Monday, August 18, 2008

Mean old Mr. Bostick

My sister and I were talking yesterday and I was reminded about my ninth grade teacher at Eleanor McMain Junior High School. His name was Allen Bostick, Sr. and he taught science. I informed my sister that I had read in the newspaper that he had died a month ago at the age of 79. Because of the way schools were created in Orleans Parish back then, elementary schools ran from kindergarten through sixth grade and junior high schools ran from seventh through ninth grade, which included the first year of high school. High schools held tenth through twelfth grades. Bostick was my nemesis during my initial year of high school at McMain, but not because I gave him sufficient reason to dislike me. Because I excelled at science, I easily answered most questions correctly in class. When his teacher's handbook that held all of the answers to the science experiments and questions was stolen, he unfairly blamed me as the culprit because my answers were almost always correct. He continually looked to put me down in front of my classmates, but he never scared me. I will admit that I was cocky, so the two of us frequently hit head on in an explosive manner such as when magnesium reacts to water. One day I was caught by the school principal with illegally getting out of class to bring a project to Bostick's class, which I had mistakenly left behind at my house. After I was caught, mean old Mr. Bostick used his power to lord over me and changed my previously high mark (everything to that date was in the 90s) to a 39 out of 100 from a 93 for his 5th period class. I was devastated, but the biggest effect was on my not being able to enter Benjamin Franklin High School in the fall, where I had been tentatively accepted based on my I.Q. and successful taking of the entrance exam. Because the low mark by Bostick cost me acceptance to Franklin, I entered Alcee Fortier Sr. High School the next year. Everything happens for a purpose. I know that my sister still holds mean old Mr. Bostick as responsible for keeping me out of Franklin and, possibly, out of some potential colleges as a result of his grading me in that way. Yet, had it not been for my having been at Fortier, I might never have seen my Great-uncle Joseph on a daily basis. Uncle Joe retired from teaching after that year, but contracted pancreatic cancer in just a few months and was gone within a year. Also, had I been at Franklin, I might never have learned touch typing (as I did at Fortier), which gave me a huge leg up when I finally went to college and has helped me immeasurably in my writing ever since. And what about my association with the Phortier Pholk Phest, the singing group that was formed to help foster better race relations and for youth to help understand one another better? My election as senior class vice-president and my work as executive editor of the Silver and Blue newspaper might never have been repeated at Franklin. Also, there were those driving runs during driver's education classes where I was able to order out lunch with my instructor at Bill Long's Bakery (the very best roast beef sandwiches you can imagine on fresh french bread baguettes) or at Domilise's. Ah, that was heaven! There were those lunch runs with four girls that I made that made me pretty popular too. On reflection, I got to know my future wife Sally at Fortier and we know well where that led. Fatherhood led to my association with Scouting and my work in audio-visual aids at Fortier eventually led me to work in radio and television production. So, I guess I should be grateful for much of the high school experience I enjoyed at Fortier and not harbor ill will against mean old Mr. Bostick. My sister still feels like he was wrong and I guess I can't argue with that, but I believe it all happened for a purpose unknown to me. Besides, it was all great fun!

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