Since I am not likely to receive another letter like the one,I hope that the readers of this blog will indulge this little ego trip. Back in the 60's and early 70's, I taught school: English and drama. One of my favorite subjects was Classical Mythology and I gave Apollo, Sigfred and Tristram far more time than they deserved. It sometimes got me in trouble, but when I had a good class and attentive students, I couldn't resist. I remember one class that became so caught up in the Greeks and Germans, they held a "Myth Day" and the entire school was filled with mythical beings: I still remember seeing Cupid and Psyche in studyhall, Thor eating lunch with his hammer by his plate, Zeus dragging his thurnder-bolt down the hall. That was a long time ago, and I have proved to be an irritation to a dozen "administrators" since then. But, this morning, feeling a bit bleak and lonely, I checked my e-mail. Well, I'll let the letter speak for itself.
Dear Mr. Carden,
This is a message I should have written to you long ago. It has to do with your influence on those you taught. I, too, am a teacher (at Oxford College of Emory University for 30 years--just retired in January of this year). Not one day in my classes did I pass without reference to what you gave us, and when I would answer the questions of my students (always delighted when we were on that subject), I would tell them that I was lucky enough to have a teacher who readied his students in the strongest way possible--by, in my own personal case, giving us two years of studies in mythology!
My specialty in scholarship is medieval French studies. It has taken me to the very highest echelons of academia, from Harvard to the Sorbonne. I say this because, Mr. Carden, without your influence, my climb would have been much more difficult. My accomplishments have come from publications on a work related to Celtic mythology--a fourteenth-century romance called Melusine.
I'm attaching a link to this message showing the bookcover of my latest volume (co-authored with a professor in France). In the illustration you see Melusine in the form of a winged dragon hovering above the Chateau de Lusignan. She is the legendary ancestor of the Lusignan family--kings of Jerusalem, Cypress, and Armenia. (It's the same dragon you can see in the Tres Riches Heures du Dud de Berry, the illustration for the month of March).
Dianne Smith Monroe has kept me informed about your activities; she communicates with me from time to time. One of the things she told me about you was your involvement in a project with one of the greatest actresses ever--one ever present in my psyche as a result of her roles in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Ray Bradbury's "The Jar." I said to my wife, when Dianne informed us, "Who else in the world would be involved with her but Gary Carden!"
As I said at the beginning of this message, this is a belated "Thank you!" On my desk there is a photograph of Notre Dame Cathedral, a gift from one of my students who went on to become an architect. She typed out a little ribbon to serve as caption underneath. It says as follows: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." Well, that goes double for me to you--in spades! Every moment of my career--my successes (never my failures!) have rested on what I learned from you, Mr. Carden.
With great appreciation,
Buddy (Matthew) Morris
P.S. My wife, Susan, has been after me to write this for many years, having constantly heard references to you throughout our marriage of 42 years.