Sunday, July 10, 2005


Menagerie (Zoo) by Kenney Mencher
Kenney's into whispering these days. I asked him about it, and here's his response. Now I'd like to know how he's managed in one painting to recapture my eighth grade social studies teacher, Bud Camfield (that's him in the blue suit) and the chick from down the hall in my dorm. I thought the world of her back then because she'd hug you just for asking, and she felt like a full body pillow. But back to Bud Camfield. He'd gone a little goofy in the head, which is why the school district demoted him from principal to teacher. I thought the world of him, too, and not because he'd give us hugs. Even in the 70s, teachers weren't that dumb. No, Mr. Camfield rocked because he once took me aside and said, "Doug, you and I are the two greatest people I know. You're special and I'm special." Which would have been, you know, a real Mr. Rogers moment, except he followed it up with, "And don't leave your education to the schools. You're better than that. You have to look for culture, Doug. Listen to music, read the classics." And then he wandered off, talking to himself. I took his advice to heart. When I got home that day, I ransacked my parents' record collection looking for something that might qualify as a 'classic'. Hmm. Barbra Streisand? Petula Clark? Andy Williams? Finally, I found something that looked suspiciously high brow: George Gershwin's An American in Paris. All orchestral, no words -- this had to be culture. Shortly thereafter, I hit the library and somehow found Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography. In time, that led me to The Agony and the Ecstacy, as well as someone's biography of Da Vinci. I picked up a Shakespeare collection and forced myself through Julius Caesar. That summer, I read Crime and Punishment, The Stranger, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and a whole bunch of other great stuff besides. Thanks, Mr. Camfield. D.


Blogger Gabriele C. said...

And there you say you read only pulp fiction. ;) One could argue that Cellini is a bit like it, but certainly not Dostoyevsky.

Teachers like him are worth a lot. I had one of that ilk in Biology and Chemistry which turned into my favourite subjects besides History and Literature. I even considered studying Chemistry (it would have pleased my father) but I just had too many interests, and my final subject choices left more time to do other stuff besides.

7/11/2005 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Nowadays I primarily read pulp (although I just bought Foucault's Pendulum on Amazon -- did you hear that? That was the sound of me sniffing snootily). I've read more than a few classics in my time. Maybe even 5% of what you've read. Maybe.

7/11/2005 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Back when I was reading Dune for the first time, I told my mother (who is not an SF fan -- that particular gene is on my dad's side) that I'd decided I should read some of the classics. She rolled her eyes and declined further comment.

7/12/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Stamper in LV said...

I enjoyed reading what you wrote about Camfield. There are so few teachers like that.
Stamper in Vegas

7/12/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hey Stamper --

Doesn't that look just like him? I can't remember if you ever had him as a teacher or not.

7/12/2005 04:42:00 PM  
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