Friday, November 10, 2006


Since I haven't been in the mood to write anything else, I thought I'd respond in a new post to John's question in the comments of my last post about All Saints Day: "So, who were your heroes?" Put the names out there into the blogosphere. He was referring to this part of my post:
"And yet, I'm not sure we can help but make heroes of those we admire. When I was in junior-high, I regularly kept a 'hero-list'. I will confess to you that I a bit(?!) arrogantly consider myself hard to impress, so the list was pretty hard to get onto. But I can remember today almost everyone whose name graced the list, and I remember how and why they got there. A couple teachers, a classmate or two, some family members, people in the arts, even an inspirational speaker that came to speak to us. I like to think they gave me something to work for, a model to be like, to try to be like at least."

Well, I admit I had to spend some time going through my old journals to find the complete list. Some people were added on through the years of course, and others dropped off when they become less a part of my current state of mind, though I don't think I ever mentally 'kicked someone off'!

Here's the list:
Al DeNeve - Mr. DeNeve was my ninth grade English teacher. A few of my classmates and I used to call him "the smartest man in the world." He seemed to know everything - both useful and silly things. He would share poetry with us, and loved to rewrite fairy tales using words that sounded like the right words when said quickly (like "cheeses priced" instead of "Jesus Christ"). He was the first teacher that I had that ever interpreted what we were reading in a deeper way. We read many, many short stories that year, and he would always talk to us about the metaphors in the stories and the subtexts and I'd never had anyone do that before. I felt like he was solving literature mysteries for us. I was fascinated. Plus, hey, he taught me grammar. Some of it I still use! A nice man, an excellent teacher.

James Wygant - Mr. Wygant I considered second only in intelligent teachers to Mr. DeNeve. He was my eighth grade science teacher - basic physics/chemistry stuff. I always hated science, so anyone who could make me enjoy it was already winning points. I liked Mr. Wygant because, as I wrote in my journal, he was "quiet, but always smiling on the inside." I felt like he was always laughing to himself about the silliness of junior high drama.

Frankie Scinta - Scinta came to my junior high school as a motivational speaker. Like people are with a good sermon, I don't remember the specifics - just that he was funny and direct and encouraging general goodness out of the students and managed to be cool while doing it. Apparently, he and his family now perform a family-friendly show in Las Vegas.

Carol Finn - Carol and I went to high school together (sometime toward the end of high school is when I stopped keeping the list) and I primarily knew her through orchestra. Carol was the concert mistress, which gave her a step in the right direction right there, and she was one who didn't seem to lord her principal chair status over others (a common problem!). But what I liked most about Carol was that she didn't seem to fit any particular mold, didn't seem to be part of any particular set clique, which is of course a miracle in high school. She had her own style, was very intelligent, never seemed to care what other people thought of her. She was funny, and adventurous (at least to my timid mind) without doing dumb things for adventure. I got to room with her on a trip to Austria with one of our string groups when I was a junior and she was a freshman in college. The trip would not have been nearly as much fun without her.

Kevin "Bull" Troy - When I was in between fifth and sixth grades, I went to "Adventure Camp" at our conference church camp, Camp Aldersgate. The 'dean' of the camp, a clergyperson, had to cancel last minute. Taking over for him were two counselors, Laura and Bull. My mom was not excited - Bull was huge - 6' 4" and muscular, pierced ears, bandana over a shaved head, and generally your stereotype of a tough-guy. He was great! The nicest guy, friendly and tender-hearted. He was on staff the next several years, and has since stayed connected with my uncle (a pastor appointed near Aldersgate), and I always looked forward to seeing him.
Meredith Niles - I met Meredith at Camp when I was going into ninth grade. (She has a twin that I never did get to know - Mindy - so Meredith was called "Mork" by many.) Like Carol, Meredith struck me as a non-conformist with her own style. She had a deep faith, and yet still struggled and was down on herself about so much. She was a couple years older than me - I thought she was very mature, and I really admired her, her creativity.

Robert Zazzara - He conducted the area all-state choir when I was in ninth grade. (He's faculty - retired? - at Ithaca College.) This was the first music event I was part of that was outside of my own school. I loved my junior high chorus teacher - she was great. But this was my first experience with someone of his level of training, singing with other singers who were more serious students, and singing songs that were at a higher level of difficulty. I loved it. I still remember a couple of the pieces we sang. And I thought he was an awesome conductor.

Henry Wilson - I've written about Henry before. Henry played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Salt City Playhouse for the first three seasons I went to see it there. Without ever speaking to him, I was totally infatuated with him in a way that only junior high kids can be. But because of my huge crush, I came to know and love the Lenten and Easter seasons better. I still love Jesus Christ Superstar. I am still intrigued by what propelled Judas Iscariot, still wonder what he was really like. Henry was an excellent actor and singer. These days, he (among other things, I'm sure) sings in a local band.

A few others here and there, but these were the 'main' members of my elite group.
Who are your heroes?
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