Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Mr. Kjelstrup (Rod) was an art teacher at L.B. Clarke. He was one of two art teachers actually. Mr. Swokowski was the other. The two of them were in the same wing - divided by the big curtain. It seems odd to me that a school of that size needed two. But nonetheless, that's what it had.

I seem to remember Kjelstrup as a big strapping man - sort of like a Nordic Viking or something. My only dealings with him were from 6th grade. Kjelstrup's room had four students set up at each table. Come to think of it, he may have actually had two tables pushed together to make one big one. Randy Ertman sat next to me. Ken Bartz sat across from me. I can't recall who was next to Ken. Maybe it was Wyatt Wood.

I got along with Kjelstrup for the most part. He was an ok guy. He could get mad from time to time though. I can remember him tearing into the class one day for being too loud or something. He screamed at us until we were all terrified. Not a peep was heard for the rest of the period.

Near the very end of the year, Randy Ertman and I were fooling around during the beginning of class. Kjelstrup got mad at us and sentenced us to write "I will pay attention during morning announcements" 200 times. That's a lot of words! Anyway, this was the week in which the class was spending the night at Camp Tapawingo. Both Randy and I had to finish our punishment before we were allowed to go. I finished it the night before.

Mr. Kjelstrup introduced us to plaster of paris. He had us open up an empty milk carton to its fullest potential. Then he would pour it in. Once it hardened, we peeled pack the cardboard carton. We were then to carve something out of the plaster. For the life of me, I just couldn't do it. So on the last day before it was due, Ken Bartz volunteered to take mine home and do it for me. The next day he came to school with a perfect-looking Pac-Man. He even carved my initials in the bottom. It was quite impressive. The lighting is bad. But you can see Ken's masterpiece below.

Speaking of plaster of paris, on the first day we used it, Kjelstrup put his entire hand in it, and sealed it up in the plaster. Why? Who knows. But once it hardened, he regretted it. Because the plastic really clung to the hairs on his hand. And it hurt like hell pulling it off. Lesson learned.

Kjelstrup was also a painter. In fact, in 7th grade, Mr. Trembley told us that he had one of Kjelstrup's paintings hanging in his house.

I never dealt with Kjelstrup after that year. In fact, I don't think I've seen him since I left Clarke. I do know that he and his wife divorced in 1986. He got remarried to a woman named Cheryl - who I believe is a teacher in the Mishicot School District today. As for Mr. Kjelstrup, he may be retired. I believe he and his wife currently live in Mishicot.


At Wed Oct 18, 08:02:00 AM PDT, Blogger apeman said...

He nad his wife? GOTCHA

At Wed Oct 18, 08:04:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

No, no - he did nad his wife. I saw him do it! In fact, I see him nadding all the time. He's a master at it.


At Wed Oct 18, 08:18:00 AM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

I'm glad you brought up the plaster because it's a perfect segway to my only experience with stitches.

Our table consisted of Drew Konop, Chris "Lohr" and myself. It was actually a fun year. We debated ad infinitum over the potential that Darth Vader actually WAS Luke's father??? To my credit, I was the only one who thought it to be true...Drew and Chris just figured Vader was fuckin' with him... but I digress...

Anway, it was probably during one of these round robins that, while digging away at my plaster block, I plunged an exacto-knife DEEP into the meaty portion of my hand...that creepy webbed section between your thumb and index finger.

So life goes into slow motion as I gaze in wide wonder at the gaping hole in my hand. I turned to Drew and said, "wow...look at that" and he FREAKED...dragged me by the sleeve, screaming "GET TO THE SINK!!!"

For a moment...no blood. And I actually got to see deep into my hand for a moment...bone, muscle, fat, whatever was in there. Cool. Then I tipped my hand upsidedown.....TIDAL WAVE OF BLOOD!

Anyway, six stitches later, all was good, but y'know...giving a bunch of 11 year olds exacto-knives??? C'mon ROD!

And megaditto to the dude's temper flare ups. One day, he made us sit in pitch black darkness as a punishment for our class being too loud or whatever. The whole class. Total silence. In darkness. WTF?! Schmuck does that on the property taxpayer's nickle??? Hmmmm.... Hell, I'd love to shut the lights off in my office at midday and stare at the wall but that's not practical, now is it???

End of rant.

Other than that, the guy was overall pretty cool. Good sense of humor. AWESOME with a pencil. I was always impressed with his sketchings and etchings. AND he was able to teach me something that I still use to this day in my meager drawings...depth of field and vanishing points. Pretty abstract concept to slam into the heads of sixth graders but the dude made it all make sense.

I can't believe I just wrote this much material over a goofy Norwegian art teacher from the 80's.

At Wed Oct 18, 08:44:00 AM PDT, Blogger mimikatemom said...

I don't remember him that much...but I carved a pretty decent E.T.; it MIGHT even still be in my daughter's top dresser drawer. I'll have to check.
I wonder if schools even HAVE exacto knives anymore. I can't imagine they do what with all the metal detectors and semiautomatic weapons around.

At Wed Oct 18, 08:57:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

For a good (bloody good) story on exacto knives, check out my entry on Richard Crowe.

At Thu Oct 19, 08:04:00 AM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

That plaster carving project was IMPOSSIBLE. It was like doing ice sculpture with a plastic butter knife. And a rock.

I can't believe we didn't all lose a finger.


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