Remembers her 7th-grade teacher Roy Hefner

To the Editor:

I have often thought of Roy Hefner in the 33 years since I was a seventh-grader at Orville Wright Junior High. To this day I repeat what he made us all shout out in the consumer education unit of his social studies class: “Read the Contract!” and “I Am The King!” or “I am the Queen!” (meaning that one should not be bullied into hard-sell transactions, but always demand one’s consumer rights.)

I will also always remember Mr. Hefner as a prankster, and frequently we, his students, were mobilized as the engine of his practical jokes. One day we were dispatched to the typing class next door to sing “I’m A Little Teapot,” whereupon Mr. Wachtfogel (the typing teacher) retaliated a few minutes later by marching his class in to regale us with “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Mr. Hefner also escorted us to the far end of the P.E. field once for no other purpose than to wave at his house and his wife. He frequently included absurd joke answers in his oral quizzes, which he delivered with the enthusiasm of a vaudevillian.

But one day our class decided we were going to prank Mr. Hefner, so during recess we created a plan. Since we had a quiz after recess, and we knew that Mr. Hefner always began a quiz by standing behind his podium and saying, “Take out a pencil and a piece of paper,” we conspired to make that our cue to walk out of the room en masse. Smirking a little, we went dutifully back to our seats when the end-of-recess bell rang, and we waited.

Unsuspecting, Mr. Hefner stood behind his podium, shuffled some papers, and said, “Take out a pencil and a piece of paper,” and as planned, we got up and filed out of the room. We stood snickering outside, very amused with ourselves. I will never forget seeing Mr. Hefner framed in the doorway gaping at us with a comic mug of disbelief and shock, making us laugh even more.

Then, without missing a beat, he straightened himself up, strode to the door, leaned out with a hand to his mouth, and shouted, “QUESTION ONE!” A flurry of giggling kids tumbled back into the room, running as fast as they could towards a test — something I’ll wager few in education have ever seen. But we’d hustle for Mr. Hefner, laughing all the way, because we loved him.

Roy Hefner was not a good teacher. He was a great teacher, one of the best I have ever been privileged to know. His good humor and lessons about self-esteem were touchstones for me during a difficult childhood (and remembered well into adulthood.) He served our community with energy, dedication, and intelligence, and I am grateful to be one of the many recipients of his gifts of wisdom and wisecracks. There are too few like him, and we were all lucky to have him.

So, as one of the little fledglings he helped launch into successful lives, and on behalf of the many he taught and served so well, I say, “Thank you, Mr. Hefner. Thanks, and goodbye. We will miss you.”

Rev. Elizabeth Oakes, Mar Vista

Calls tree pruning on 2nd and 4th streets ‘butchery’

To the Editor:

During the past week the city has been “pruning” the trees on Second and Fourth streets in Santa Monica. The operation should be called “butchery” instead. The canopy has been severely destroyed and the trees are half bare. Is this a continuation of last year’s debacle?

The city continues to treat the living ecology with these acts of savagery and a devil-may-care

attitude. Destroy the trees, kill the

squirrels and birds and what is next?

There is money wasted everywhere except where it’s needed most. Wake up Santa Monica, your city is going to pot.

Herb Silverstein, Santa Monica