Lucky Two Dollar Bills

When I decided to leave coaching high school speech and debate to go to law school, one of my students gave me a good luck charm. 

David’s in the green shirt, with teammate Jeff looking on, working on our brand new Mac computer in 1994.

David had been one of my debaters since his freshman year.  He loved debate.  Cross-examination debate where you’re teamed with a partner and you argue the same topic for a whole year.  You go to camp the summer before and you cut cards – that means you do a lot of research and compile a filing system of information so you can put your hands on any piece of evidence to refute any possible argument the other side might bring up at a moment’s notice.

At that time, before the advent of laptop computers, all that information you accumulated went into Rubbermaid tubs and you wheeled those tubs around on dollies at tournaments nearly every weekend. 

The rounds of competition lasted around an hour and a half and you were exhausted when you finished.  Just from listening because the teams talked so fast.

I still think it’s one of the most beneficial activities any kid can participate in to develop critical thinking skills. 

And powerful lungs. 

One year David was partnered with Katie, a senior who had already established herself as a force to be reckoned with on the speech and debate circuit.  David was younger, and well, there for a while he was just plain scrawny.  He was wirey, though, and could hold his own with anyone. 

The team nicknamed them “Butch and Scrappy.”

It didn’t take long for teams in our region to learn that they were the team to beat.

At the beginning of the year Katie’s grandfather gave each of them a two dollar bill for good luck and David carried it in his wallet until he graduated.

And then he gave it to me.

It was lucky all right.  I got through law school.

Tomorrow David’s marrying a woman he’s crazy about and I’m just sick that I’m not there in Philadelphia to celebrate with him. 

But it’s just as well. I’d probably make a mess of the salad dressing at dinner.

And I’m keeping the two dollar bill.

Seniors on the Cooper Speech Team who had competed for four years in 1995. From left, Josh Roberts, Jeff Casey, me, Justin Brown, David Register, Erin Kelley, Stephen Sides – and down in front with a stick in his mouth, Charles Walts, otherwise known as ‘Cato.’ 
And here’s the whole team in 1995 – our yearbook picture, thanks to Jennifer Nichols! In this picture are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, architects, lawyers, doctors, police officers, PhDs and nationally ranked collegiate debate coaches. Most of all, they’re still some of the brightest, sweetest people I know. I’m proud to have ridden on chartered busses with them. I’m proud they were once known as ‘Gary’s kids.’



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer LeColst Hoye says:

    Ms.Gary, I googled you and FOUND you!

    I am presenting for my Toastmasters club tomorrow and YOU are the topic of my introduction. You left Cooper after my freshman year, I was devastated. You were an amazing teacher and impacted my speaking/life greatly. You left David to keep Karen and I under his wing. Karen and I went to State our first year… we’d say “To Ms. Gary and attempt to cheers those massive totes’ 🙂

    Glad you got through Law School…everyone knew you would!

    1. sallygary says:

      I’m honored to be the intro for your Toastmasters’ presentation! Hope it went well – you’ll have to give us a critique! Sounds like David did an awesome job coaching you, even in his high school days. I was very torn leaving that year to go to law school, but I knew I was leaving you in very capable hands! Congrats on making it to State, and thanks for remembering. Keep in touch!

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