Academic Child. A Memoir by Hazard Adams

By Hazard Adams

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McCuskey saw as he exited his car a small man in overalls and, assuming he was a janitor, asked him to help with the bags. When the job was completed he tipped the man. At the first meeting of the faculty he learned that the janitor was in fact head of the English department. Bleakney was a man of a variety of interests and absolutely no intellectual arrogance. He believed that getting a student to read anything was better than the student’s not reading. He took each student where he found him and worked from there.

There we were induced to engage in a water-witching experiment and found ourselves solemnly pacing across the yard carrying forked boughs, which seemed by their behavior to indicate a rich aquifer beneath. While this was happening I do not believe Bleakney ever smiled. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a smile on his face. My mother reported to me at about this time that Bleakney declared he had easily mastered doing two things simultaneously and was now working on three. Of his teaching I remember today not a lot, most clearly a disagreement I had with him over the emphasis to be put on one phrase in a speech I was to give.

Her previous owner, proprietor of a collie farm, declared that Queen steadfastly refused to allow male collies to breed with her and had never barked. Freed from the farm, she was soon seduced by what seems to have been a large German shepherd and produced five pups. She even began to bark on occasion, though once when I walked in my sleep she roused my parents not by barking but by insistent nosing and whining. I was found at an open upstairs window. We kept one of the pups, Chinook, a splendidly intelligent animal.

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