‘Older’ students closing age gap

By Lynn Moncus

Valentine’s Day was made very special with an early-morning call from Jim Nelson, one of my first students to start me on my lengthy teaching career.

Through the years, we have visited about the special bond and love between students and teachers, and you have read much about my feelings for my “kids” from Forrest and Tucumcari. Because they were the first and from my home county and town, they have just naturally retained a special place in my heart.

When Jim identified himself, I immediately saw that young high school senior in my Algebra 11 class in the fall of 1955.
That was a very small class taught by a very young teacher who knew almost as much about algebra as those young ones did. At least one of us learned much that year and had sense enough to close her math books for the rest of her career.

I could also see Jim’s winning smile that tended to get him out of trouble before he really got into it and felt very moved that he remembered me and called to talk for a little while.

As we settled into the visit, we both talked much about home and knew we were both talking about our homes right here in Quay County.

He mentioned that he has never really thought of any place else as home, and we both knew exactly what he was talking about. He even mentioned his longing to see a little blowing dirt in those fields on the plains and how much he would like to wander around his home place near the caprock just east of Ragland.

We were both seeing just what he was talking about and remembering his family as we visited. His grandparents, the Langfords, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Nelson were well known throughout our county, and his sister was known for the writing she did for the newspaper here in town.

Of course, his father was responsible for my beginning to write this column back in the mid ‘60’s and managed to give me the experience of playing with words in order to practice the use of our language along with my college students.

Jim talked about his love of the plains and her people and let me know he still remembers what fortunate people we are to have such feelings for our special places. Although he has gone far from that wonderful little school at Forrest, he has never forgotten his roots and is very proud of those rather humble beginnings as they would be judged by today’s standards.

He moved me deeply as he talked about the many lives I have touched, but I reminded him that I really was the fortunate one because I was touched by so many lives, each of which has left a permanent mark.

When I finally gathered the courage to ask his age, I fell over in a heap of shock because he said he is now 70!

How can any of my “kids” be 70? 1 had sort of quit doing any arithmetic when I realized that most of my public school kids had reached their 60s and must have decided that they were old enough.

I don’t mind being 73, but I can’t abide their entering their 70’s. Where have all the years gone? At least, the bond between us still remains, and those wonderful people will forever be my “kids.”