Monday, March 19, 2007

Today I decided to write about the people who have taken the time to help me broaden my horizons. Some of them are teachers that I had in school and still others taught me without even knowing it.

The very most important teachers I have had in my entire life are my parents. Even though they are gone, they remain with me in a very constant way. They built the base on which all my other teachers were able to instill knowledge. My parents dealt with life with humor, kindness and above all unconditional love. Their lives were not without sadness or drama, however, how they handled that sadness and drama taught me so very much. There was also much happiness packed into their lives as well. Without that I would never be the person I am.

With my school teachers, we'll start with Mr. Thornburg. He was my freshman English teacher. I slumped my way into his class just after having my braces put on. I didn't want anyone to know I had them. I handed him my note from the office and he smiled at me with his crooked teeth and horn rimmed glasses and said "Smile because in a year you are going to be dazzling." This from a man who at that time must have been at least 60 (ancient in my eyes at that time). The lesson he taught me? You are beautiful! Smile!

Another freshman teacher I had was Mrs. Grundy, for my first year of typing (yes on a manual typewriter). Mrs. Grundy had bad breath. The freshman of my class (including me) decided to wrap up a bottle of mouthwash and put it on Mrs. Grundy's desk. Imagine our dismay when she opened that package and darted out of the classroom tears streaming down her face. The lesson she taught me? Be very careful what you do in jest because it can and will haunt you for the rest of your life. ( I apologize Mrs. Grundy. I was careless of your feelings and that was so very, very wrong).

Then there was Mrs. Allison of General Business class. She instilled in us the knowledge of how the business world worked. We studied advertising, work skills (which is why I took typing and shorthand) and the proper way to dress for an interview. She also had the no chewing gum rule and would make you put your gum on your nose for her entire class if she caught you chewing it.
Lesson learned here? How you present yourself the very first time can make or break if you get a job. Don't chew gum!

Sophomore year I had Mrs. Ross. She was my second year typing teacher. She tortured us with number drills, number drills, number drills and still more number drills. She also killed us on 4 page contracts with carbon paper (yes I am an old fart). Because of Mrs. Ross I was a whiz on the typing test when I applied for my first job as a mortgage typist where we used 4 page contracts with you guessed it, carbon paper. I was also a whiz on my typing test when I applied at the phone company (where I worked for 17 years). Those number drills saved my life as a service representative typing in orders for service, repair visits, etc. because, you guessed it, numbers, numbers, numbers!

Sophomore year I also had the pleasure of having Mr. Babcock for History. Now if school is anything like when I went, you learn up to the civil war and anything beyond that is never covered. It's the same history class over and over again. Not with Mr. Babcock. We studied the Kennedy assassination (which was heady stuff as I was in Mr. Babcock's class in 1975 which was a scant 12 years after the assassination). We watched the Zapruder film over and over again and scoured the library for any and all information about that day. We had to write a paper drawing our own conclusion as to what really happened. Lesson learned here? Your opinion is valuable and history is destined to repeat itself if you don't learn its lessons. It didn't hurt that Mr. Babcock set all the sophomore girls hearts aflutter either.

Junior year for me was all about band. I played cornet from the time I was in third grade. Mr. Bearden was my band director for 3 of my four years in high school. Mr. Bearden taught me that hard work did get you ahead. By practicing and refining my skills I was able to withstand trumpet challenges from other players vying for my spot because I was nitpicky. When I sight read music during challenges I was the one who saw the specifics and time and time again it won those challenges for me. Lesson learned here? Details are very important and can mean the difference between winning and losing.

During the summer between junior and senior year we moved to California. I was to be the editor of my high school paper but with moving that opportunity disappeared. So I went to my new school in California and became the editorial page editor of the newspaper and joined band.
School in California was less structured than attending school in Phoenix. The schedules were set on a seven day week and we had modules of free time. That time was spent honing my writing skills and cornet playing skills. The band was one of the best in the state of California and we went to many competitions. We won some and we lost some. I also competed state wide in a writing contest held by a local San Diego newspaper. I came in 10th in the editorial competition. Lesson learned? Competition is healthy and necessary. It helps you accept your triumphs and disappointments in your later life. Always winning teaches you nothing.

Onward to real life. Over the last 20 some odd years I've had many teachers, some professional and some not professional. I've had 3 careers. The first was with the phone company for 17 years. Here I learned about bureaucracy and how to survive and flourish in it.

My next career was as a medical transcriptionist for 6.5 years. On this job I learned that regardless of how hard I worked more was always expected and that there would never be a pay raise because I did an excellent job. Working for a very small business is much different than working for a bureaucracy.

My third career is the one I have now. I am a vintage clothing store owner, albeit my storefront is on the internet. Over the last 4 years I've learned from such knowledgeable people as Artizania, Scott, Daniel, Panda, Joel, Ikwewe, Holly, Joan, Betty Blackbent and a score of other people on the Ebay Vintage, clothing and accessories board. I lurked on that board for a good year before I ever posted a question. I soaked up their knowledge like a sponge. Now it's been said recently that we don't need these people. We can learn what they know from books. Well, I don't agree. These people aren't paid to come to the ebay board and spread their knowledge. They do it because they'd rather see the people there learn the correct information and build the vintage community. I'm also learning from the Vintage Fashion Guild members as well. Jonathan, Hollis, Lizzie and plenty of others add to my knowledge of vintage clothing and accessories on a daily basis. These people are more valuable than gold. They understand the value of educating the up and coming vintage sellers.

I've expanded my business beyond my wildest dreams. I've had very good experiences listening to my "gut." Very recently, as a matter of fact on Saturday, I applied for membership to the Evintage Society against the feelings of my "gut." On Sunday I was emailed that I had been turned down for membership. Evintage Society does not tell you why you were turned down, just that you are. At first I was bewildered. Had I done something to offend those on the new membership committee. Was I not a hard working individual? What possible reason could there be for not accepting me, a former Ebay seller with 100% positive feedback? Lesson learned here? Listen to your gut! If it doesn't feel right then it isn't for you.

So on I go learning my life lessons and learning more about the wonderful world of vintage clothing and accessories. I'm hoping that the "old guard" from the Ebay Vintage clothing and accessories board will start posting more often. I for one miss my "teachers" very much.

Remember by your actions and words you too are someone's teacher. Choose your words wisely because the internet will record them forever!

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.