Growing Up Leota: He’ll Always Be Mister To Me
He was the authority. And I, of course, didn't like that one bit.
It was back in those High School years, those four amazing years when a young person knows everything....everything!...only to find out through the years that, well...
Maybe you didn't know all that much at all.
I'm not 100% sure (because now I'm old enough to know I don't know everything) but maybe that's what they call maturity.
He was the Principal at the High School and I pretty much had a semi-permanent spot in the chair that was set there in the corner of his office. Oh, it wasn't anything terribly awful I did. I mean, we're not talking guns or knives or drugs here. No, no, we're in a different time and place here. This was rural Minnesota for goodness sakes and it was the early 1970s. But...it was terribly awful enough to warrant time in that corner chair in that office.
I was situated in that chair in that office for talking, goofing off, disrupting class, for what we used to call, uh, 'horsing around'. Now, in the warm memories, I now have I certainly wasn't guilty of any of that, but those were the allegations.
Mrs. Baden would boot me out of English class. Mr. Jacobs would kick me out of shop class. Mr. DeJong would ask me to please leave Math class and find that chair in that office. Mr. Deremo would ask that my presence be removed from the Library and...yes, to that chair.
Now, the first few times (and yes, there were more than a few times, I was an unlucky innocent kid), this 'Mister' would give me a lecture, a scolding, and I would earn some 'learning time' over the noon hour. But eventually, there was something else for that 'Mister', something that stayed with me a lot longer than a yelling at.
Disappointment. He knew I could do better, a whole lot better, but that I didn't really care enough, didn't really give much of a hoot about the classes I wasn't really interested in. He told me he was disappointed. But there was also one thing more.
We both knew, this 'Mister' and I, that I wasn't going to college. We both knew that I wasn't real keen on sitting in a classroom learning about Algebra or Geometry or building something cool in shop class. We both knew that, in one shape or form, I was going to be in radio. And then, one more thing we knew...I'm not sure how to put this, but frankly, we both knew I was...
A smart ass.
And somehow we developed a kind of respect for one another, not one we ever said out loud, but we both kind of knew. I look back now and know I had a respect for him that I didn't realize at the time. Now, I'm not saying (at the time) that I liked him...but there was a kind of silent respect. And maybe he had something like that for me, too. And so, looking back, I learned a valuable lesson.
Respect people for who and what they are. Don't try to change them, but encourage them, respect them, and maybe occasionally....tolerate them.
And all through the many years after I left Edgerton High School and moved away, I didn't see him too much. But whenever I did, he was still 'Mister' to me. I guess he wasn't all that much older than me really, but teachers and principals are like that, at least for me.
Mister Rolsma passed away back in 2003. He was a much too young 65. And I never did tell him what he taught me. I regret that. Oh, and yes, I know...
His first name was Larry. But he'll always be 'Mister' to me.