Friday, August 9, 2019

Jeremiah Munley and Poet's Corner

I used this space a while back to talk about an epiphany.  A former teacher and I were talking about teachers I liked and, more importantly, respected.  The vast, vast majority were in the junior high and high school English departments.

Jeremiah Munley died Tuesday.  He was my English teacher for half of 8th grade and all of 9th.  He wasn't the nuts and bolts English guy-- no diagramming sentences, or parts of speech.  Literature and reading were his thing, at least in my day.

There was an odd experiment back in the mid 70's.  Jim Emmel, who died too young, had us for grammar, construction, and the like in the first half of 8th grade.  Munley had us for the second.  By the way, one of the great joys of my career was doing a little radio time at WARM, with Jim.

Mr. Munley taught with a sense of humor and I will never forget that.  His classes were fun.  I learned.  He taught us to write, and to think, and to feel.

I have to spend a few moments talking about Poet's Corner.  In 9th grade, Mr. Munley's English class was my last one before lunch.  If you were overly rambunctious, if you slightly misbehaved, you were forced to attend Poet's Corner, which cut in to the lunch break.  It wasn't long. The purpose was to inconvenience you by shaving a few minutes off your lunch time, and Poet's Corner consisted of Munley reciting a ribald poem with the naughty parts edited out.  It might have been one of the best punishments ever.  It was worth getting in trouble.

After the above mentioned epiphany, I tried to reconnect.  I left a couple of phone messages.  They were not returned.  I reached out via Facebook.  Nothing.  To say the least, I was disappointed. Maybe he wasn't well.   He probably didn't remember me, and that's okay.  I remembered him, and what he meant to my education.

My sympathy to Jeremiah Munley's family.  I believe I said "thank you" to him on one of my answering machine messages.  You, and Poet's Corner, were unforgettable.