The worst year of my dad’s schooling came in the seventh grade. This was in the late 1930s in rural East Texas. It took him 60 years to see the value in it.
He had to have his appendix removed, which put him in a hospital for one week and at home for another week. His dad had to take out a loan to pay for the surgery and care — $125.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. At the end of the school year, Dad’s teacher, Hubert Wheat, failed Dad in school.
“It wasn’t on grades either,” Dad wrote 60 years later. Wheat “told Dad I was too young was the reason he failed me, so I had to do the 7th grade over.”
And then Dad wrote something interesting in a spiral binder almost 60 years later.
“As I write this, something was revealed to me I had never in my life thought about. I probably would never have met Hilda Noble in my senior year” if he had not been required to repeat seventh grade.
He and Hilda would eventually write letters to each other while he was in the Army in the Pacific at the end of and after World War II. They married when he returned home.
Also, Dad seemed to do well in school after being held back. “I enjoyed school pretty good the remainder of my school days.”
This also makes me wonder something else. If Dad had finished school one year earlier, he probably would have entered the Army one year earlier in 1943. As it was, he never saw combat in the Pacific because he didn’t make it in time. Graduate one year earlier, and my tender-hearted dad may have had a very different life.
So, here’s a family tip of the hat to teacher Hubert Wheat, whom I’m sure has passed on by now. Wheat angered my dad at the time and for a long time afterward, but that teacher also paved the way for having better days in school, avoiding combat, and acheiving success in life and love.
For those of you with children in the same situation as my dad those years ago, it may just be one of the greatest blessings of your life and your child’s life.