Mark Twain and B. Basinger

An empty chair. A row of books. My teacher is gone, but her story and Mark Twain’s tales remain.

From Twain’s Life on the Mississippi:

I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the sombre shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun.

There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

Also, from Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer:

Barley-corn, Barly corn, Injun meal shorts,
Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts! (LOL)

Twain was/is fun, clever, morally and politically forward-thinking. Still! I love Jumping Frog and Huck Finn. I love the things he said and the wisdom he conveyed through innocent eyes. He gave me pride for my home state instead of disdain for its bumpkins and isolation. Twain is a bright spot in Missouri history and Billie Basinger gave me Twain.

My junior high English teacher, Billie Basinger, died a few years ago. I posted this picture for those who knew her as a memorial of the lives she touched.

mark twain books 2.jpg

I only knew Ms. Basinger for two years. I knew nothing about her personal life or how she died. I only know she passed from cancer. But this intelligent woman, this great teacher, gave me an island of words and ideas in a sea of wheat fields.

If we can’t thank our teachers, if we can’t show them or others how much they make a difference, then we will stop having teachers. People who work for less for longer than any other important people-saving profession.

In other countries, teachers are paid at the same rate as doctors and lawyers. Teachers care just as much or more and they do it for not as much money. At least, at the very least, thank them every chance you get.

Ms. Basinger taught in a small district, in a rural area. She definitely did it because she cared.

Thanks, Ms. B. You made a difference in so many lives. I’m a writer today because a few people like you cared.

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