Sometimes you know a man best by knowing his kids.
When I first started teaching at Cooper High School, we needed money for our speech team budget, so we hosted a dinner theatre as a fundraiser.
Nothing goes better with Greater Tuna than Harold’s Barbecue.
Harold came and served the brisket and ‘damn hot sauce’ himself.
Every part was played by a different student, rather than the two-man show that Joe Sears and Jaston Williams created, where they each played multiple characters. Pure economics – the more kids you cast in the show, the more parents and grandparents and friends who buy tickets.
It was a perfect cast, if I do say so myself. The girl cast as Yippy couldn’t have been happier playing a dog.
And the Baptist preacher played by a Jewish boy who wore a yarmulke every day, hid it with a cowboy hat. Because I wouldn’t have thought of asking him to remove it.
Laughter comes easily just thinking about Bertha Beumiller and her brood, and Vera Carp leading the Smut Snatchers meeting. How Sam ever kept a straight face as the live portrait of the judge who died in a most compromising situation, I’ll never know.
And the boys who played the radio announcers, Thurston Wheelis and Arlis Struvie, would’ve made Joe and Jaston proud.
We had a great turnout for the show. I met a lot of parents that night. Like Charles and Judy Siburt, whose son, John, played one of those radio announcers.
I wasn’t ever close to Charles Siburt, a colleague of mine from Abilene Christian who passed away yesterday, but I respected him highly for the work he did to bring peace in churches.
I didn’t know him as Dr. Siburt, though.
For two years his oldest son sat in my classroom, learning about public speaking and Lincoln-Douglas debate and memorizing lines for Greater Tuna.
I got to know Charles through a son he’d raised. A son who was more of a man at 16 than some I’ve known at 50.
That’s how I’ll remember him, as John’s and Ben’s dad.
Perhaps his greatest work.