I’m not sure why he came to mind tonight, but he is a person that I treasure in my memories.
I graduated from high school early, when I was sixteen years old. The only way you could do this at the time was to take Summer School English. Senior English was always British Literature. I had taken a lot of English courses, even English electives, throughout high school. But, nothing in my education remains with me like the Summer of Mr. Meehan.
The students in this class couldn’t have been more different from one another. People graduating early, people repeating the course after failing. I befriended a girl that was pregnant after her Junior year. Going to high school while pregnant just wasn’t done back then. So, we all had different reasons for winding up in Mr. Meehan’s class. Because it was Summer School, it was a concentrated course, every day for three hours.
He was a big fan of Marshall McLuhan, and was fond of reminding us that “The Medium is the Message”. He loved photography. He was devoted to his wife, and talked about her often. But, one of the things I loved most about the class was that every day, everyone had to bring in a “Quotable Quote”. So, here were teenagers from all types of backgrounds, finding meaning through words every single day. I did not understand how powerful that was at the time. We would start class by going around the room, sharing a quote.
Mr. Meehan retired in 1995 from teaching. I looked him up online, and found his obituary from 2007. It was on a Washington Post archive page, sandwiched between two ads for a Jeep Renegade. Ironic… the medium is the message. I’m not sure how he would have felt about that. He did have a great sense of humor. There were lots of students who poured out their hearts in the guest book on his obituary. So, I know I’m not alone when I say he played a big part in my education and love for language, words, literature, and quotable quotes.
Here’s one for the road:
Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. – Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
Goodnight, Harry *