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John W. Pinkerton


Linda and I often have folks walk up to us and start a conversation.  We can tell by the content of the conversations that they’re ex-students.  When they depart, I ask Linda, “Who the Hell was that?” and she often replies, “I don’t have a clue.”

Linda and I taught a lot of kids in Somerville through the years---thirty and thirty-five years.   Since we retired, Linda has been on the school board for nearly twenty years.  A lot of these “kids” are still here, and, of course, others return from time to time to visit their hometown.

Since we’ve retired---almost twenty years now---there have been a few individuals who have come by the house.  That has always been a pleasant experience.  Three lads visited with us to apologize for being “bad” in school.  Hell, they were good kids.  I tried to explain to them that they were a lot better than they realized.

On the other hand, when one of these ex-students walks up to me without Linda next to me and ask if I remember them, and I don’t, I simply say, “Nope, who are you?”  Once they tell me their names, I usually recall them.

I do occasionally make an exception to this.  I have had encounters with folks who are so enthusiastic and apparently happy to see me, I just don’t have the heart to admit I don’t remember them---I fake the whole thing. 

So far neither of us, Linda nor I, have had bad encounters with ex-students.  However, there is a small handful that I hope never to speak to again.  They were jerks in school, and I doubt that they’ve changed.  Just saying.

Homecomings and football games are like shooting fish in a barrel.  Being that I can’t hear well now, these aren’t my favorite places to meet ex-students.  Usually I don’t accompany Linda to these events, but she fills me in on who she talked to at these events.

As I said, often when I run into one of the ex-students, I don’t immediately recognize them, but the other day, a truck stopped in the middle of the street next to the car we were about to exit.  I immediately thought to myself, “Here is someone else I won’t recognize.”

However I did.  He was around Somerville after graduation for years, and then he disappeared from my radar.  Most ex-students I have little memory of, but not this fellow: he was always honest and had a great sense of humor---he was just a delight to be around.

After we talked for a while, we separated to go back to our separate lives.

It was good to see him.

Recently Linda and I were in a local restaurant when a fellow came over to our table and started talking to us.  Obviously he was an ex-student, but I didn’t have a clue.  We shook hands and chatted, and he went back to his table with his wife and kids.

I asked Linda who he was.  Once she spoke his name, I remembered him well.  He was full of life and very funny when he was in school.  He hasn’t changed. 

I felt better about the world.

Linda and I don’t travel much…never have.

I think the farthest from home we encountered an ex-student was in Houston.  I was there to have a checkup after my heart attack.  The ex-student was there also because of a heart problem.  We chatted.  He’s a good fellow…played a little college football.

About the time they become almost civilized, they graduate and move on with their lives.

If we never see them again, we’re not surprised.  It’s the natural order of things.