Name: Eleanor (Jones) Kodish
Major: Elementary Education Graduation
Profession: Retired Elementary Principal
Did you ever meet anyone who resembled Abraham Lincoln in looks and had the kind of mannerisms which we think old Abe had? Well, I did, and I've been deeply affected forever by that meeting!
The person I am talking about is Dr. John Cure, a professor of English at Mansfield State Teachers College, back in the 1940's. He was the instructor in our Freshman English class in the Fall of 1943, and was only the second man I had ever had as a teacher in school. I think that was one reason I felt so intimidated the first day I walked into his classroom. There stood this tall, stately, austere man who gave me the impression that he was going to ask me to leave if I stepped out of line, which I never did, of course!
Dr. Cure carried himself "tall in the saddle", always with a most somber expression on his face. He carried a bulging brief case which contained, I suppose, the many essays from his classes. I always felt that he should be wearing a high silk hat, and then he would have been an exact replica of Abraham Lincoln. I don't remember ever seeing him actually smile, although I have to say he was not a "mean-looking" man, at all.
Our first assignment was to write an essay telling how to do something. Well, from my "farmer background" I decided to write about "How to Build a Good Load of Hay". The week after we had handed in that assignment, Dr. Cure said he was going to read some of our writings in class and we would all critique them together. Mine was the first one he read, and being a man of his word, we really did critique it!! He tore that essay apart sentence for sentence and word for word. Oh, Lord, how my ears did burn from the embarrassment of it all. He continued, throughout the semester, to read everyone of my essays aloud and we critiqued each and everyone of them in the same cruel manner. He told us at the end of the term that he critiqued the essays whose writers seemed to have the most potential for writing, and he wanted those people to get particular attention. How great was that?? He told me later, as well, that he had been a "farm kid" and that was the reason he had chosen all of my essays--he liked the topics!!
We had three other essays to write that semester, and still drawing on my background on the farm, I wrote about things which were familiar to me. When we had to write about the advantages and disadvantages of something my essay was entitled "The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Milking Machine". Another essay was "Why a Farmer Can't Live on Salads", and the third was "The Proper Use of and Care for Your Tractor".
Before that year was over, the fear I had of Dr. Cure was replaced by a deep and abiding respect for this man who was, to me ,the epitome of college professors. I was sorry I was not able to take more classes from him. He was certainly an inspiration for me to keep writing, regardless of the topic. I believe I learned more from him in that Freshman English class than I did in all the others combined that year, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
I was terribly saddened by the news that Dr. Cure and his sister had perished in a house fire not long after his retirement. It was a violent and horrible ending to the life of this gentle man who had shared his love of the English language and the written word with untold numbers of little freshmen who entered his classroom each and every September for many years at Mansfield.