Richmond, Ky. —
“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.”
— Tony Bennett
A Facebook pop up reminded me to send a birthday greeting to my eighth grade teacher, Jerry Vogt in Cincinnati.
I did. Only to find that he died six months previous.
I’m embarrassed that Facebook encouraged me to send birthday greetings to a dead person.
One of my Facebook friends was murdered.
Until I “defriended” her, Facebook would send messages, saying “you have not talked to Amanda in some time, post on her wall.”
Facebook plays an interesting part in my life. I was a very early adopter and have thousands of Facebook friends. It’s how I keep up with people I have not seen in decades and people I see every day.
My daughter’s fiancé proposed via Facebook. Simpler, cheaper, and as effective as the “down on one knee” method I chose.
Facebook gave me a unique opportunity: the chance to say thank you to a man who made a difference in my life. Going back to eighth grade, adolescence, hit me hard. In a few months, I went from being a shy, conforming kid, to a loud, cocky smart-aleck.
I was a teacher’s worse nightmare.
Jerry Vogt could handle it in a very unique way. The first thing Mr. Vogt did was isolate the troublemakers. He took the four guys smarting off and put them in a row far away from the other students.
He obviously spotted potential. The four of us, included a future dentist, a big time home builder and a high ranking executive at Proctor and Gamble. Looking back, we were the four who had the greatest degree of professional achievement and notoriety.
Like carefully breaking a horse, Jerry did not stifle our energy and creativity. He worked to channel it in positive directions. He was imaginative in how he kept us in line. I was smarting off in music class so he had me stay after class and sing to the rest of the school.
That backfired on him. I was supposed to sing 10 songs but by the third, I had found my stride and my rousing version of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” forced Jerry to pull out the hook. I was enjoying it too much.
That was my maiden voyage in front of an audience. I’ve always been comfortable out front in the 40 years since then. It’s hard to be pompous after you’ve sang Tony Bennett to an entire grade school. No one who saw it ever forgot it.
One of my classmates was married 20 years later and the band played the song in my honor.
Although he had some traditional techniques, like sending me to the principal’s office and informing my father, who threatened to have me rubbed out, you could see that Jerry was a pretty cool guy who “got” the eighth-graders and found a way to communicate with us.
By the end of the year, I calmed down, came off the segmented row and back to the regular classroom. Jerry had me ready for a tough, Catholic high school were my previous behavior would have had me expelled in a week.
Jerry got out of teaching when I was in college and had a long career as a Cincinnati court reporter. I had a college internship in the courthouse where he worked and we had lunch.
He told me the letter I wrote to evangelist Oral Roberts for a business writing class was the funniest thing that happened during his teaching career. Tony Bennett was a close second.
When Leslie Kennedy Wagner, one of my classmates found me on Facebook, she had also found Jerry and reconnected us. He took pride in my career accomplishments and I was able to thank him for being there at a turning point in my life. The last time we wrote, I told him I was engaged to an elementary school principal, who I married three weeks ago.
Since he knew how much time I spent in our principal’s office, he appreciated the irony in that. His passing did not draw a lot of headlines, but he was given an opportunity to mold young lives and made the most of it. I’m glad I was able to thank him when he could see the finished product, and in a weird way, glad that Facebook sent the after-death birthday notice.
It reminded me of what Mr. Vogt had done.
The Lord speaks in mysterious ways but I never thought that Facebook would be one of them. But since Tony Bennett and Oral Roberts are on my list of life changers, I guess Facebook can be too.
DON MCNAY is a columnist for the Richmond (Ky.) Register. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richmond, Ky. —
“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.”
Readmission to hospitals accounts for majority of health care costs
The holidays are a time of family, friends, traditions and gratitude. When a loved one has a terminal illness, the season can also mean added stress, fatigue, and financial burdens. Most families would not want to spend the holiday season in and out of an emergency room, yet nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of release. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this translates to $17.4 billion in Medicare spending on patients whose return trips could have been avoided.
HealthCare.gov: A Bad First Impression
It’s often been said that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. During the launch of HealthCare.gov more than two months ago, the majority of Americans experienced a terrible first impression of the Affordable Care Act and its ability to deliver what the president had promised since its passage.
Good or bad, it is incredibly difficult to change a person’s opinion or feeling on something. As noted pundit Peggy Noonan said during ABC’s “This Week,” “Even programs can get reputations. You can get a sense that something isn’t working.” The initial problems with the website, including its inability to handle high traffic, error messages, long wait times and reported security issues, is a perfect example of a poor first impression. Now it continues to cause many to distrust the website.
One of my constituents recently shared, “I am afraid to even use the website because my personal information might get hacked.” Another said, “Even if the site would work properly, I do not agree with Obamacare.” I’ve received many other emails and stories from people who distrust the federal government’s ability to run and manage healthcare. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans still think the law should be modified or repealed.
Editor stranded in ice storm experiences truest form of humanity
A foolish drive left me alone with my car stuck on a steep hill of a back road, covered in ice with temperatures falling into the low 20s. But as is the case with any horror story, heroes emerged to aid the helpless.
Downtown development could bring north, south sides together
Peter Ackroyd is a British historian who has written extensively about the city of London. One of his most recent works, “Thames: The Biography” details the extensive role that that waterway has played in the history of the United Kingdom.
The word Thames is one of the oldest names recorded in England, Ackroyd reports, and may owe its origins to the ancient Celtic word for running water. Julius Caesar constructed a bridge over the Thames in 54 BC to facilitate his invasion of the British Isles, and it was on the banks of the Thames at Runnymede where King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
When Queen Elizabeth II commemorated her 50 years on the British throne several years ago by leading a regatta down the Thames, she was part of a thousand-year-old tradition of British monarchs sailing on that waterway.
HEY HINK: Government advice goes against centuries of examples
Of all the harebrained advice I’ve heard doled out over the years this has to be the dumbest: Sign on the dotted line and “don’t worry about the price tag.” This is precisely the message our federal government is belching out to America’s young people to persuade them to sign up for Obamacare. It reminds me of the Three Stooges episode where Moe tells Curly not to worry about the explosion because “dynamite always blows down.” The image of a grasping federal bureaucracy enticing young Americans to sign onto the most aggressive power grab in this country’s history while murmuring “don’t worry about the price tag,” is almost too far-fetched to believe. Unfortunately, it’s all too true.
Good Samaritans aid motorists during storm
Thursday afternoon, a mixture of sleet and snow fell on Edmond, creating slick and hazardous streets in parts of the city.
An example of legalized corruption
Almost one year ago, Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, asked me to assist him in bringing an end to what appeared to be a practice of legalized corruption. Having worked with Jolley on numerous modernization and efficiency measures, I have learned to pay close attention to his concerns. He frequently proposes cost-saving and efficiency reforms, and his proposals are taken seriously by the Legislature. Jolley had received reports from whistleblowers who exposed extremely disturbing abuses and he wanted to work on legislation to stop the practice.
LETTER: Student urges leaders to not wait on entitlement reform
To the Editor:
I am 28 years old and will only be just older than 40 by the time Medicare and Social Security programs are projected to fail. This is very concerning for young people like myself who are paying into this system and likely will not see any benefits from it. I 100 percent agree that some serious reform is needed to strengthen these programs. I think it is also important for lawmakers to help create laws that protect the privately insured from insurance companies dropping or disqualifying people from coverage. I believe this would help to keep many who can afford private health care from having to rely on Medicare and Social Security funds.
Grandparents of disabled child ‘now have hope’
An Oklahoma scholarship program for special-needs children is once again under attack.
“A motley crew of plaintiffs has filed a lawsuit asking the Oklahoma courts to toss out the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for students with disabilities,” writes Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulos. “This renewed attempt to sever a lifeline for a small group of disabled students is vindictive because these plaintiffs know that these children suffered horribly in public schools. The program enables these children to escape an environment of bullying, ineffective instruction, and profound neglect and find specialized schools where they can blossom and reveal the beauty of their true nature.”
LETTER: Volunteers make Thanksgiving dinner successful
To the Editor:
How do you thank 711 people for helping you? On Thanksgiving Day my belief in the goodness of man and that Edmond has the most giving citizens was reinforced.
Starting on the Saturday before that day, I met the first ones as they worked diligently to clean equipment in preparation for cooking the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner. More people came to three sites on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to cook and carve.
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