My first exposure to Mr. Ronald Paine as a teacher was in seventh grade, which was my last year attending the Richland school before the new high school consolidating the Eastern Lebanon County communities was built. That year he taught both English, for which he was qualified, and health, for which he was not.
I say he was not qualified to teach health because I’m not aware of any specific qualifications he may have had for the subject, and also because I now know that he passed along some quite inaccurate information. That he was required to teach the subject was not his fault, as the school didn’t have a very large faculty; that he passed along some bogus information was also probably not his fault because I think he was just reading it from the textbook that was supplied.
Skip ahead to my Junior year in high school, and once again he was my English teacher. He was also in charge of the Junior and Senior class plays, and in both years I managed to get only a relatively small part. But as the saying goes, there are no small parts, only small actors, so I shouldn’t complain, especially since the part I got in the Senior play was that of the narrator which had been taken by Fred Allen on Broadway and George Burns in the movie version, so there were some great laugh lines. I even got to double up as a reporter in a brief scene at the end of the first act where my reading of the line, “Yes, where did you spend the night?” always cracked up Pam Barry (who had the lead role) during rehearsals.
But I digress.
I have a number of little memories of Mr. Paine, but two main ones. The first occurred during an English class when he was writing something on the board as he was describing an assignment that he was about to give us. I’m not sure just what prompted it, but for some reason he was admitting that he did not assign us enough essays to write and that therefore we weren’t getting enough experience writing.
“You’ll curse us when you get to college,” he said.
From somewhere in the middle of the classroom came a voice, loud and clear: “We’re cursing you already!”
Mr. Paine stopped writing on the board. The classroom suddenly became eerily quiet. He turned around to see who had said that.
But I recognized the voice. It was Debbie Miller.
And for the next couple minutes Mr. Paine and Debbie Miller had a mini-debate about how he should be allocating his time teaching. I don’t recall exactly what was said, but I do remember that he mentioned that activities such as the Junior and Senior class plays ate up a lot of his time.
Ronald Lee Paine was born on 22 December 1937, the only child of Ethel Keener and Leroy Paine. That marriage apparently didn’t last very long, as the record shows that beginning in 1940 Ethel would bear the first of what would be six children with Charles Kreiser.
By the way, Ethel used to come to my mother’s beauty shop in Richland. She never passed along any tidbits about her son, but my mother repeated everything I ever said about Mr. Paine to her (which wasn’t too much or too embarrassing, thank goodness).
Sadly Ronald Paine died in 1998 at the age of 60, and according to his obituary at the time of his death he was an associate manager at Big Lots in Cleona.
The other memory I’m saving for its own blog post.