May 26 • 11:54 PM

Memories of school, geometry class

September 24, 2008
It was with much sadness that I heard of the death of Ervin Lamkin. To me, he was Mr. Lamkin, my Geometry teacher. When he married my neighbor and childhood friend Christina Hough, I tried to call him Ervin but, it just wouldn't come out.

I first learned of his death from granddaughter Kelly Pendrick, who is an audiologist in Cadillac, Michigan. She had worked with the Lamkin's son, Dr. Roland Lamkin, and his sister Faye Donnelly. The Lamkins lived near McBain. Then his obituary appeared in the Tri-City Times.

On the first day of school in my sophomore year in high school, Mr. Lamkin stood at the door of the science room. He looked so young and bashful that I thought he was a freshman student in from a country one-room school and was lost. I wanted to help him but was too bashful. What a surprise when I entered the geometry room, and found he was my teacher.

Geometry. I struggled with algebra. It was so dumb I thought...when would I ever use that? Geometry would be different. I was determined to do better and wouldn't be afraid to ask questions if I didn't understand. Math and I were never friendly. I sat in a front seat in geometry class and was determined to ask questions until I understood. Mr. Lamkin was explaining a problem. Up went my hand, I didn't understand. Up it went a second time, a third time. His face became red. WOW! He thought I was 'putting him on.' I never asked another question and asked help elsewhere. He finally became more patient and understood that all students were not mathematicians. In chemistry class, Fritz Spangler was my lab buddy and savior.

Up through the eighth grade my Father burned many a midnight oil drumming arithmetic in my head. He never went through high school and couldn't help with algebra or he was glad. He started in the ninth grade in Dryden but, his Father needed him on the farm...after all, there were nine brothers and sisters, 10 with him. In the late 1800s I think Dryden had only 10 grades.

Cousin Bill Thorman and wife Addie now own that farm. Bill's Mother, Mae, was my Father, Sam Park's baby sister. He went to a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade, a mile north of there.

I still feel that my roots are around Dryden, my Father being born and raised on the north side of Dryden and my Mother on the south side. They met when they went into high school in Dryden. My Father liked to tell the story of seeing that rather plump girl, even remembering the dress she wore, and saying to himself, "Someday I am going to marry that girl!'' and he did. Then adding with a twinkle in his eyes "I like a woman with a little meat on her bones.''

— Country Cousin

P.S. Ervin loved woodworking and I treasure a bowl made from a black walnut limb that he gave me when I visited the Lamkins a few years ago. It is inscribed on the bottom "Handcrafted by Ervin G. Lamkin.''

Castle Creek
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