In my senior year of Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York I took a Humanities class because a friend of mine had taken it the year before and raved about the teacher. We called him Dr. Doolittle. I don’t remember if that was his real name or not. I had taken the normal Art, Music, and English Literature classes, but I had never taken a class like his.
In the art class he showed paintings and taught the different ways they were produced, and I was surprised to learn that there were stories behind the pictures as well. I remember him dissecting the imagery of a wedding picture with a very pregnant bride. He explained that at that place and time a priest would only come around once every year or two and so, couples would become engaged and lived together as man and wife until the priest came to make it official. Every item in the painting had a reason for being there. He taught about the artists, their lives and styles.
We studied opera, the stories, music and stagecraft. For plays, he taught Shakespeare introducing the real meanings of the Old English terms.
We took field trips to the New York City Metropolitan Opera House, to the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, and to the Sterling Library in New Haven to see the architecture and the Gutenberg Bible. We also received reduced price tickets to many Broadway shows, sitting in the balcony seats usually reserved for the press.
Because of him I learned to appreciate the arts and to look further than the surface of everything I see.