Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I believe that Mr. Stodola (Joe) was a 6th grade teacher at Magee, while I was there. But when the Two Rivers school system put all the 6th grades at Clarke, Mr. Stodola joined me there for its inaugural 6th grade year.

I didn't meet up with Mr. Stodola until 7th grade. After one year of 6th graders, he was moved up. He taught science to the 7th grade, and math to the 8th grade. I had him both years. Science was 2nd hour. Math (and homeroom) was 1st hour.

For other stories about Stodola, see my entries on Kevin Dehne, B.J. Lutterman, Jeff Messerman, Jenny Malley, Cory Schultz, Wade Wachholz, Chris Storlie, Randy Ertman, and probably several others.

Stodola seemed like a decent man. But he also seemed to have a hard time relating to students. But man, the guy could tell stories. A week wouldn't go by where Stodola would rock back and forth on his heels, and say, "I once knew a man..." I remember him telling us about some football player (perhaps on his high school team) who jumped through the round paper thing coming onto the field, caught his cleats on it, then tumbled to the ground. Of course who can forget his story about the guy with the glass eye? On a very cold day, he went into a diner. When the waitress came by, he said, "It's so cold, I think I froze my eye." Then he took a spoon and tapped it on his glass eye. The waitress nearly fainted. I remember once that B.J. kind of poked fun at him at some point about all his stories. Stodola got defensive and insisted that they were all true. B.J. wasn't doubting him however. He just kidded him about them.

Stodola had really big arms. He needed them at lunch one day in 7th grade. I'm not sure what exactly happened. But class of 1988's Bill Tadych got out of control, and had to be "escorted" to the office. By escorted, I mean dragged while trying to fight every step of the way. It took Stodola, Mr. Ashenbrenner and a third teacher to physically handle him. We didn't see Bill again for a few days.

I generally got along with the guy. Although I don't think he understood me. I don't think he understood a lot of kids. It was sort of like he expected everyone to be mature and act like adults. Of course one can't expect kids to act like adults all the time. It seemed like he just couldn't grasp that fact.

I'm not sure when exactly Stodola left Clarke. But he's no longer there. In fact, he now appears to be the principal of Holy Cross School in Mishicot. It's a private, Catholic school. I believe he's lived in Mishicot for many years.


At Wed Jun 14, 06:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

Mr. Stodola had a phrase he used to use when he disagreed with students' humor. I believe it was something like, "well you can laugh and you can snicker, but when it happens to you, it won't be so funny."

Another thing, he so reminded me of my uncle. Judging by his last name, he probably had Bohemian ancestry like me (Podhola, see the connection?). I have an uncle that had similar hair, wore creased polyester slacks, and played drums in a polka band. I don't think Mr. Stodola played drums but the similarity was there. Don't know why I mentioned that, it just seemed relavent.

At Wed Jun 14, 08:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Mr. Stodola had many favorite phrases. In addition to those listed here, there was also, "...And that is essentially it." and "That's not the issue!"

He also used to do this weird lower-lip-biting thing when he got mad. He would also crack his yardstick against the table to show that he was really pissed. It would be really loud.

I remember John Steltz doing an impression of him for about 10 minutes in front of the class in 7th grade. Joe went from politely amused to slightly annoyed to "I give up" over the course of John's routine.

At Wed Jun 14, 09:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

Y'know, a lot can be said about this guy but when it gets down to brass tacks, he was actually a pretty decent fellow. Like Burt said, he seemed generally perplexed why we all acted like such bastards but hey...it was Clarke. 'nuff said?

I recall him genuinely liking me as a person and a student in 6th grade and, quite frankly, I was a bit of a suck up. But when 7th hit and I started to explore my inner punk, I think I disappointed and disillusioned the guy.

At Thu Jun 15, 09:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I think Joe Stodola may be the only other person I've ever heard use the expression "down to brass tacks."

At Fri Jun 16, 10:15:00 AM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

aha! so that's where I got that expression!

At Fri Jun 16, 11:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Sorry, I couldn't resist.....
Brass Tacks
The phrase get down to brass tacks is of uncertain etymology. No one knows why it was originally coined, but there are several explanations. What we do know is that the phrase dates to at least the 1890s and that it is American in origin. Beyond that, there is only speculation.

The earliest known citation is from an 1895 letter by Frederick Remington:

How little I know . . . when you get down to brass-tacks.
The most likely explanation is that brass tacks is rhyming slang for facts. This, however, is complicated by the variant brass nails, which dates to at least 1911. The variant doesn't fit the rhyming slang, but then it may have been an alteration by someone who didn't understand the rhyming slang.

Another explanation is that stores used to mark out a yard on the counter with brass tacks so that customers buying cloth could measure it by getting down to brass tacks and ensure they weren't being cheated.

Yet another is that brass tacks were used as a foundation for upholstery. So getting down to brass tacks meant getting down to basics.

(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition; Historical Dictionary of American Slang; New Partridge Dictionary of Slang)

At Fri Jun 16, 11:57:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Ok Erin, is there any information as to where the phrase "I once knew a man..." came from?

At Fri Jun 16, 01:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Lol, no, but apparently there's a Charles Manson song by that title. Who knew? I was also reminded of the show Freaks & Geeks (I think) where the dad used to use the line "I knew a man/guy" on the kids and whatever the "man" did... it was followed by "and now he's DEAD!". Guess you had to see it....

At Fri Jun 16, 02:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Yeah, I think so... LOL

By the way, I have that Manson CD. I know that song.

At Mon Jun 19, 07:20:00 AM PDT, Blogger frbb said...

I liked Mr. Stodola. I remember his stories, especially his encounters with the good nuns at his gradeschool. A story about playing tire-tag and ringing a nun one day comes vividly to mind.

I remember one day he asked the class how many of us have not seen Star Wars because he had a way for us to be able to view it. When several people raised their hands, he accused one or several, I'm not sure which, of lying and we never saw it in class.

At Mon Mar 02, 04:13:00 PM PST, Blogger joshw23 said...

mr stodola whew a funny guy he made up a song he told us many things we should know. heres his song. "Stodola Cola you can drink it when your hot you can drink it when your cold you can drink it when your young you can drink it when your old its Stodola COLA!!!!


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