Monday, October 19, 2020

My High School Teacher Mr. Burke


OMG I just found out that one of my most favorite teachers in high school Mr. Cal Burke is the late uncle of my Long Beach friend Rick M. It is indeed a small world. 

Mr. Burke was such a fun, cool teacher. Rick I have the fondest memories of your uncle. The one and only time I ditched high school and went downtown with my bff Mary, Mr. Burke knew we weren’t sick. The next day when I saw him he asked “How did yesterday go? Did you and Mary have fun?” You couldn’t put anything past him but he was so cool. I’ve never forgotten him.


 Here is the chain of events:

Rick posted this on facebook:

Coach Padilla was my Uncle Cal's best friend. They coached together at Roosevelt, and were lifelong friends. It was my good fortune to have played golf a whole bunch of times with these two, and their mutual admiration for one another was easy to see when we were out at Griffith Park or "Almansor" as they liked to call it . Coach knew that being Cal's nephew, I could take it and he'd throw a crack or two about my game, but he was more than generous with his "Good shots", and "Nice outs". But the best part came after the round when his wife Dora would show up and we'd all sit outside at Almansor, having a beer and talking about nothing, and everything, till Dora said it was time to go. How lucky was I to have known such a man.

Here's the link with picture of coach Padilla:

the following was the exchange:

Barb: I was at Roosevelt High school when Coach Padilla was there. Mike Garrett was an upper class man and star football player. He was in my Spanish class. Was your uncle Cal coaching at Roosevelt from 1961-1964? I loved going to the football games in high school and had many friends that went to our rival Garfield high. As soon as I saw the photo of Coach Padilla I recognized him. Your words are such a nice homage to his memory. Thank you for this post.

I believe my uncle was coaching the track team along with the football team, but I'm not sure of them timeline; most likely he was there and check your old yearbooks. My Uncle Cal Burke passed in 2006 and it's his telescope I refurbished. I loved to listen to my Uncle and Al talk about the players they coached, and the games that were played, Mike being at the top of that list. It wasn't uncommon to have more than a handful of people come by to say Hi to Coach when we were sitting outside at Almansor. My uncle and Coach Padilla belonged to that group of men who were respected and revered in their neighborhoods and their professions; and that was more than enough for them.
I then sent this to Mary 
 Mary if you have a yearbook readily available can you see if the Mr. Burke (reminded me of Bil Cosby) was Cal Burke and what he taught at Roosevelt. Do you remember him? did you work for him in a free period too.*  He was the one that knew we ditched school the one and only time we ditched and he confronted me the next day saying did I have a good time yesterday when I was sick and didn't come to school. But he didn't report us. He was a very cool guy and I remember him so well. Anyway just wondering if its the same Mr. Burke. don't recall his first name. was it cal? 
 and she responded:

What a nice article on Coach Padilla.  I remember the face but he wasn't in our yearbook.  Here is the photo of Mr. Burke.  Yes, I worked in that little room with you.  Did Jean work with us too?  We had to type those locker cards or something.  Didn't we have to type one of his papers for him?  Who knew that one day I would be typing catalog cards at the LA Central Library one day...good experience.  I do remember he was a riot and it was a fun time.  I feel like you got Ronnie K  locker number and put something in his locker...was that right or was it just an idea???   A nice memory.  Talk soon


I posted the above photo of Mr. Burke from the high school annual and Rick said:


Yep, that's my Uncle Cal. He went on to get his Phd. in education and was director of all the continuation schools in Los Angeles when he retired. There is a continuation high school named in his honor. He was also the past president of the Los Angeles Schools Referee Association and a decorated pilot in the Civil Air Patrol. For me, he was someone who loved his family and took great joy in watching me and my sons play ball. He's responsible for my love of cigars, good Scotch, and any game that's played with maximum effort, regardless of the outcome. I miss him daily. Thank you for sharing, And knowing him, he would've remembered you fondly.
This from Jeannie who also worked with Mary and I with Mr. Burke:

Yes, I did have the locker duty class with you and Mr. Burke.  I think it was our senior year.  Things get a little foggy after 56 years, but I do remember what a nice man Mr. Burke was – he was cool when most teachers in those years were so proper and never spoke to the students like real people. 

 Memories, memories, memories!!




*I had this special elective class with my friends Mary and Jeannie. We would meet during the period and type up locker cards and combinations for all the students. If a student forgot his combination we could look it up for them. This was in the mid 1960's so everything was type written no computers.

The entrace to our high school Theodore Roosevelt High. We were the "Rough Riders"


My final thoughts in my response to Rick:

I think it is so serendipitous that you posted what you did today. Through this post I found out that Mr. Burke was your uncle. I love hearing the things he gave you from shared experiences. You are very lucky to have had him in your family. Ever since this morning's remembrance I have been thinking of teachers and there are only two that stand out in my high school years. It is not for what I remembered that they taught me but it is how they made me feel when I was with them. Your Uncle Cal made me feel happy. He didn't talk down to me or my friends. He made me feel like I was good company. He taught me so much by just being himself. I respected him not because he demanded to be respected. He was such a naturally great guy. Even as a young teen I recognized how genuine he was. I've tried to think of the teachers I had in high school. I remember a couple of names but only two your uncle is one of them, that I truly have carried in my heart all my life. Maya Angelou's quote came to mind in thinking about your uncle Cal.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” thanks for posting today. He was a wonderful man. Mr. Burke I only regret that I never had the chance to tell you that you made a difference in my life.





No comments:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin