Mr. Paschall Was “Gooder” Than Most!

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 09:36 AM.

            Have you heard that old saying, “Those who can, do…..those who can’t, teach?”

            Mr. Ratliffe Pascahall and his wife, Velna Gray, came into my life in 1960. They “moved in” just a little ways up Stonewall Street from us into a house across from the grammar school. I was going into the seventh grade. And let me tell you, I was so frightened by the unknowns of junior high that I was completely oblivious to the impact that move would have on the rest of my life!

            They had three sons like stepping stones. Douglas was in the tenth grade. David was a freshman and Martin was one year ahead of me. They were gifted students, terrific friends and special mentors, not just to me, but to an entire student body. I didn’t, of course, realize then but I have spent a lifetime understanding more each day that children like this don’t “turn out” by accident. They had parents that knew something about life, motivation, communication, expectations, contributions and a healthy respect for people, places and things.

            Miss Velna Gray taught junior high social studies. She could make studying the building of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River exciting and interesting. You try that sometime! And she was the first person ever not related to me to pull me aside and tell me I had special ability. “Kesley, you have a great sense of learning and the intelligence to comprehend it all. Please don’t cheat yourself in the high school days and life ahead.” Maybe she told lots of students the same thing. But I never forgot it. I majored in history in college in large part because of the interest she raised in me about the world around us.

            Mrs. Paschall would have been a success in any endeavor she chose. She had the spirit and the will to do about anything. The fact that she could handle Mr. Paschall AND David and Martin (Doug didn’t need as much attention) was testimony to that! Her choosing to teach was an everlasting credit to our school, our community and countless lives just like mine. 

            Mr. Paschall taught high school biology, shop and agriculture. He never told me I was anything special. If you gave a wrong answer……especially if it was way south of the mark, he’d kinda stare around the room like you’d just dropped in from another planet, finally his eyes would narrow in on the culprit, “Did you come to learn today, or did you just come to be entertained!”

            The maddest I ever saw him, besides the time he whipped David and Martin for being late to school, was over a blooming frog. He had me and Bobby Jackson carefully tie this live frog he picked up somewhere to a board. We were supposed to take a scalpel and lightly scrape the skin off one hind leg so the class could better study the blood circulation. We had the frog’s leg stretched too tight or we dug a little too deep—the leg popped off! We had cut the thing in two! Mr. Paschall shook for a while and then turned red, “I selected,” his words were a cross between torrid anger and abject disbelief as he repeated them over and over, “the two best men I had for the job”.

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