Mary Z. Reed: Gentle Soul

Mary Z Reed, CHS English teacher, c 1964Mary Z. Reed was at Central High School when Dad was a student.

When I ran photos of the teachers who bridged the generations, Bill East remembered Miss Reed, “I’m sure anyone who knew her remembers her affection for trees. It may be apocryphal, but supposedly at the beginning of the year, she always asked students what they did during the summer. As the story goes, there was always one guy who said he was a lumberjack to upset her. I guess she was one of the original ‘tree huggers.’

Bill and Miss Reed have both graduated to The Other Side, so she’ll be able to give him his bonus points for using the word “apocryphal” in a sentence in person.

Alene Sadler “most influential”

Alene Sadler 1963We were blessed with some excellent English teachers at Central. Miss Alene Sadler was one of the most demanding teachers I ever had – in college or high school – but she was rated “most influential” by her students in their later years.

Miss Reed was less intimidating, but she was still able to convey her passion for language and literature to her uncouth and uncivilized students. I bet even the “lumberjack” felt bad by the end of the semester.

11 Replies to “Mary Z. Reed: Gentle Soul”

  1. My Mother questioned a report I bought home my junior year from Miss Reed that was less that flattering. My Mother told me she didn’t understand as Miss Reed was one of her favorite teachers when she was in high school. I told Mom that is the problem she has been there too long!
    At the time I thought it was funny that she was a tree hugger. Today I would not cut down a tree unless it is absolutely necessary.
    I still remember lessons I learned in her class and some of the required readings of books. Thank you Miss Reed.
    Miss Sadler was a friend of the family but I never was in any of her classes.

  2. Mary “Trees” Reed was an icon. Like many I didn’t fully appreciate her at the time, but she was an excellent teacher. A singular memory I have–and there is no guaranty at this age that it is not ‘apochryphal’–was that one of our early assignments was to memorize all four verses of the Star Spangled Banner. To copy word for word. For a test. All four. One verse was a challenge. I didn’t know there were more than one. It was perhaps the worst assignment in education history. I’ve not met a single soul all the years since that had an inkling of the existence of three other verses. Tellingly I cannot recall even a single word of them.

  3. I remember writing essays in Ms. Sadler’s class. At first I was getting C’s. Since we red them in class, I thought that mine wre as godd as some of the B & A papers. So I had my mother type one of my essays and received a B+. Ms Sadler put a note on my aper that said the if she had been able oread my handwriting I may have been getting better grades all along. I always wonder why she didn’t tlk to me about my handwriting sooner.
    By the way, I still ahve that B+ papr.

  4. Miss Reed was a gentle soul and I enjoyed her for her eccentricities. Yes, she taught my parents and my sister before me. Miss Sadler taught me lessons I passed on to our sons and they are as adamant about them as she was. I loved her class.

  5. We were blessed with great teachers growing up in Cape. Ms. Taylor in 8th grade reading, the above mentioned Ms. Sadler and Ms. Reed, Mr. Childes in earth science( still can read any topographical map, thank you) Ms. Williams in math. Ms. Sackman in History and dozen others I forgot with apologies.
    I think we did live in a magic time, Walter’s comments notwithstanding.

  6. How how way back before we knew our path, teachers had an influence….Ms. Edna Haman was my art inspiration. Ms. Ellen Towse was my athletic inspiration. Ms. Arlene Sadler inspired my love of print. Year later, after commercial art success, bicycling success, and the love of literature, I have these teachers to thank.

  7. Ken — In the early 1980s, it was my privilege and pleasure to represent Miss Reed in the handling of her affairs late in her life. She, like Miss Sadler, was one of the master teachers of our generation, and that of our parents. I was one of the incorrigible students who played out the “Tree Reed” deal (though not nearly so egregiously as some of my compatriots), so you can imagine my abject shame when Miss Reed came to see me. I charged her only a pittance, in the hope that I would find some redemption. But the best part was that I saw her as you and the others have described — a gentle soul, a great teacher, a person who conveyed “her passion for language and literature to her uncouth and uncivilized students,” like me!
    My early 1980s experience with Miss Sadler (from whom I took private piano lessons) and Miss Haman (a stalwart member of my church) was much the same. What a wonderful honor and blessing to have had the opportunity to serve them in their own time of need.

  8. I had both teachers in the early 50’s. My first encounter with Alene Sadler was in my freshman year when I was walking past her classroom. I had heard that there were some “tough” teacher at Central, but not prepared for her to shout, “Out, out, damned spot!” at me just as I was passing the door. I jumped and quickened my pace. It wasn’t until senior English Lit, that I realized that it was nothing personal; that she was just speaking the lines of Lady MacBeth. She confirmed me as a story teller and I learned to write my first term paper, which served me well through college, seminary and 4 years of graduate school.

  9. Loved all the teachers that I had throughout my 12 years in Cape Schools. They were all caring in their efforts to teach us. We were all blessed to have them as teachers. I didn’t have Mary Reed, but I remember how many students laughed about her loving the poem, “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.”
    I love that poem and I love a beautiful tree. I have planted many and watered, trimmed and watched them grow into giants making shade to cool us and limbs from which to hang swings so my grandchildren could enjoy them. And, Oh! Those beautifully colored leaves that take our breath away! I have never had to rake leaves as my grandchildren have always come running when the leaves fall as they love to rake them into a giant pile, see how high they can swing and then- JUMP INTO THE PILE, SQUEALING WITH DELIGHT! My trees have given me and my family so much pleasure and joy. And- I think of Mary Reed every time I see a lovely tree that takes my breath away!

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