Saturday, October 8, 2011

Memorable Teachers

Several teachers made a lasting impression on me—although not always a positive one!

Physical education was not my favorite class! But in my junior year, my PE teacher was my favorite teacher. I remember there were several students who called her “mom.” I don’t remember why...likely it was because we felt she cared about us, not just as students but as young women.

I wasn’t particularly interested in American history, but my 8th grade teacher tried to make it as palatable as possible. He would start each class  by reading a passage from It All Started with Columbus by Richard Armour. If you are not familiar with Armour’s works, this passage will give you an idea of how much fun this added to our history class:
In an attempt to take Baltimore, the British attacked Fort McHenry, which protected the harbor. Bombs were soon bursting in air, rockets were glaring, and all in all it was a moment of great historical interest. During the bombardment, a young lawyer named Francis "Off" Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner, and when, by the dawn's early light, the British heard it sung, they fled in terror!
Another 8th teacher is memorable for his irreverent description of Forest Lawn Memorial Park as the “Disneyland of Death.” He seemed to be obsessed with the dark side. The one story that I remember reading for his literature class was “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce.

And finally, my 9th grade geometry teacher. I was good at math and I was also precocious enough to correct my elders! On a couple of occasions, I dared to point out (probably not too diplomatically) that he had missed steps in solving a problem. Then I “aced” an exam. It came back with the notation “Do you want to be the teacher?” For many years, I would not venture a comment in any class that I felt was contradictory to the instructor’s view.

Teachers impact their students in ways they probably never imagine!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name

I was a short baby; only 18 inches long at birth. Appropriately, at least in my family's mind, I was called "Shorty." It didn't last long! From what I was told, at about 4 years old, I politely (perhaps precociously is a better word) informed someone (not sure who it was) that my name was not Shorty, it was Denise! And that was the end of it.

John William Godward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#1 Songs

Music has always been important to me. Here is a list of the #1 songs at milestones in my life. If you want to hear the song, click on the title to go to a YouTube video!

Birth - Wanted - Perry Como
Age 13 - The Happening - The Supremes
Age 16 - American Woman - Guess Who
Age 18 - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack
My son's birthday - Love's Theme - Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra
Age 21 - He Don't Love You Like I Love You - Tony Orlando & Dawn
Age 30 - Hello - Lionel Ritchie
My grandson's birthday - If Wishes Came True - Sweet Sensation
My granddaughter's birthday - Baby, Baby - Amy Grant
Age 40 - Bump N Grind - R Kelley
Age 50 - Yeah - Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris

I didn't know the first song or the last four! Lionel Ritchie is one of my favorite artists so Hello would be at the top of my all-time favorites list. I wonder what the #1 song will be when I turn 60?

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mustangs Rock!

My first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang coupe with a V-8 engine and automatic transmission. It was an aquamarine color, and if I remember correctly, had a gray interior. My first husband and I purchased it in 1973 at a used car lot on Holt Boulevard in Montclair, California. The total price was about $1,000; my parents gave me $200 for the down payment and we financed the rest with monthly payments of $54. Although I put up the money to buy it, I didn't have a driver's license so couldn't drive it for almost a year after we bought it. The license plate frame advertised the Walker Buerge dealership so I think that is where it was first sold. I still remember the license plate number—SUP 874! To this day when I see one of these classic cars, I check the license plate to see if it was the one I once owned!

1966 Ford Mustang Coupe.
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.
© 2011 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter in Alaska

For several years during my childhood, our family lived in Fairbanks, Alaska. According to, the average high temperature in January (the coldest month) is 3°F and the average low temperature is -11°. The lowest recorded temperature of -61° occurred in 1961.

Going outside in the winter meant bundling up in many layers of clothing—boots, warm pants, parkas, hats, mittens or gloves. Outdoor activities were somewhat restricted, but we still went outside to play and for recess. My recollection is that we could go outside for recess unless the mercury dropped below -20°.

Ice skating was a favorite activity; the photo at left shows me and my friend Becky ready for some skating. Look at the snow piled up on the car behind us! Although there were skis available at school, I never learned to ski. I also remember building ice houses from sheets of ice that we would break off the top of snow banks!

Living so far north also meant limited daylight hours during the winter. I can remember walking to and from school in the dark. I don’t remember ever seeing the aurora borealis—the “northern lights.”

When we moved back to California in 1964, I remember thinking how silly it was that we could not go out for recess in the rain!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Memories

New Year's celebrations are not something I recall happening in our family. In years past, I did my fair share of partying in celebration of the dawn of a new year, but now I would just as soon be at home and out of the way of crazies!

One "tradition" I do remember is having black-eyed peas as part of our New Year's Day meal. Neither my sister nor I cared for them, but Daddy insisted that we eat a spoonful for good luck throughout the year!

The year after Daddy passed away, my sister and I were visiting Mama in Oklahoma. Our nieces and nephews were going to parties and invited us to join them. I don't remember what my sister did, but I wasn't keen on going to parties and leaving Mama home alone. We ended up running around town trying to find mix to make piƱa coladas (remember the song?) and stayed home and played dominoes with the "old folks"!

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock