Sunday, 11 November 2007
Blast From the Past
I've been trying to get back into my current writing projects. One of them is The Yearbook, inspired by a year I spent in Spain in 1974. I found the old yearbook and started flipping through it to gain some motivation. On impulse I decided to Google a couple of the teachers. Well, I came up with two hits:
John Pharms had a difficult childhood and obtained a scholarship from West Michigan University due to the assistance of a mentor who believed in him. He spent a couple of years as a student teacher at the American School in Mallorca. I remember him as a big man with a huge smile and a voice that struck fear in us all. He taught us Phys Ed and one of our tasks was to clear a vacant lot of branches and rocks so we could play baseball. That wasn't the fun part; it was even more challenging finding the baseball when it rolled into a patch of prickly pear cactus.
He was thrilled to hear from me and will be happy to help me jog my memory about that incredible year at the American School in Spain. I went to his website and discovered that one of my classmates who was very close to Coach committed suicide shortly after I left. Coach had taken him under his wing and made him manager of the basketball team. He was devastated by his 'little brother's' death and made it his life's work to encourage young people to pursue their dreams. He's a motivational speaker for disadvantaged youth, based in Michigan.
The principal Peter J. Foley once served in the Peace Corps. He is now vice president of an incredible private boarding school in Thailand. He was an unconventional principal in a time and place where discipline didn't seem to exist. He seemed more like one of the students, and everyone treated him like a pal rather than an authority figure. He also sent me an email, and wants to hear more about my books. He says he's been working on a manuscript for the last five years, and needs a kick in the butt to finish it. He could probably fill volumes with his wealth of experiences.
Chatting with these two gentlemen has definitely given me a kick in the butt. The memories are flooding back and I hope I can weave them into this novel with some measure of success. Stay tuned for more developments.
Image: Rear view of The American School circa 1976.