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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017
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Aron Rothstein
Toledo, Oregon, USA


Persistence of Memory

In seventh grade, we knew Mr. Lin as the campus gardener. Born in Sumatra, of Chinese descent, he seemed mantled in mystery; rumor had it that he had been an intelligence operative in Burma. If we firsties were amid his plantings, fetching a ball or having a snowball fight, sudden cries of "Mr. Lin! Mr. Lin!" might go up. Everyone would run for cover.

But Mr. Lin also taught English. In ninth grade I walked through his door into a chamber more conservatory than classroom; student desks had potted plants, even large trees, perched on them. It was in that room I first heard of Basho, learned to read the Bible as literature, and developed a love of words, of language for its own sake.

– Anyone know what lassitude means? . . . No one? Well, it's the attitude of a pregnant collie.

– Come on, Mr. Lin. There's no word for that. What about a pregnant . . . uh . . . uh . . . beagle?

– Beatitude.

Forty years on, I read his name in the paper. That idiosyncratic, charismatic teacher, whose lessons set me on my life's course, had taken advantage. His explanation: Times were different — I loved those boys.

Who lives in my memories? Who owns them?

Times crossword —
a corrected answer
changes all

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