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F William (Bill) Broome

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My Mentor
By F William (Bill) Broome
Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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An installment on a debt that will never be paid.....

My Mentor
by F. William (Bill) Broome

Decades have slipped by since we met. But, there has never been a year in which I didn't think about her. She was a young woman teacher who would change my life; one that has been lived in seemingly charmed and challenging years. Neither of us suspected anything out of the ordinary upon our meeting, but throughour two extended families, we have admired the other's heralded achievements.

She was Miss Grace Robinson, and at the time, a recent graduate of Agnes Scott College in nearby Decatur, Georgia. She had signed on to teach at the high school level, at Avondale High in Avondale Estates, Georgia. A gutsy young thing, she took on, and conquered, juniors and seniors only a few years younger, and who were almost as difficult as those today.

'Mizz' Robinson's greatest quality was, 'innovation,' and she practiced it every day of her life. In a quiet and talented way, she introduced her students to projects and possibilities which they would never have had during the low economic condition of our country at the time. Every family, except the few national sales and professionals, was broke but proud.

Along with teaching a heavy load in Literature and English, she was the only teacher in the school who could pound French into the brains of country and small town kids, who weren't all that sharp with American-English. One student passed the course, and went on to graduate with all of us, but I don't believe he ever understood a full sentence in French. When called upon to recite a paragraph, his answer was, invariably, "Je ne didn't study, pas." Let's not discount him, however. He went on to become a bomber pilot in one of our wars, gathering the Air Medal and a few other ribbons for his chest.

Teacher and mentor for several of us, Grace Robinson, conceived projects designed to bring each of us into a cohesive class which could do great things. She and we succeeded. The most memorable was the class's purchase of a young pig, which the boys of the class would feed, and the girls would plan and carry out a class barbecue in the spring. One of the farm boys said that he could help out by bringing shorts for the young pig. After a lot of laughs about young pigs wearing shorts, we learned that they are the short ends of milling grain for cattle and other animals.

By springtime our pig, named Cleopatra (what else?) weighed as much as Anthony and his lover combined! It was agreed that such a big animal would never be suitable for a Southern Barbecue, so we swapped the much loved big old girl for two young shoats (that's, shoats; for, young pig). No one would have thought of eating a bite of Cleo, our beloved pet pig. We drank a toast to our teacher for bringing us together as each one hoisted a paper cup of local wine labeled, Coca-Cola.

By June, Miss Robinson, we learned, had become, Mrs. Howard Wynn, when we all reported back to school in the fall. Being married had changed her, but we didn't find out how much until a son, James (Jim) Howard Wynn, was born. A few short years lter the husband and father was killed in his war, resulting in the new mother raising her boy, alone.

She continued teaching for many years, becoming one of the all-time honored members of high school faculties in DeKalb County, east of Atlanta.

Grace Wynn's sister, Hazel Robinson, was a member of my high school class. She became class president, and class members were intrigued with the relationship and the mild tugs of war between the sisters. At times, Hazel tried things not tolerated by her teacher-sister. However, there were incidents in which our fellow student won out, releasing our silent cheers. Although Hazel and I never 'dated,' she and I were often in the same pack of friends enjoying outings and events.

Over the years, my wife kidded me about my taking her to see Hazel for the first time, saying, "He gave me a diamond ring, and promptly took me to see one of his former girl friends!" Months later, we answered the doorbell one evening, and, without their calling ahead, greeted Hazel with her ring... and future husband, Erich Koch!

The four of us stayed good friends for all the years. And, in that wonderful time of friendship, my Madam Mentor, Grace Wynn, continued to influence my life in ways she would have never believed.

Back in our classrooms of old, this quiet and attentive woman gave those of us who needed it, the determination and know how to fit into social situations, and in a number of cases, appointments leading to school leadership assignments. I wonder if she ever knew, although I told her often, the immensity of 'living values' given me as encouragement to do something new. Among these were: my being appointed to the debating team; leading male parts in class plays; and in personal discussions where she offered timely suggestions to an ambitious but hesitant young friend.

A few years before her death, she was a special guest at the celebration of my wife's and my 50th Wedding Anniversary. She had become a published poet, and I have the poem she had written for us, which she read aloud to our appreciative guests. After a well earned applause, my wife, Trulie and I thanked our long term friend with good hugs.

While she was in our spotlight, I added a foot note for my once upon a time teacher. I reminded her that, although, I had continued to enjoy writing, it was she who graded my paper once in high school, a short story about a boy and his dog discovering a mine cave-in and went for help which saved lives. Under the "A" she had written, "You are capable of writing at a higher level than this!"

Much of what I am today is the direct and indirect result of this wonderful and loving woman's influence. She never seemed to realize the tremendous extent of her helping others to change their lives. Grace Robinson Wynn's legacy is found in her faded work and leadership in the classroom, her church, and a myriad of friendly circles to which she belonged. I shall never forget her, for she will always be a part of who I am.

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Reviewed by Inspire Hope 6/29/2009
Bill that is a wonderful storey, one that I
Can truly relate to, and it is so thoughtful
of you to share it. May God bless you as you
continue to inspire others!!!

Love And Prayers Always!
Reviewed by John Domino 7/4/2008
Dear Bill,

I am writing a book about mentoring. I am putting the finishing touches on thebook this month. With your permission I world like to include your short story "My Mentor" in the pages of the book.

Thanks and keep up the fine work!

John Michael Domino
Reviewed by Walt Hardester 6/7/2007
Beautiful tribute, to a caring teacher.
We need more like her today....

Reviewed by Taylor Ryan 4/15/2007
Her legacy lives in your words, Bill...such a comfortable and amazing style for which your teacher/mentor would have been exceedingly proud. From what I have and will continue to read of you, even her comment was an underestimation. Did you save a copy of the mine cave- in story...I'd love to do a comparison!
Reviewed by Myrna Badgerow 1/26/2007
What a wonderful story you've shared here! I know I have spoken to you about my mentor and what he meant to me as I made my way through life.. how lucky we both were to have such inspiration!! This is great writing! Friend, Myrna
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/26/2007
Excellent story, Bill; very well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by CJ Heck 1/25/2007
Bill, this is a wonderful story -- no wonder you call her your mentor. She was a very special lady. Would that we all could have someone who influenced us in so many loving ways. I enjoyed this very much.

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