Literary History

It took a great amount of personal restraint to keep me from beginning this writing assignment with the introductory lines from the Steve Martin movie, The Jerk. I guess just that reference alone will give away my vintage. I was born in 1959, the second son to Margaret and Walter Percevecz. Soon there would be five children in total, four boys and a girl. Dad was a regional manager for Revlon covering the southeast from Atlanta Georgia, and on his way to the corporate offices in New York City by way of Los Angeles California. Mom was a Mom. If you have ever watched the old black and white sitcom called Leave it to Beaver, then you know what growing up was like in my house, only there were more bleeps in the dialogue.
Mom was an only child born in the south and raised in the south and south central parts of the United States as her father moved around in the furniture business. My father was born and raised in Pawtucket Rhode Island, a life long Red Sox and Celtics fan. He was the youngest of six children born to an immigrant couple from Poland. He was raised speaking Polish and Russian at home and his neighborhood, but spoke English with a New England accent and took French while he as in school. Thanks to a talent for football and Holy Cross needing a good end, Dad got a college degree on a football scholarship. Mom never went to college, but secretarial school and moved to Atlanta to make her way in the world, where she met my Dad. Mom may not have had a college degree but there was rarely a conversation in that she could not hold her own. Mom was a voracious reader and she read everything! The best sellers, non-fiction, histories and her favorites were biographies and mysteries. She loved the newspapers at the grocery store check out lines and knew every detail of the world of the rich and famous.
My first memory of books was my Mom reading Dr. Seuss books to my brothers and me. The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish. Mom never had brothers or sisters, nor did she have any close cousins so she read lots of books about raising children, Dr. Spock was a popular author and expert on child rearing at the time. I started school in a Montessori school in Palos Verdes California. I remember playing with letters on blocks and reading Dr. Seuss and similar books. My family moved three times before I was in the second grade so my earliest school days are a blur to me, but from the second grade on I went to school in the small town of Allendale New Jersey. There were bookcases in the family room, bookcases in the living room, bookcases in every one of the five bedrooms of our house and magazine racks in every bathroom! Mom decorated with books! She had a special label made for the inside cover of all her books so you would know where to return the book because she was one to loan her books to anyone that wanted to read one. Dad on the other hand loved to read the newspaper, Sports Illustrated and Time magazine. Sunday mornings were always a race to the comics and Parade magazine in the middle of the Bergen Record. My siblings and I always had subscriptions to Boy’s Life, Popular Mechanics and Scholastic magazines.
Books, magazines and reading material of all kinds were ubiquitous in my home growing up so I have a hard time thinking about the first book, or any book as unique because there were always books. I can remember the first book that I chose to read rather than was assigned to read. I was in the eighth grade and a new movie had just come out titled The Godfather, but I couldn’t go see it because it was rated R, so I just picked up the paperback that my Mom had on the shelf and read the book instead. Mom wasn’t just a reader she was a writer too. Not professionally, she wrote long letters and thank you notes for everything. Once we were old enough to write, my siblings and I all wrote thank you notes too. After your birthday and Christmas we all got writers cramps sending thank you cards to all my aunts, uncles and cousins!
I graduated from high school in the spring of 1977. My entire school experience had been sage on the stage, textbooks, pop quizzes and a final exam. The only high stakes test I remember taking was the SAT. Then off I went to Montclair State College as a drama major, one semester in and I changed to Marketing Education to teach high school business education. I didn’t finish college on my first attempt or my second, or even my third or fourth attempt. I got married had some kids and worked all over the USA doing all kinds of different jobs. Thirty plus years went by and I read little more than magazines, newspapers, blueprints and the occasional chapter of the Bible. I married twice and raised six children and by the time the oldest were in college my second wife decided against the ten-year anniversary cruise, she wanted a divorce instead. That was the inspiration for me to return to college. I bought a laptop, figured out how to work it and started researching online degree programs.
I had discovered the audio book before I went back to college and spent many hours as an over the road truck driver listening to many books written by popular authors of the times. Once I started college I listened to my textbooks as I drove. The past four years of my life I have probably read more than the previous forty years. By the time my divorce was final and I was starting college for the fifth and last time, I met Julie, a beautiful second grade teacher and soon I became the “Trucker Buddy” to her class. It wasn’t long before I convinced her that she was just going to have to marry me. She finally believed me one hot August evening on the San Antonio Riverwalk. We were married on Marriage Island surrounded by friends and family.
While I was working on my Bachelor’s degree, Julie decided to get a second Master’s degree and we both walked the stage together in the fall of 2013. I finally got my BA in Education Studies and Julie, a Masters in Teaching and Learning with Technology. These days I find myself often lost reading a textbook about some theory of teaching; I turn to my resident expert with over 25 years in the classroom and the fog clears. Julie has become my inspiration and my rock. She faces her students every day with a smile and works harder than anyone I know to make sure someone else’s child learns to the very best of their potential.
I have come a long way since high school. In 1977 I took a class about computers and learned to make punch cards. Today I have and iPhone, a MacBook Pro laptop and we have two iPads in the house. (Julie even has a PC.) I spent the last four years finishing college online, started graduate school and I did my research, writing and posting from the forty-eight contiguous United States and every province of Canada. Who would have ever imagined? When I was first in college, the Dewey Decimal system ruled the library and now I use Boolean searches to find the answer to any question imaginable in online libraries and search engines.
Today I am looking forward to stepping into my very first classroom and applying all of my years of work and life experience to my classroom teaching. The last few years I have been studying about the art and science of teaching, theories about learning, and all of the tools and technology available in the classroom today, so I can be an inspiration to my students and the next generation of classroom teachers. There is no time like the present. Let’s get to it.
See ya in class,