One of my old art teachers, and a family friend, past away earlier this week. She was a true bohemian – colorful, wise and always making art. She taught art at my middle school I think for well over a decade. She was also an amazing artist in her own right with work stretching across many media. I always admired Fran Dolbeare because she was so different and if a student really cared about the art, she would take all the time in the world to teach them. She was also a good friend of my mom and dad’s as well. When I graduated college she gave me a collage that I still haven’t had framed yet – I thought that was so cool – to have somebody make a piece of art and give it to you to mark an occasion.
I think mom was substitute teacher for her or something because she called the house many years ago and I think my dad answered the phone (it was late, we were all asleep). Dad took the message and hung up.
Mom: Who was that?
Dan: The Grand Old Bear… ?
Mom: The Grand Old Bear… Grand Old… oh! Fran Dolbeare?
And so that is how she got our nickname of the Grand Old Bear. Though I’d say she was much more owlish with a face that defied snotty eighth graders with wisdom of the eons.
A similar story is how when I was a kid we’d say ‘gourdhead’ instead of ‘go ahead’ after one of us slurred the words together.