Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 24, 2018

Why I could never call him Curt

By David Eastburn | Jun 22, 2017

To the editor:

While working in my office, I received a text message from my wife telling me that Mr. Curt Hanson had passed away. I slumped at my desk. His death was sad, sad news, but it devastated me in another way as well. I never took the time to tell him his effect on me as my homeroom teacher at Fairfield High School.

In the fall of 1969, I checked into Fairfield High School as a new, sophomore student. I was, in the words of that great philosopher Bob Seger, “…a little too tall and could’ve used a few pounds.” I was more at home on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond than any social setting or classroom, and was very afraid of the new, larger school. Additionally, I was assigned the driver’s education teacher in his dark, basement room as my homeroom. He would probably assign the seating as boy-girl, I thought. A fate worse than death!

However, on the first day, Mr. Hanson greeted me with an infectious smile and, with an air of true authenticity, said, “Happy to have you at the high school!” Whew, I had at least one friendly face. As that first year went on, I found a teacher of great discipline and energy. Disciplined in the sense that he had expectations that he meant to hold me to and hold himself to as well. He used punishment sparingly and only for willful disobedience. He was liberal with his hall passes as long as you could convince him that you were going someplace you needed to go. He let me go to the gym a lot to shoot free throws because he said, “You know, you could really help the team if you made your free throws.”

He once gave me a hall pass to the library because he knew I liked to read about World War II and our history class just wasn’t covering that then. I found a book on the Battle of Britain. Then, Mr. Hanson and I got into a wonderful discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the British Spitfire and Hurricane fighters. He loved aviation. I dare say I learned more about history and aviation from Mr. Hanson than any history teacher. He wasn’t your typical driver’s education instructor.

Over the next three years, Mr. Hanson took great interest in me and in all of us. I remember how he would be the first to greet me on Monday when I had had a particularly good athletic performance the Friday before. “Dave, I am very proud of you,” he would say.

Also, he would gently confront me on Monday if my performance the Friday before had been less than stellar. “Dave, I know you will do better next time,” he would admonish me. It was a wonderful greeting and it was also meant to say that I had not lived up to expectations. Standards and expectations … discipline to do your best all the time.

I don’t remember saying goodbye on graduation. I fear I was more than ready to leave Fairfield. But after college and going half-way around the world supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States, I came back. Over the time, Mr. Hanson would stick his head in my office and with that smile ask me, “How you doin’?” His jokes got very corny as time went on, but he was always man in motion.

Our politics diverged, but he was ever a man of expectations and standards. There was much to admire. Recently, after telling his joke, he put his hand on my arm and said, “Dave you don’t have to call me ‘Mr. Hanson’ anymore.” I said, “Mr. Hanson, you know that is not possible for me to do. You are my teacher. I could never call you just ‘Curt.’” Unfortunately, I left it there. I did not take that opportunity to thank him for the impact he had on my life. Now, I’m devastated.

A man of expectations, standards and discipline. Thank you, Mr. Hanson.


–David Eastburn, Fairfield


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