Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Being Married to a Teacher

If someone had told me that I would marry one of the teachers at FHS I would have told them they were nuts! My joke is that I am walking down the hall hand in hand with (fill in the blank) and God speaks from His heaven as Jerry is walking the other way…”But THIS man will father your children!” This is why we can’t see the future. I would NEVER have imagined marrying a teacher, even if they were cute.

So it was in October 1975, it was an "off" night for the World Series—or I would have been home watching that historic World Series—my friend Debbie and I went to visit our friend Vern at his apartment and his then wife thought we ladies should meet this neighbor of theirs. So it was her idea, and we went to Jerry’s apt. and she introduced us. Jerry claims he was sitting on his porch but I definitely remember being in the apartment, so both could be true. I thought he was kinda cute, but HIS thought was "Too bad one of those girls isn't dating material!" Now, if he'd had any sense, he would have dated Debbie as her dad was president of the school board at the time.

Jerry announced the Flyer basketball games. I had moved home from living in Columbus from my graduation in 1974 until the end of Sept. 1975 and everyone had gone their own ways and there wasn't much for me to do; so one of the things my Dad and I did was go to the basketball games. I did "seek out" the opportunity to talk to Jerry at appropriate times, and that was that. I did NOT stalk him, no matter what he tells you!

In mid-January, it was the annual crosstown battle between Baker and Park Hills, and Baker was away, which meant Jerry did NOT announce; so I did (forwardly) go up and sit down next to Jerry and Tom. I think Tom invited me (??). After the game the three of us went to the lounge at the Holiday Inn; and I know I had something to drink and I never could hold my alcohol, and I sat on Jerry's lap! Oh my goodness. Then, in order to impress me I guess (I love to tell this one on him), he lit up a cigarette. Uh.....both my parents smoked, and I didn't, but I knew when someone was lighting the WRONG END! So he impressed me too! It's a miracle.....

The following weekend I guess he thought he should ask me out, and we went to see the "Hindenburg" after the basketball game. (Is it unusual that our first date was a catastrophe movie?) The rest is history.....

That was January 1976; we dated until early November and he broke up with me until January 1977. I always tell him that he got out of buying a good Christmas gift for me and he broke up with me after I had bought him a very nice and out-of-my-budget sweater for his birthday which is October 26 and I hadn’t even paid for it (!) so when that bill came, it was like a double whammy. In January 1977 he wanted to get back together, but I was 23 and he was 30 and I told him I had other things to do if this relationship wasn’t going anywhere! So he proposed and although his first idea was in mid-August, when I realized his sister was expecting a baby mid-August, the discussion didn’t even happen. We were married Thanksgiving weekend.

I think the biggest challenge to being married to a teacher in the high school you attended (other than the obvious financial challenges of his salary being the main salary) was learning to call the other teachers by their first names. It was a process and did not happen overnight. The easiest were the closest to our age, such as Marilyn and Dave A. The harder ones were the more elderly. The only principal I could never call by his first name was Fred Buschemeyer. By 1977 there was a different head principal so there never was an issue there. I would say it took about five years to “arrive.”

In an educator’s home, the primary emphasis is placed on lifelong learning. Even before we had children, our vacations were usually centered on visiting either (1) friends, or (2) some historical site, or (3) both! Almost every outing we took the kids on was educational. (The joke in our family is that our son says “I was ten years old before I realized that other families did more than take ‘nature walks’ on their vacations!” I believe he actually used that in a college presentation!) Books and trips to the library were frequent. Our kids learned their alphabet when they were two on a special keyboard for the old Commodore 64 computer!

The kids were never involved in anything unless the grades were there first. Our children were heavily involved with sports, and my son prepares to be a teacher and coach. My daughter coached track her first spring in college, and she is married to a basketball coach. Even though sports have been a heavy part of the family interest; the first thing was education.

Although I think it’s fair to say this can be true of other professions, and probably reflects the personality as much as anything, being married to an educator is that they have to “look everything up.” Something can come up in daily conversation and the educator has to “look that up.” (Or have me do it, frequently, as I have the laptop on my lap!) I have to say, the Internet is a wonderful thing. I can say it usually is not boring, although I am writing this during March Madness—sigh!

Daughter of an educator, wife of an educator and mother of a future educator. I really know nothing else! And now that we are soon to become grandparents, I fully expect it to continue to the next generation.

On Deck: Love the One You’re With

In The Hole: Old Friends.


  1. You're right about being married to a teacher. Education came before everything. Every vacation is somehow a learning experience. As for "looking it up," my husband would tell you that that's what librarians are always doing. :)

    Keep writing, Denise.

  2. Know what you mean about calling your teachers by their first name... Still really hard for me not to call your husband Mr. Derge! Really.

  3. Yes Greg, I still laugh about that day! We both (Jerry and I) kinda went nuts on you! The only "Mr. Derge" now is Joel. Ha!

    Another story you particularly would find entertaining and I thought I posted this once before but I must not have hit "submit" or whatever: back in the day when we had "calling lists" for snow days, the person to call Jerry was Bob McMillan. Most often, Jerry was already in the shower and I answered the phone next to the bed. I usually had some discouraging word to say to Bob, because I had to get up and go to work like the rest of the world. He took it graciously and teased me about it too. That is how things changed as I became the spouse of a colleague, instead of a student.

  4. Our courtship, if one can call it that, was brief. I remember the many "after the game" nights @the Holiday Inn through football and basketball season, but I remember you as always being there w/Jerry.

    Don and I had our first date Halloween 1976. The Saturday evening parade was cancelled due to rain and since we were both already @ the school, he asked me to dinner. We dated the month of November, became engaged December 5, 1976, and married July 9, 1977. It must have been basketball season 1977 that I remember seeing the two of you together @the Holiday Inn. I know you missed our wedding because Jerry was out of town, and we were in NYC for Thanksgiving when you and Jerry married. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, Denise, and other times it seems like decades. You will be celebrating 34 years in a few days! Congratulations!

    When I began teaching in Fairborn, I had no thoughts of marrying anyone, teacher or otherwise-the same w/Don. We had both recently emerged a bit scathed from relationships where the individuals were hell bent on marriage, and neither of us was the slightest bit interested. We couldn't run fast enough from those people. How ironic. We date a month-we become engaged.

  5. I will always regret us not being at each other's weddings. I was stupid, should have just gone! You did have a better excuse! Ha!