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Friday, March 18, 2022


Thirty eight years after graduation, Marty Crowe remains a part of my life.

I wrote a column some months ago about being contacted by Marty's daughter, Maureen, saying she was going through his papers and found one of my old high school assignments among them. "A college level paper" Marty had written at the top. 

Marty Crowe was a teacher of poetry and literature at my high school in Chippewa Falls. He was also the basketball coach

That column led to to the author of a Marty Crowe biography to contact me and send a copy of the book, which I received this week.

Which has led to a wave of guilt and  self-reflection.

I was not as respectful to Marty in high school as I should have been. I was a smart-ass and a mean smart-ass at that. I respected no one and joked about everyone.

Years after graduating, I looked at my senior yearbook and most people wrote they were afraid to write anything because I would make fun of them.

I was a bully.

Yet Marty stuck with me. I could never get out of my head his reading of Randall Jarrell's poem, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner":

"From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."

Marty's dramatic reading, in his gravelly voice, was profoundly dramatic.

And he'd repeat the haunting last line.

Marty was a sports coach who took pride in teaching poetry rather than physical education.
He knew history, he knew social justice.

I look forward to reading the book, which has already included a quote from my friend
Becky from the graduating class of 1984.

In the years since, I've worked hard to stop being such an ass. I imagine Marty was part of
that, too. All these years later.

Teaching me to be better.

Peace unto all of Ukraine. Peace unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


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