Last Hurrah: Looking back … in endearment

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Last Hurrah: Looking back … in endearment

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

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“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,

And say my glory was that I had such friends.”

(W.B. Yeats)

Dear survivors of my classes … and U. Newsers, ad infinitum: Welcome to a metaphorical game of hide and seek, where the goal is to delve into and dig behind every picayune memory and moment, striving to excavate and acknowledge the names, characters and events that have defined, refined and enriched the last four-plus decades of my life.

Ready or not, here I come.

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I have reveled in, exulted over and rhapsodized about my students for so many years, that the thought of relinquishing them, henceforth, to the world at large seems melancholy, poignant, even woebegone. For I have learned more than I have taught … or so it seems to me, when recollected in tranquility.

I have rambled on about the joys of journalism, the recompense of writing, the exhilaration of editing and the mojo of movies for so many semesters that the memories form a jumbled montage that seems infinite … though the reel will run out, eventually.

 

In return, my students have instructed me in the fine arts of: grace under pressure, wit, empathy, caprice, eloquence, integrity, sagacity, whimsy, defiance, skepticism, imagination and compassion.

And for each of these honorable nouns, a flurry of names and a malarkey of stories spring to mind. (Even now, the muddled montage begins to gear up, unbidden, behind my eyes — without a whimper, despite an occasional bang.)

Ferreting out those far-flung classroom memories, the hubbub of names and clamor of students … the eager faces, youthful idealism, unlimited promise, chockablock experiences and vivid imaginations that have traipsed through my classrooms … it seems a fool’s errand. But let’s give it a shot.

Roll film:

Citizen Kane and A Man For All Seasons; tawdry ties; ’49 Buick Roadmaster; globetrotting tales;

Orwell and E.B. White; “nobody gets in to see the wizard, not nobody, not no how;” AFAR; green pens;

Johnston and Baricevic: alliterative headlines, current-events quizzes; Jeep Wranglers;

The Graduate and 2001: A Space Odyssey; Elements of Style, face quizzes; AP Stylebook;

Baker and Barry; cockamamie characters; copy-desk shenanigans; reading papers aloud;

Fr. Reinert and Fr. Fitz; Jason and Chelsea stories; face quizzes; editing handouts;

On The Waterfront and Lion In Winter; ’53 Dodge; flexible deadlines; Feature Writing;

Steinbeck and Agee; intermittent poetry; Fred and Bruce at Chaifetz; war-room meetings.

Carrocci and Pauly; Sodality Hall; Alex and Ellen stories; Literary Journalism;

 

Annie Hall and Elephant Man; Lit. to Film classes; Christmas at Cupples; administrative skulduggery;

O’Connor and Dillard; elusive A’s; lemon bars from the world’s most nearly perfect wife; movie quizzes

McNamee and Mandeville; West Pine powwows and popinjays; Scholars’ House;

hanging at Humphrey’s;

All The President’s Men and The Right Stuff; moving days; CBF; steel-mill yarns;

Herr and Wolfe; end-of-semester book awards; 4 a.m., BSC layout nights; Norm and Nordmann’s;

Charles and Roy (SJR); XH Room 317; graduation cigars and pens; year-end picnics;

A Thousand Clowns and Grapes of Wrath; ’55 DeSoto; Santa Claus adventures; Essays;

Bacon and Twain; MCM(N)A escapades; weddings and funerals; graduation galas;

Farrell and Trees; SAG meetings; snacks in perpetuity; Post-Dispatch folklore;

Life and death … The Undiscovered Country; The U. News — a student voice since 1921: Nancy Dintleman; John Castasus; Steve DeBellis; alas.

Roll credits:

The University News “kids,” especially, leave a rococo legacy that endures. But — if I were to take a stab at dredging up and thanking all those memorable, beloved personalities, I would surely neglect someone — bringing regret to my doorstep, and perhaps theirs.

However, the editors-in-chief offer a vagabond catalog of characters and quirks that exemplify the symbolic mountain peaks, by which I remember the terrain of the decades. (“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”) Thus, those stalwarts will stand in, here, for all those stouthearted souls I might neglect, as well as all those I never shall … and you know who you are.

Here’s looking at you, kids.

Thank you:

Mary Jo, Jean, Erv, John R., Gerri; Mary, Mike, Cyndi, Kathy, Anne; Tom D., Charles, Rey, Paul, Teryl; Tom F., Erika, Trish, Tim, Bill; Matt, Lee, Patrick, Diana U., Eric; Krissy, Andrew, Diana B., Katie, Adam; Kat, Jonathan E., Brian, Kristen, Bri; John S., Paul B. … et al.

I have cherished every moment.

Alle alle auch sind frei.