I’ve written many times about Earth Science Teacher Ernie Chiles and the friendship we developed outside of class. He interacted with students in a way that would be unthinkable today, but that’s what made him one of the most memorable teachers I had.
To keep from rehashing old stories, I’ll just post links:
- Ernie was so green, Pam Taveggia remembers, “that we didn’t know whether to love him or take advantage of him, so I guess we did both.” The first time he took her flying, he let her handle the controls. “Such a joyous, beautiful, completely new adventure for me! This is it! I wanted to be an airline pilot. My lessons from my Earth Science teacher were some I have never forgotten. I didn’t get to become an airline pilot, but I DID get to become a teacher who cared about my students. I had learned by the best example.”
- Ernie taught me how to drive. I made it about 150 yards before I crashed into the side of a bridge.
- Ernie and I went flying 48 years to the day after I took my first newspaper photo.
- The water barometer experiment (subtitled “Watching Ernie Squirm).
When we met for lunch this trip, Ernie presented me the actual Earth Science book he used to teach the class. I told him to play Vanna White or pretend he was selling soap so I could take his picture with it. He may have a shot at making it in the late-night infomercial game.
He even inscribed it
Jim Stone, George Cauble and I set a goal of acing all of Ernie’s tests. We’d get together in my basement to review and practically memorize the book the night before a quiz. Ernie, for his part, took the challenge and decided to make tests so hard they couldn’t be aced. You can imagine what THAT did to the curve.
Jim Stone and I are still arguing with him over a couple of questions he marked wrong.
Who did all the underlining?
When I leafed through the book, I noted that almost every sentence was underlined.
“Geez, didn’t they give you a new book when you started teaching? Who did all the underlines?”
“I did,” he admitted. “You guys thought I was kidding when I said I was only about a chapter ahead of you when I was teaching the class.”
We couldn’t go flying
We couldn’t go flying the last time I was in town because Ernie’s plane had a broken perambulator or something.
It’s perambulating fine now, but there had been a lot of rain around Painton Airport where he hangars the plane. That made the grass runway a bit iffy. I had hoped to get in the air before the leaves came out, but since I had missed that, we decided to err on the side of caution and wait until summer to go up.
Stone is going to be SOOOOO jealous when he hears I have The Book.