Here is a scan of a yearbook photo from 1973 of my science teacher, Mr. Bryan Dinkins. I wish I had paid more attention to my studies back then; of course, I didn't realize how much I used math and science in baking, sewing, weaving and almost everything else I do.
Yep, the gig's up. The cat's out of the bag, and I am not referring to my famous Chevy-advertising cat, Walter. I've been made.
If you read this column regularly, you may have noticed my science teacher, Mr. Dinkins, Mr. Bryan Dinkins. On Friday, I received a phone call from one Judy Dinkins, who, through some thorough detective work, deduced that I was the same Sue (Susan) Kaseman. How does one find someone they think they know in this electronic age. Well, first you read the paper, then you think, "I have to know that person." Then, remembering that I have mentioned Gackle before, Judy digs out a yearbook from I would surmise 1972 or '73. That provided my maiden name but not my contact info.
Somewhere along the line, Mrs. Dinkins, who also taught school in Gackle, recalled my mentioning Charity Lutheran Church, where her brother-in-law and his wife, Paul and Beryl Dinkins, attended as members. So, Judy called the church, and they gave her my phone number, and we had a delightful conversation.
During those 20 minutes or so on the phone, I discovered my influential science teacher passed away in 2006, at the early age of 62; used to live in Alaska, was an avid birder and was as brilliant as the "mad scientist" we all thought he was. That memory-stirring call triggered my brain's search engine. And off I went down memory lane.
Here I was, back at Gackle High School, slamming lockers and bounding up and down the worn wooden steps of an ancient three-story brick building, never paying as much attention to my teachers as I should have. Little did I know that someday I would be calling on geometry and biology as I sewed, wove and gardened. I guess growing old is part of my education.
It's hard to imagine that your teachers have lives outside of the classroom when you are a student. I remember Mr. Dinkins taking us to the park to practice keeping field notes; he also jumped off the table in the science classroom once for whatever reason I cannot recall at the moment. (This has been confirmed as a lesson in gravity.) He gave us the assignment to design a spaceship which most of us missed the mark as he said only a round spaceship could sustain life in the vast void above our heads. That's where I wanted to be – out the door, in the sky, experiencing all things not contained in our small community of Gackle. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars and Grogu.
Without realizing Mr. Dinkins lived in Alaska, he talked so much about the life contained in a tide pool; I have always wanted to go to Alaska. Maybe I will get there someday.
And as long as I am in the confessional mood, I will name-drop a few more of my acquaintances. After high school, I attended the North Dakota State School of Science – in the graphic arts program with Brian Unterseher from Hazen. One of our printing press instructors was John Carlson, who graduated from Garrison High School. I also worked in Garrison for Mr. Don Gackle for a short time.
Reminiscing is bittersweet and sometimes filled with regrets. You know, questions you didn't ask, acts of kindness left on the table, words you cannot take back. We are, after all, only human, and I have not yet learned something new each day of my life. That being said, the saddest quote I have ever come across is this African proverb, "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."
Now that's something to think about if you still have grandparents. Everyone has a story to tell, and life is so short, please don't pass up the opportunity to get to know someone or something new every day.
PS: Mrs. Dinkins (Judy), I found my gardening notebook and mechanical lead pencil, but not until Sunday afternoon. Thank you for the memories.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.