Over the years, I have written about several teachers who had clear impacts on how I learned and what I came to be as a man. (Assuming they would be willing to be associated with that)  Today, while checking out at the local grocery store, I was gazing over the tabloids/magazines and I spied the October 2016 edition of Reader’s Digest.

I immediately thought of Bernie Freeman. I then added the issue to my purchase.

image-4Bernie was my seventh grade English teacher. If my memory is correct,  it was 1972-1973, the first year the Warren Twp Middle School was open.  I was not a very popular kid.  I was tall, skinny, uncoordinated and always the last kid picked for sports teams. On top of that, my dad was the police chief in town, so I wasn’t considered cool.  I made up for that deficit by being a voracious reader.  No regrets and no hard feelings.

Mr. Freeman was a collector of Reader’s Digest Books and I suppose there were over a hundred of them on the shelves in his classroom.  Bernie nutured my love of reading, a short-lived interest in Latin  and also coached  me to winning the local and regional, Optimist Oratorical Contest. I recall  the theme that year was “Listen World.”

Bernie was one of the teachers I stayed in contact with until the time of his death in 2003.  Bernie, Ann Humphrey and myself would get together for lunch 2-3 times a year during most of the 1990’s, before I moved out of the area. It was my way of saying Thank you.    When we bought our funeral home in 1999, it came with a small library full of Reader’s Digest, Condensed Books.  Another reminder.


A few years ago, while home visiting my parents, dad and I took a trip to St. Mary’s Cemetery in Plainfield, NJ. We found Bernie’s grave and took  a photo of his headstone, which  hung in my office in Aiken for several years. It was a daily reminder of the importance of reading. . . and how a humble man can make a big impact.

May his memory be eternal and from perusing the issue, I’m confidant that you will find some material within  these pages in the near future.



About Ray V.

Living between Aiken & Nashville, TN, USA, I like to share what I am looking at, thinking about or listening to. I refer to this as the view out my window. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in Gratefulness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Gratitude

  1. Wonderful post Ray

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rachel says:

    Oh Ray! I had Mr. Freeman for seventh grade English and he taught me (us) how to speak in public – I adored him. He was gentle and kind, and smart, and genuinely cared for his students, all of them, even the ones I knew made a little fun of him. What a lovely tribute here, thank you for that. For what it’s worth, my mom swam with your dad over at the pool at the fellowship village for some years, and my dad is Dave Peterson, former WHRHS Guidance Counselor. Thank you again for this little reminder of some of the amazing teachers we had in the Warren schools. ❤ Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rachel I remember your dad. What year did you graduate from HS?


      • Rachel says:

        1981… just a couple of years behind you. My folks are amazingly still healthy and happy, commuting (as only grandparents can “commute”) between Warren, NJ and Leverett, MA where both my sister and I live with our families. So great to find your blog and this post and I have subscribed to read more! Warm regards, R 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Reading And Writing And The Places They Have Taken Me – Life In My Tin Can

  4. I keep in touch with my classmates and teachers from Helix High school through a facebook group. Sadly more posts these days announce who just passed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting twist… our class president, VP and Sec-Treas. All died within five years of graduation, so we have not had too many activities as a group. One of the guys stepped up and has been working on the reunion. I have lived in different parts of the Country and have not been all that involved.


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