Emery “Joe” Hollerer was my high school English teacher and on Friday night at the 50th Reunion of the Beverly (MA) Class of 1963 we all had a chance to thank him for the role he has played in shaping our lives.
Emery “Joe” Hollerer and David Ferriero
My own love of literature and reading was fostered under his tutelage. He expected us to read at least 50 pages a night and to this day if I miss my quota I feel the guilt!
Senior year this English class was responsible for the high school newspaper and many of us were on the literary magazine staff, so teaching writing was an important part of Mr. Hollerer’s portfolio. Our efforts were returned with a rubber-stamped grading guide he developed—SPLAGM—which was the topic of much conversation Friday night! Spelling, punctuation, logic, arrangement, grammar, and maturity. One of my classmates admitted to him that he had always had someone else write his first and last paragraphs and Mr. Hollerer always praised only the first and last paragraphs of his papers!
Public speaking rounded out the curriculum for this class. Getting up in front of our classmates was pretty traumatic but Mr. Hollerer, as he did in every class, made learning fun. I particularly remember the week we did “demonstration speeches”—explaining how to do something. A friend who worked as a soda jerk in the local drug store made raspberry lime rickeys. I borrowed a neighbor’s barber kit which came with a set of instructions which I studied to death but never practiced. I was so confident that I had mastered the technique that I convinced the soda jerk to be my demonstration model. My first swipe up the back of the head convinced everyone that I didn’t know what I was doing. Mr. Hollerer called an end to my performance before further damage could be done!
In preparation for Friday night, Mr. Hollerer had reviewed the Class of 1963 Yearbook and came prepared to comment to each one of us some memory of our time with him. And, in exchange, we had the opportunity to thank him for being part of our lives.