Decade 4
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The Fourth Decade: 1959-1966 (Short Decade):

I began my teaching career in the fall of 1959; I was almost 30. That first year was a pretty good one. I had a seventh and eighth grade home room, with only a few kids, in LaPine, Oregon, which was a rural school just south of Bend, in Central Oregon. I also coached the junior high basketball team; the kids taught me a lot. We won half our games.

My father died at Christmastime of 1959. He was only in his early sixties, but he had been ill for many years—since I was just a little kid. As is often true of the children of disabled fathers, I didn't get along with him very well; actually, I avoided being with him whenever I could. It's too bad. He was probably a very nice person. I remember other people seemed to think highly of him.

Connie's and my second (my third) child, Aldous Reuel Mark, was born the day after school let out. Our first child, Don, had had a hard birth, with Connie being in labor for three days. So when she said, "I think this is the day," I thought, "Yeah, sure." So I fiddled around, taking my time getting a baby-sitter for Don, and helping Connie do whatever she needed to do. Finally we left for the hospital, which was 30 miles away. Connie said a couple of times that she felt like the baby was coming, but I thought, "We'll get there and I'll wait two days." When we finally did get to the hospital, the receptionist said, "Oh, my God!" and rushed Connie away. In just a few minutes the doctor came down and said, "You have another son!" If I'd had a flat tire on the way, or got behind slow trucks, or something . . . Interesting to contemplate.

For some reason I cannot now remember I did not want to stay in LaPine another year. So I took a position teaching high school English in Madras, up the road about 70 miles or so from LaPine. Madras was a nice town and a good school. I had a rough time of it, though. Teaching is a difficult job to learn how to do well.

After two years at Madras, I decided to accept a position as teacher of slow learners at Reynolds High School just east of Portland. It was a good job at a fine school. I turned out to be quite an innovative teacher, initiating several new programs. And I had such good control of my students that the principal would come in to my room for his afternoon naps.

But money was very scarce for the family. I began moonlighting as a teacher of Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics. Before long I began to lose interest in my job at Reynolds—BIG mistake. After my third year at Reynolds I went with Evelyn Wood full time. Then discovered I did not like that, and was not good at it. I lost that job, then a job at a supermarket. This was a very bad period of my life. No job, three little kids, and my wife had to be hospitalized for mental illness (from which she never recovered). Eventually she and I went our separate ways, with me having custody of the kids.

Fortunately I received a position at Brookings, Oregon, on the southern Oregon coast. The kids and I moved there, and began the difficult task of getting our lives back in order. Which we were able to do.

The Fifth and Sixth Decades

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