Sunday, November 16, 2008


In my backwoods school my class had between twenty-eight and thirty-three students through the years--we were the largest class the school ever had. In sixth and eighth grades my teacher was a guy named Perry Hudnall. He was the perfect teacher for me.

Perry was demanding. I responded by excelling.

One test in science had a True/False question, "There are nine planets in the universe." I answered "False," and missed it. I appealed to Perry afterward, saying, "There are nine planets around our sun, but there are plenty of other stars and we know that some of them must have planets.

He said, "So far no one has found planets orbiting other stars. When they find some, come back and I will give you that point."

Years later I heard about the first discovery of a planet outside the solar system. I decided to go see Perry the next time I went home. When I got home I heard about the accident.

Perry was an avid duck hunter. He was out on the lake with friends when a thunderstorm whipped up the lake and capsized their boat. His friends swam for shore but Perry, using recommended safety techniques, stayed with the boat. Perry was the only one of his group to die of exposure that day.

I would like to have kidded him about the discovery of that planet.

I should have thanked him for the good job he did.

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