Nothing is better than revisiting a memory that enhances that memory, builds on it and tells you everything you've told friends and family about a person and what they've meant in your life is more than true. I forgot half of the treasure I took away from my time as a student with Professor Robert J. White at Hunter College in the 1970s.
He taught me the classics and literature. Professor White is the coolest, smartest, funniest and warmest teacher I ever had and that goes all the way back to Mrs. Brown in P.S. 77's kindergarten in 1960.
There were 16,000 matriculating students at Hunter, we moved from class to class like cattle. Hard to make friends, most of us worked after school. But, if you were in a Professor White class something happened. Everybody felt it, we bonded, we talked to each other, he'd lead you through a subject with an intense quirky passion and you were compelled to go along, and you learned! Your interest grew, you wanted to please him, he cared too much for you to let him down.
My storytelling would be no where near as funny, clear or interesting without me knowing him. His detail was exquisite. He may be the funniest person I've ever met. My home life was chaotic during my time at Hunter. I had plenty of opportunity to self destruct. Professor White was the strongest and brightest light on my road. He triggered my passion, curiosity and love for dialogue in and about the classics, literature and film: Fellini, Pasolini, Truffaut, and on. I never read The New York Times until we were introduced. It was the only way to keep up with the references in his anecdotes.
I met Professor White at Hunter College this week for the first time in 33 years. We talked movies for two hours. How cool is that? I'm so glad he knows what he meant to me, and that his influence still runs through me.
Teach your children well. Well done, Professor White.