute.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  12. How cool to have a post on a teacher you knew...fun post!
    Happy A-Z April my friend :)

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    1. Thanks -- I like that Mr. Harrison straddles the generations in that both my mom and I knew him but in different ways.

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  13. Good that u showcased a person who means something to u
    My regards to Mr.Harrison and a lovely ode
    Dropping by from A to Z :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and the visit.

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  14. I remember his wife, Mrs. Harrison. We all wanted her for third grade because she didn't give homework! haha! They had that cute house on the corner of Prospect and Dahlgren?? I think.
    They were so nice.

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