Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Ms. Vesper was one of the gym teachers at Washington. She looked every bit the stereotypical gym teacher.

Something about her scared the crap out of me. She looked nasty and grumpy. I prayed I would never have her. My prayers went unanswered.

I often get my sophomore and junior year gym classes mixed up. But I think I first had her during my sophomore year. And much to my surprise, I actually found her to be ok. If memory serves, she ALWAYS wore red sweat pants and a red sweatshirt. She looked like a giant cherry with curly hair.

A couple of minor memories stand out. I had her for swimming in one of those years. Swimming class was really a joke. As students, we were supposed to do laps across the width of the pool. We had to do a certain number, which increased by five every class. It started with five, then went to 10, 15, 20... When you were done, you could do anything you wanted. Vesper would randomly pick a student or two at some point during the six-week course, and watch them to make sure they did their laps. If you did your laps on that given day, you were pretty much assured of an "A." Most of the kids simply jumped in and screwed around the whole period - playing pool basketball or whatever. But Richard and I actually did our laps. It didn't matter how you made it across - swimming or walking, as long as you did it. So we just glided back and forth talking and whatever. Vesper took notice of us. So when it came time to count our laps, she actually told us the day she would do it. We each got "A's."

The other big memory I have is from volleyball. I believe this event took place during my junior year. In gym class volleyball (where rules like "in the net" don't apply) I was actually quite good. I could serve, I could volley. I was an asset. Our class was a mixture of juniors and seniors. During one game, I found myself in the front row, across from class of 1988's Kevin Vanderlinden on the other side of the net. Someone on my team (perhaps Becky Koeppel) hit the ball. It was headed in my direction, but didn't look as if it had quite enough height to clear the net. So as it got above my head, I jumped to give it an extra tap to get over the net. Well at that exact same moment, the super macho Vanderlinden also jumped from the other side, with the intention of spiking it back down on our side. I'm not exactly sure what happened. But both our hands met on the ball at the same time. He was trying to slam it with just his fist. While I had an open hand, and had a much better hold of the ball. With the littlest of effort, the ball rolled past Vanderlinden's fist, and bounced harmlessly onto the gym floor, on his side. Vanderlinden's balance was lost from my push of the ball. He ended up in a heap on the floor. My teammates cheered. But more importantly, Ms. Vesper (who spent the class period walking around the gym, eyeing up all the games one at a time) happened to be watching our game at that exact moment. And she yelled out, "Way to go Burt!" Way to go indeed. That one nifty moment scored me another "A." for gym class.

I didn't take gym my senior year. So my gym career came to an end, as did my time with Ms. Vesper. Like I stated earlier, despite my initial fears, I found Vesper to be pretty decent and friendly - at least to me anyway.

I believe Vesper retired several years ago. I believe she lives in Two Rivers to this day. In trying to find information on her, I came across this newspaper article from 10/14/64. It's really too small to see. But there's a picture of her, and an article about her performing well in some sort of bowling tournament. Look close. She's on the left.


At Wed Aug 30, 03:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

Ms. Vesper was my homeroom teacher in the old gym. That was a great place to have homeroom because we could shoot hoops or play hackysack. Ms. Vesper was always cool to us. Little did we know that Burt was remodeling the ceiling above us.

Jeff Rehraur used to call her Judy Viper. I don't know what that meant but it always got a laugh from others. I still to this day don't know what that meant. I didn't have cable as a child growing up in the country so maybe I missed something on HBO or MTV.

At Wed Aug 30, 06:51:00 PM PDT, Blogger MarkC said...

Wow, 2 Firestone Winter Tread tires for $24.24.

From what I remember Ms. Vesper was a good athlete. My oldests sister had Ms. Vesper for a coach and teacher waaaay back in the day.

Burt, I think your view of her is right on. She was much cooler than she was given credit for. It was always easier to rip on our teachers than praise them. That was a fun read, Burt!!

At Wed Aug 30, 08:42:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I liked being in that homeroom. It was dark, damp, humid, too hot or too cold, and you could smell the fear.


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