No one influenced my life more than Hubert Hahn did. He lived only a thirty-five-cent call away, but I never called him. No one influenced my life more than he did. Now he has gone and I do not think I ever told him.
I worked late yesterday and did not get home until after eight. We had a quick dinner and it was too late to start anything else, so at ten I got into bed with the newspaper I had never taken the time to read. The economic news was bad. I leafed through to the obituary page and my eye caught the little headline in boldface type.
I dropped the paper to the floor next to the bed and stared at the ceiling. Mr. Hahn was dead. Why hadn't I called him? I was surprised to find myself crying. I hadn't really seen Mr. Hahn for forty years, didn't even know he was " Dr. Hahn" now, but I had thought of him on almost every one of the days of those forty years.
My memory of exactly what he was like in school was incredibly clear to me. I remember every mannerism, the way he pulled at the crease of the knee of his pants when he sat on the edge of the desk. I even remember that he had only two suits in 1976. One was his old suit and one was good suit. He wore the old one for two days every week when the good one was at the cleaner's. He only made twenty seven hundred dollars a year teaching history in Albany, N.Y., then clothes were not a top priority of his. He left Albany in about 1985 to teach at a good private school in New Jersey, I wasn't surprised that the obituary called him an ENGLISH TEACHER. It didn't really matter what Mr. Hahn was called. He taught life and his subject was of secondary importance. When we were fourteen and fifteen, he talked to us as though we were human beings, not children. He talked about everything in class and just to make sure we knew he didn't think he was omnipotent.
How many teachers do you have in your life? I lay there wondering last night.
Between grade school, high school and college, if you are lucky enough to go to college, I suppose you have had about fifty teachers. Is that about right?
I don't remember much about some of mine, and nothing about what they were trying to teach me, but of those fifty, I had five who were very good and two who were great. Mr. Hahn was one of those. He didn't do a lot of extra talking, but when he talked he was direct and often brilliant. He was the only genuine philosopher I ever knew. He wasn't a teacher of philosophy, but a living, breathing philosophizer. He exuded wisdom, concern for the world and quite often a bad temper. Idiots irritated him, and it annoyed him when teenagers acted younger than he treated them.
I went to the service for him. I don't know why, really. There was no one there I knew, one phone call over the years would have meant more to him. A minister spoke, but it was standard stuff, and Mr.Hahn was not what most people would call a religious person, even though he wrote a book called " The Great Religions: Interpretations".
A young woman who taught with him spoke, and she brought the tears back to my eyes. He had touched her life in the 1990s as he had touched mine in the 1970-s.
Mr. Hahn could have taught at any college in the country, but he chose to stay at the secondary level. He didn't think teaching college people was any more important than teaching boys and girls fourteen to eighteen. He was the kind of person who gave teachers the right to be proud to be teachers. I just wish I had called or written to tell him how much he meant to my life.
B. Answer the questions:
1. Why did the author regret about his relationship with
2. Why did the author write about Mr. Hahn's clothes?
3. Why was the name of the subject that Mr. Hahn
taught not important to the author?
4. What was Mr. Hahn's attitude to himself?
5. What kinds of students bothered Mr. Hahn?
6. Approximately how many years did Mr. Hahn teach?
C. Discuss the following:
1. What do you remember best about the teachers you
2. What do you think the most important quality in a
3. Are there things that you wish you had said to
someone but did not? Why did not you say those
4. Why is that we so often don't say the things that we
10. Match a line in A with a line in B:
A.advantages and disadvantages
o on the plus side
o for example
o all in all
o in conclusion
o I think that
o what is more
o for one thing
o last of all
B. pros and cons
o another point is that
o one advantage is that
o for instance
o to sum up
o all things considered
o in my opinion
o one disadvantage is that
o in spite of
11.*** Work in small groups. Discuss the following questions using as many expressions from the previous task as possible:
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