Picture this: something to write about

I made this image of my eleventh grade Principles of Writing teacher Ruth Dishman from my seat in her class one day in the fall of 1979.

I write a lot.

I got started writing in 1978, which, for those of my readers who were born in the 21st Century, was an era of and typewriters and ink, an era of cable television that offered 12 channels, and an era when the funnest thing to do on a Friday night was drive around in circles at the local drive-in.

The first thing I legitimately wrote was a journal. Assigned by a free spirited tenth grade English teacher named Gil Hernandez, I wrote in it exactly as he had assigned, half a page once every three days.

But I liked it so much, I rapidly exceeded all expectations, and wrote at least a page in it every day, and sometimes several pages. I found that it was one thing I could do really well, and in which I was really interested.

But, not all writing is like that. When I was a junior in high school, I took Principles of Writing from a brilliant instructor named Ruth Dishman. She appreciated my efforts (”talent” is a term best reserved for adults), and liked reading my stuff.

Every fall, however, Dishman gave us a tough assignment: a paper on someone with a disability. Intended to teach us how to do some research and interviewing, I dreaded it the most. I didn’t dread the interviews (although I wish now that I had photographed them), but researching a paper and sitting down to write it seemed far less like the fun of writing and far more like actual work.

I’d like to say I dreaded actual work because I was young and lazy, but as my readers know, to this day I am always much happier when I am taking pictures, which seems like fun about 99.5% of the time.

On the other hand, if I could hop into the way-back machine to that day, I would make sure to create the most amazing piece of writing and journalism Dishman had ever seen with that paper.

Ruth Dishman and I are friends on social media. It doesn’t say her age, but it does indicate she has been married since 1959, so I expect she is 80 years old or more. I know she taught a lot of students like me a lot of good.

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