Junior high teacher taught more than woodworking

When I sat down to hang a picture frame and put my awl to the frame, I remembered Mr. Todd. When I was sanding a piece of wood and knew to trust my own sense of smooth, I remembered Mr. Todd. When I drew the plans for a small bookcase I wanted for my study, I remembered Mr. Todd.

Mr. Todd was my seventh- and eighth-grade shop teacher at Hinsdale Junior High School from 1953-55. He began my love of hand tools and the beauty of woods. He looms in my memory as a self-effacing man who taught skills, procedures and respect for work. He practiced his craft and art for any who would join him. I always looked forward to his classes and built a workbench when we moved into our house in 1975. Whenever I sit down at my workbench, I think of Mr. Todd.

I suspect that few of his students remember him. The era was blissful of real human endeavor. Now Hinsdale doesn’t have a junior high school and sure as heck doesn’t have shop. Doing well in shop doesn’t raise your GPA. I’m mindful of these bits of my education, having become a teacher myself in 1963 and still conducting classes in 2020. Who will appreciate being able to use such a hand tool as cursive writing? Constructing an argument? Finishing an essay to its smooth core? Thus we all labor, it comes with the territory. Thank you, Mr. Todd. — Brooks Goddard, Needham, Mass. (Hinsdale resident 1950-58)