Jack Huyler Remembers Tom May Teaching Science at Thacher

Jack Huyler
Neophytes Tom May CdeP 1952 and I arrived at Thacher in September, 1949, I to teach him about horses and literature; he to teach me about altruism.
Neophytes Tom May and I arrived at Thacher in September, 1949, I to teach him about horses and literature; he to teach me about altruism.

Very few high school sophomores are altruists who practice what they espouse. Tom was and is one of those rarities. As student, teacher, trustee, and alumnus, he has unceasingly thought of the welfare of others before his own.

Tom was photographer for El Archivero and the School; he was an A Camper. Camera hanging from his neck and mounted on Rowena, Tom documented Thacher at home and in the far reaches of the Los Padres National Forest. We camped together more than a dozen times, and he taught me more than I taught him: Even on a rough night in the mountains, the welfare of his campmates was foremost in his thoughts and deeds.

Tom displayed only one inconsistency—one flaw:He would not spit on Spitting Rock (“Stupid superstition!”), yet he taught us on April 1, 1952, at Pine Mountain Lodge that if one says, “Rabbits! Rabbits!” on the first of any month before saying anything else, he or she will receive an unexpected package in the mail. Hmmm! (Be that as it May, my middle-aged children and I try to remember to say “Rabbits! Rabbits!” the first thing every month.)
After graduation from Williams College, May returned to Thacher for five years to teach Physical Sciences. Was he an outstanding teacher? You be the judges:

One memorable Wednesday the School, trooping into the Study Hall for Assembly, was startled to see a giant hawser coming in through a window in the back of the room and traversing the room to the podium.
Mr. May spoke: “This hawser represents geologic time. It starts at the tractor shed and if I had enough rope to be accurate, it would wind all the way back from here to the tractor shed. He picked up the end of the rope, pointing to the piece of tape wrapped around the hemp to keep it from unraveling.

“That one-inch tape represents Life on Earth.
“The thickness of this Kleenex is Man’s time on Earth.”

May blew on the Kleenex until it separated, “This is the recorded history of Man.”

A memorable boy, man, teacher, and trustee!


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