The title “More Recent Times” may be a little misleading, but here goes. I was married in June after graduating high school in May. This was the norm for my times as only rich kids were able to go to college. I always wanted more education than I had, and decided I would try to go to the Community College for a few credits at a time after Mike started to Kindergarten. I went to the school to register and paid my tuition which wasn’t very much, but was enough. I took an English class which was two hours credit. Since it was one of the few two credit hour courses, and the time of it was early afternoon, it was extremely popular with the scholarship football players. Now, they didn’t care diddly-squat about English poetry which was the first semester emphasis, they just wanted an afternoon class for two hours credit and the ethics class-another two hour class- was full. The attendance the first day of class was forty-two students.
The teacher of this class was Myles Pember. He had worked in Chicago for a large advertising agency. He was a very intelligent man. He had come to Parsons because he wanted to escape the rat race he was in and the cold weather in Chicago. Our first class met on Tuesday. Our assignment for Thursday was to memorize and be able to write a long Old English poem. I think the name of it was Twa Corbies. I worked very hard to memorize this poetry. On Thursday, with sweaty palms, I came to class prepared to write. Surprisingly, the number of people in the class had dwindled to about twelve. I successfully wrote the poem and was ready for the next assignment which I expected would be equally as hard.
Mr. Pember announced that for some reason, there had been a large number of “drops” in this class. From then on the class was very enjoyable and even though the work was difficult, it wasn’t nearly as hard as the first assignment.
I was impressed and made up my mind to take all the courses he taught at Labette. I subsequently took Creative Writing from him and learned a lot.
He apparently was either impressed with me or realized I needed financial help….which was true. He offered me a job which would pay half my tuition. I accepted gratefully. My job was to write press releases to send to the home town newspapers of the scholarship athletes. Every time they did anything positive either athletically of scholastically, I wrote to their hometown newspapers. I composed the press releases and after they were approved, or edited by Mr. Pember, I mailed them to the person in charge of sports. Many of the athletes on basketball and football scholarships were from the Chicago area. Their hometown newspaper wouldn’t be the big Chicago paper like the Tribune, but a smaller neighborhood paper. There were also athletes from Pennsylvania. They were from the Johnstown area.
It’s been a long time ago, but I remember typing hours and hours to do this job. They really got their money’s worth, but I got a wealth of experience, and a special type of education from a man who was an expert in the newspaper field. Although he didn’t say keep it simple, he did say be concise when you write. Get the information out there in the least amounts of words.
He was probably one of t he most influential teachers I had. My Senior English teacher had stressed meter and rhythm in poetry. Mr. Pember stressed content and voice. I came to love poetry. I still disagree when someone tells me what a poet meant when he made some obscure reference. If we weren’t there and he didn’t tell us, I don’t think we should speculate.