Sunday, January 31, 2010


Whenever I get my hair cut, I always get caught up on news from back home.

The woman to whom I entrust my haircuts (no small honor) is also from Carroll and so, we have a lot of common ground and she always has a tidbit be it gossip or whatever (usually it's gossip.) Yesterday, while she was cutting my hair, she said to me, "Did you have Miss Hindman as a teacher? Did you hear about her?" My response was "Please don't tell me that she died!"

Sadly, the answer to that was "yes." She passed away on Friday - apparently rather unexpectedly - at the early age of 59.

Joyce Hindman was my 5th grade teacher and is certainly not the first of my elementary school teachers to pass. That honor goes to Esther Zimmerman, my kindergarten teacher who lived to a very ripe old age. I remember her coming into the pharmacy where I worked during summer vacations, long since retired from teaching. She had to have been in her 80s by then but she still remembered who I was. When she died, I affected me much like the death of anyone who is elderly and lived their life to the fullest does. But for Ms. Hindman, it's different. To die at 59 and and in the middle of a school year jolted even me.

This surprised me a lot as it's been probably 20 years since I last saw her, and probably longer than that since I last talked to her. But she was a cool and hip teacher of whom my friend Jeff and I have many good (and some hysterical) memories, many of which have been embellished on over the years to great comic effect.

My biggest and most enduring memory of Ms. Hindman will always be my uncontainable jealousy of the fact that she was able to see Olivia Newton-John in concert when the Physical World Tour stopped in Ames back in 1982. I had begged my parents to let me go see ONJ to (predictably) no avail. I seethed at them and was green with envy when I heard that my teacher was going! The concert ended up as an HBO special later that year which I watched a bazillion times. But I remember Ms. Hindman letting me bring in my Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 record album to play during class parties. Seriously, how I survived elementary school without being beaten up on a daily basis is a continued mystery to me.

Joyce Hindman taught me about Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth via her packet on explorers. I remember her putting up the solar system on the back wall of the classroom during that unit. She had a penchant for Snickers and Pepsi (or so I recall). In the building shakeups that the Carroll district had over the years, she went from 5th grade to 4th grade, leaving behind the 5-H moniker that I so distinctly recall and becoming 4-H. She was, in the end, a great teacher who left a subtle yet recognizable impact on me. And apparently I'm not the only one as there's already a Facebook group dedicated to her memory.

The visitation is this afternoon in Carroll and were it any other day, I'd drive over to pay my respects. But I think I'd rather leave it like this. It's better this way.

RIP Ms. Hindman. You will be missed.


Unknown said...

I know u didn't write this for props or anything.. but she really did mean a lot to me as a teacher and mentor. Thanks for your kind words.. RIP Ms. H.

John said...

I'm touched, and I didn't even know her! Sounds like she touched a lot of kids.