Thursday, May 17, 2007

A teacher's teacher

Today we start out with a memory. You know a teacher is a good teacher when a student remembers them thirty two years later. In high school some students would get together and just go out driving on a Friday night - no set destination in mind. Back then this was known as “cruising” although, sad to say, it has a much different definition now, and not a very happy little one either.

We had two regular destinations - the first was a smorgasbord, where we would attempt to “eat the owner out of business” (in those days my metabolism was set a good deal higher by the good Lord). The second place was the house of our favorite teacher. One evening we stopped at the local smorgasbord with a particularly large group of students. After eating our considerable fill, the waitress walked up to the group of about 20 of us to settle the bill. We asked for separate checks, and actually waited for her to fill out part of the first check before we stopped her. I am not sure if she appreciated the sense of humor of a group of teenagers but I am sure she didn’t mind the $100 dollar tip we left - considerable considering that was in the early 1970s.

The second destination was the home of our American History teacher - Mr. Aldo V. Caroza. If there is such a thing as a “man’s man” Aldo Caroza was a “teacher’s teacher” He was the sort of teacher that students talk about decades later (like right now). God bless him, even though we all just dropped in on him, Mr. Caroza always let us in. He visited with us and we always left the recipients of his hospitality and his wonderful sense of humor.

Two memories stick with me about Aldo Caroza to this day. The first is his collection of motorcycles. He had a garage full of Mottoguzzi motorcycles, like the one above. He would ride around town in his motorcycle helmet, never taking his bike much above 35 miles per hour.

Like all schools did at least (I don’t know if they still do) ours had students who volunteered to run messages from the principal’s office to the classrooms. Rarely did a student make it past the classroom of Aldo Caroza. He was a popular teacher. Each time a student came to the room to deliver a message they were “shanghaied”. He had a small metal coil he could plug into the wall to heat up a cup of water. He always kept tea and sugar in his desk. Whenever a student came to deliver a message, he would offer them a cup of tea, a chair, and a front row seat to the day’s lecture. The students always stayed. Aldo was a fantastic teacher. I still remember him all these years later. He left me not only part of his knowledge, but his love for history. God bless you Aldo wherever you are today.

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