Early Influences


[ Dad and Mom Christoph ]

December 11 – My parents, though we were far from rich or well-to-do, supplied us with plenty of food (you should see my picture when I was in sixth grade I was just about as wide as I was tall), and though we hardly ever had new clothes in a family of seven children, Mom made sure that we wore clean ones when we were off to school. (I can still remember wearing the shoes that had been passed on down through a brother or two before they got to me)

When she learned how to sew, Mom made me a couple dresses that I can remember to this day. Since my dad never owned a car, he walked a couple miles to work every day down the road from our house, while my mom stood out in the middle of the road waving to him as long as he was in sight. The very special relationship they had was passed on to us, and all seven had happy marriages, with maybe a squabble now and then!

After I started out in first grade (who ever heard of a kindergarten back then?), I truly fell in love with my teacher, Miss Adams, in our little country school. By the time I had finished a half year, I was passed on into second grade, so took two years in one. Many times I was asked by the teacher to go to the back of the room with three or four kids who were having a hard time learning, BUT she didn’t let me off the hook! I still had to get my work done as well.

In junior high, there were wonderful teachers, all interested in my well-being, but two or three stand out in my mind. John Hickey, who later became superintendent of schools in the area, was the best teacher I ever had. Of course, he knew his subject (history) very well and had a way of presenting the lessons to us as nobody either before or after could do.


[ Playing baseball in Africa ]]

As I look back on those special days, I know why I became a teacher. As a kid, I wanted to be a big league baseball player (thanks to all of the time I spent with my brothers learning how to hit and run and catch bare-handed), or a doctor when I was in high school. As it turned out, once I thought seriously of what I would like to do with my life, I remembered Dr. Hickey and my plan to teach just as he did. I also had the privilege of being co-editor of our school newspaper, The Wilson Citizen, of which he was the sponsor.


[ I’ve got a permanent love of books of all kinds ]

So many college teachers influenced me for the right as well. Up until my last year in high school, I had never ever been inside a church except for a funeral for one of our neighbors. However, as a pastor came out to visit my brother and me each week for the summer, we decided at the age of 15 and 18 to become church members of the pastor’s church.

Because of that, I went off to a college in Massachusetts which was sponsored by our denomination. Just looking through the year book today, so many memories come back to me, memories of those who were always helping me to advance, not only in class, but in my life in general. Even after I was teaching, both in the States, and in Africa, I regularly received letters from some of them.

My parents stuck with me through the early days of growing up, and teachers were very special after I had started off to school. They were the biggest influence on my life in later years, and I still try to live the way they did, helping in any way that I can. – CHRIS

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