Friday, March 28, 2014

Good-bye Mary Ann

My eleventh-grade English III teacher passed away this past week, while I was doing ukulele camp. The guy who maintains the connections to the class of '65 sent us a note, saying she was ill,  sent home from the hospital to hospice care, and before we could try to get into contact, she was gone. Only ten years older than my wife and I, who were both her students before we started dating.

I didn't maintain a strong connection with her after high school, though I did send her copies of all my books when they hit the racks. My very first science fiction short story was an assignment for her class, and she was the first person to read any fiction I'd written. She was a gorgeous, sassy, sharp-witted woman, and told me she was impressed, with the story. Given that I was a sixteen-year-old pimply-faced four-eyed geek, that was enough reason to want to be a writer right there. 

Mary Ann married a judge, and they had a daughter who was about the same age as our son. We bumped into her and her family a few times when we lived in Baton Rouge after high school. She retired to raise her daughter.

When we went back to the 25th reunion, because we happened to be in town, I saw her husband in the lobby and went to introduce myself.

Oh, he said, you're the guy who sends her all those books?

My ego soared right into the clouds: Why, yes, yes I am.

And Judge Brown said, Yeah, she reads them and says, 'Who taught him to write like that?!' and throws them across the room!

My ego's wings melted off and it plummeted into the sea ...

He laughed. Just kidding, he said.

No, No, I said, I'm going to be dining off that story for a long time. And I did, and I still am.

Mary Ann Brown encouraged me-and a lot of others, it seems–just at the time when it was of major import. Would I have become a writer without that? Maybe. Probably. But it certainly gave me a hope I might not have had otherwise.

Thanks, Mary Ann. Rest in peace. You did good while you were here.



Steve, that was a beautiful story about a beautiful lady. Cooper Langlois Knecht , class of '71 with your sister Becky and Maria is my sister that graduated with you in '65. Again that was a lovely story.

Brian Thibodeau said...

Hold on tight - because you'll look up and they are gone. Sorry for the loss of a mentor

Amis Lynne said...

Wonderful to read Steve. She's still working to help us keep important links.

Charles Watson said...

Steve, fantastic article about a sweet lady that meant a lot to all of us growing up. I was on selected for a jury years ago and Bill was the judge. As we were being seated for the trial I wrote a note to the bailiff and asked him to give it to the judge. It said, "tell Mary Ann hi for me". He stopped the proceedings and called me out of the jury box to go back in his office so I could talk to her on the phone.

Charles Watson
Class of '64

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve! Linda Stilley Aaron or Laurie from
"Oklahoma". ...class of '68. I just saw your article about Miss Brown and enjoyed it so much. I stayed very close to her ...having lunch with her as often as we could. She never forgot her students and would show up whenever a parent or sibling passed away to pay her respects. She made our 45 reunion last summer and we were so glad to take one last picture with her. We were really blessed to have had her at Central.
Tell Dianne I said hello and take care! Linda