Mr Dee

Mr Dee was the most eccentric teacher I ever had, in high school or out, but as I have always suspected after reading through the bio in his death notice, for the best teachers it was always a pose to get through the day without falling into deep depression and insanity. He had a kind of madcap approach to teaching, starting the lesson the moment the first student entered the class as we were rotating between periods, which naturally had a series of studenten rushing off from the previous class not to miss a moment – not me I might mention. And he had these monstrous blackboards full of lists of obscure German words we would have to copy down of which the only one I remember to this day is damenhelden which he translated as “lady killer” which had a different connotation back in our more backward times (better translation might be a male hero to women which is a term that has no modern usage so far as I can tell). I have always used his term for a kind of idiotic mistake which I pronounce as “Flutekeitzfehler” which I loved the sound of which I made many.

But reading through the obit, what strikes me is that he was a classical man of deep wisdom and grace, which were aspects of his character we would never have noticed or appreciated. It is also a reminder of how expensive it once was to go off to Europe which only a handful could do at the time. I am probably today more like him than probably any of the other teachers we had, but what would I know? They may all have been like him with a love of classical music and the arts, but whose wonderful attributes were wasted on us back then when we were just fifteen years old.

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