Mary Escola, 1948-2006

Mary Elizabeth Moore Escola was my seventh grade teacher at Margaret Keating School in Klamath, California. Born May 28, 1948, in Portland Oregon, she passed away peacefully at her home August 23, 2006, in Chico, at the age of 58.

Our class as whole was not kind to the first-year teacher as we did several things to make her life miserable. The worst was flooding or classroom, for which I eventually found myself expelled from the district and having to go to St. Joe’s Catholic School, in Crescent City.

To this day, I still feel ashamed of myself for the way I behaved as she showed nothing but kindness to me.

Prior to the ‘flooding incident,’ I remember how Miss Moore, as we knew her then, came into the classroom obviously brimming over with excitement. It was that morning that she announced that our fifth grade teacher, Don Escola had proposed to her.

She didn’t return to MKS after that year. Instead, Mary decided to remain home on Azalea Drive and raise her children, Michael and Douglas, jus’ up the street from where I grew up.

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A Jack Daniel Dare

Doc stood in the doorway of sick-bay when he saw the Humvee roll up tot the Commanders’ tent. There were two Marine Corps officers in the vehicle, one was driving and had the rank of Captain. The other, the passenger was a Lt. Colonel.

Both men got out and went inside the tent. The Captain had a wooden box in his hands that he had taken from the back of the Humvee.

Doc wasn’t curious about this activity as it happened several times a week. He continued to lean on the aluminum frame of sick-bay and sip at his luke warm coffee.

A couple minutes later he turned and went back inside to finish up the paper work from the mornings sick-call duties. There wasn’t much to do as not very many Marines lined up for sick-call.

“Hey, Doc,” came a voice from outside the tent. It was Staff Sergeant Murray. He was a munitions expert and was in the middle of his third enlistment.

“What?” Doc answered.

“Their handing out Good Conduct medals,” Murray replied.

Doc shook his head, before commenting, “So, I’m not entitled.” Then he asked, “You going to get one?”

“Yup,” said Murray. Then the slightly older man smiled.

Doc could see that the smile meant mischief. The Corpsman knew it was half-smiles and raised eyebrows that tended to get him and others in trouble. It was also the reason Doc wasn’t entitled to the medal.

“What?” Doc asked Murray.

“I dare you to go stand in line with everyone else when they start handing them out,” Murray said.

“No way!” Doc responded.

“Must be chicken-shit, huh?” Murray countered.

Doc looked at the sergeant, than took the bait. “No!” he shot back. Then he added, “Okay, I’ll do it and when I do you’ll own me a bottle of JD. Got it?”

“You’re on,” Murray said as he stepped out side the tent and disappeared out of sight.

Doc hurried to finish his paper work and get it properly filed. He thought about the bet and what a bottle of booze would do for the moral of his squad.

Minutes later he was back standing in the doorway of the sickbay. The two Marine officers came out of the C.O.’s tent and stood looking up and down the camp.

The announcement of a general formation had already been post a couple days before, so Doc knew when and where he was to be. He felt a slight wave of nervousness sweep over him and he chuckled at the thought of what he was about to do.

Just before noon, Marines started milling about in the common area of the camp. Doc went over and joined in until when formation was called. About 30 men lined up shoulder to shoulder. Doc took the position on the very end to the far left of the formation.

Within minutes the two Marine Corps officers were moving down the line, taking time to pin a medal on each Marine, shake hands in congratulations’ and then a salute. The Captain had the wooden box in his hands, open and exposing a mass of Good Conduct medals in it.

It took about fifteen minutes for the Colonel to get to Doc’s place in the line. He took a one of the medals from the box and pinned it above the Corpsman’s left breast pocket.

Then he shook his hand, stepped back and saluted Doc. He saluted back and that was the end of the ceremony.

Once the formation was dismissed, Doc returned to the sick-bay tent. A few minutes later Murray appeared in the doorway. He dug a bottle out of his pocket and set it on Doc’s desk.

“You got away with,” he said, adding, “I can’t believe it.”

Both men laughed as Doc picked up the bottle and dropped it in the bottom drawer of the desk, locking it up. He felt relaxed now that he was no longer being dared to do something stupid just for a bottle of Jack Daniel.

Shooting the Moon

The early morning sunlight was bright and a slight breeze blew across the track as Tommy stepped on it. The rubbery surface felt good as his spikes dug in. “This is the big day,” Tommy thought to himself.

He had spent the last three summers work towards this day; an Olympic try out.

Today he would run the one hundred yard dash against the fastest men in the world. He was one of them. At sixteen he was also the youngest.

“Well, open it up,” Dee Sullivan urged to him.

Tommy just stood there looking at the envelope with the five interlinked rings on it. Dee was taking great pride in her second star pupil. ”

Open it up, Tom,” she said again.

That snapped him out of his trance like state and he pulled at the glued down flap. Once the envelope was discarded and the letter inside revealed.

He fumbled nervously to unfold it.

The letter was an invite to participate in the open one hundred meter dash. Again Tommy just stood there, this time with his eyes wide and mouth hanging open.

Mrs. Sullivan smiled. She knew what it was all along. For the past two summers she had pushed and trained him to levels he never thought he could achieve.

Suddenly he let out a scream and a whoop that caused everyone on the little high school field to stop what they were doing and look. What they saw was Tommy jumping up and down in long strides around the track.

He looked as if he had springs attached as bound high in the air. Tommy laughed and he hollered as he continued bounce around the other tracksters on Thuen Field.

“What’s going on,” someone asked. Dee smiled again, “Tommy jus’ got his invite to Oregon State this summer.”

“Isn’t that where their holding….”the person started to ask.

Dee cut them off, “Yup.”

Training intensified. Tommy worked harder than ever. This was the most important meet of his life.

Everyday he would run twenty-five wind sprints in the sands of Pebble Beach. Then he would set up the starting blocks and do twenty-five starts. He worked hard at putting his knees high and keeping his head low.

Tommy ran when it rained and against the gale winds that blew off of Whalers Rock. Then he would do more wind sprints.

Twice a week Dee Sullivan would take him up Highway 199 and along the Smith River to run a longer distance at a higher altitude in the Six River National Forest. Some days she would drop him off at Gasquet or Hiouchi.

Other days it would be Patrick’s Creek or Washington Flat. Then she would drive ahead and Tommy would have to catch up to her.

Dee would eventually be found sitting in her Thunderbird reading a novel as Tommy came trotting in.

Finally the big day came. The evening before he left he spent one last evening at the Sullivan’s home.

“This is it, Tommy,” she said as he got ready for bed. “I can’t do any more for you. It’s all up to you.”

With that Tommy crawled into bed and fell asleep. And just as planned Dad stopped by at six am for the trip to Eugene.

He and Dad talked very little of the track meet. They spoke more about hunting and fishing as well as the number of times they had traveled this same road as a family to visit Mom’s Dad in Salem.

They spent a fitful night sleeping at a hotel.

Tommy was ready first. He wanted to get down to the track.

“Runners, remove your sweats, “the starter said.

Tommy was on the far outside lane in number eight. He was fighting off the nervousness he felt in his stomach.

The crowds were more than Tommy had ever seen. The buzz they made from their constant talking was like nothing Tommy had ever prepared for.

The runners moved forward to remove there sweats. Tommy did like wise and burst of laughter came from behind him.

His sweats were at his knees when he suddenly realized what had happened. Tommy dropped tot he ground and laid on his side as he struggled to pull his sweats up.

Later that afternoon he and his Dad stopped in to a diner for a late lunch. The waitress came over and took their order.

As she brought it to them she asked, ”Ain’t you the one who shot the moon in Eugene?”

Blushing a deep red, Tommy answered, “Yes.”

“Don’t worry, honey, could have happened to anyone,” she said,” Besides you have a cute butt, anyway.