Remembering Chuck Lynch
By Algie Ray Smith


Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM



  I was in Chuck Lynch’s (we called him Mr. Lynch, of course) Industrial Arts class. I was struggling with a router, trying to make two little rectangular legs for the bookcase I had been building all semester. Every time I got the legs almost perfect, one of them would split open, and I would have to start all over. I was almost 
ready to give up.
  I looked over at Bubba Hinton. He was working on a lazy Susan for the dining room table, four curved legs and all, that he had made…with a center leaf. He said if he had time he would make six matching chairs. His table made my little project look 
sad. Then I remembered an old adage I had read: clever hands, dull mind; dull mind, clever hands. I knew Bubba had both clever hands and a clever mind, so I look around for someone else I could con into helping me.
  I found him in Don Eaton. Don had asked me numerous times if he could copy my English assignment. I always turned him down, but today I sought him out. “Don,” I said, as I walked up to his work bench. He was putting cherry stain on a coffee 
table that looked lit it had been purchased at Logan County Hardware. (He was that good.))
  “Whatcha want?” he asked.
  “How are you coming on that 300-word essay for Mrs. Ruth Carpenter’s class..it’s due Friday.”
  “I’m still thinking about a topic.”
  “This is Wednesday…shouldn’t you be moving along?”
  “I know. I know. I’ll think of something tonight.”
   “And stay up all night writing a paper that might get you a “D:, if you’re lucky,” I added.
   He put down his brush. “Well, English don’t come easy to everyone.”
   “Comes easy to me,” I goaded.
   “Hey, take a look at your bookcase. You don’t know how to do doodily in this class.”
   “Sure don’t.  This isn’t my forte.”
   “I don’t know about no fort, but you ain’t got a knack for woodworking.”
   “Nope. But I could write your essay for you tonight, give it to you tomorrow, and you’d have time to doctor it up a little so that it looked like your own work.”
   He picked up the brush again. “I dunno. What if someone found out?”
   “No one will…unless you tell them. What happens in industrial arts, stays in industrial arts, as Mr. Lynch is always telling us.”
   “What do you want? I know you. You want SOMETHING. I ain’t got no money.”
  (He didn’t have any grammar either.)
   “Let’s say that I’m being a Good Samaritan..but..I could use a litter favor. Say like making the small legs for my bookcase so that it will stand up straight.”
    “I could do that…but what if Mr. Lynch sees me doing it? He knows I’m finished with my project except for two coats of stain.”
    “How long would it for you to make those legs? I mean..you know..Mr. Lynch hasn’t forbidden you touch a power took like he has me.”
    “I could make them in TEN minutes…flat.”
    “With a little ripple or wavy design for looks,” I added.
    “Sure. Queen Anne style if you wanted.”
    “Nah. Nothing too fancy. Mr. Lynch knows I’m not an A in here, just like Mrs. Carpenter knows you’re not more than a C in English.”
    “But….what if Mr. Lynch sees me?”
    “I can keep him busy. I know how.”
    “And I’d get my 300-word essay tomorrow…on a subject I’d be interested in like how to fine tune a car engine?”
    “There IS a God in heaven,” I fairly radiated. “I can write you an essay in layman’s terms…mechanic talk..that even a baby could understand.”
    “It’s a deal. Drop a couple of blocks of wood back there by the power tools, get Mr. Lynch’s attention..and you’re on.”
    “GREAT! And I’ll deliver you your first A paper in English.”
    I looked around. Mr. Lynch was at his desk, probably trying to decide if I would pass the course or if he would have to grade me on the curve to get rid of me. I mean no one else ever flunked industrial arts two years in a row. “Got a minute, Mr. Lynch?”
    He looked up at me, a glint of doubt in his eyes. “What is it this time? Your boards don’t fit together? You split the wood again? You poked out all the knot holes?”
    “NO, SIR. Nothing about class. I was wondering if you knew anything about girls?”
    “Sure, I do. They’re opposite of boys. Didn’t you learn anything in Mrs. Borche's health class?”
   “Yes, Sir. What I mean is…see I got my eye on this girl Emily Glenn…and…well, do you know what makes girls tick?”
   “They have hearts that pump blood through their bodies same as you and I do.”
   “What I really mean….”
   “Now, we’re getting somewhere. What do you really mean?”
    I was simply stalling for time, trying to keep him occupied while Don make the legs.  
“How did you meet your wife? I mean, you know, when you first met her, how did you get her to go a date with you?”
   “Do you really want to know, or is this some of your silly prattle?”
   “Honest Injun. I want to know all about girls. I’m asking several older men to same question to see if there’s anything in their techniques that I might find useful.”
   ‘Okay…if you really want to know…I was walking across Western College’s campus one morning back in 1950..when..but, say, let me tell the story the way I’ve heard my wife Hilda tell it at least a dozen times.”
    I walked around behind him and he wheeled around in chair to face me, settled back and began. In the background, Don was making the wood chips fly.

                                                                    Mrs. Lynch’s Story

  On a balmy April 20, 1950, I was walking to my dorm West Hall from classes in Cherry Hall at Western College. As I passed the Cedar House, I met a guy carrying a drawing box (the clue that he was an Industrial Arts major). He spoke..so did I. I’d never seen him before.
   When I arrived at the dorm, I told my roommate I had just met the “worst-looking a leather bomber jacket, a rain hat (that looked as if a Sherman tank had run over itj), jeans, and moccasins. I told her I didn’t know why he spoke to me. I’d never seem him before, didn’t know him at all. From my description, she said it sounded like someone in her English class. Also, she stated that he ate at Hilltopper’s Café, a local college eatery located at 15th and Center Streets, which was where my roomate and I often ate also.
   That night during our evening meal, my roommate pointed to a guy and asked, “Is that the one/” I nodded. She said, “He’s the one in my English class..his name is Chuck Lynch."
   The next morning at breakfast, Chuck and his two roommates were in the adjoining booth. As they were leaving, Chuck stepped over to us and asked me, “Is this seat taken? (a classic line)? When we finished eating, Chuck walked with us to our classes at Cherry Hall; and when my class was over, there he was by the door, waiting. We chatted and went to other classes. I didn’t expect to see him again.
   That night my roommate and I walked by Potter Hall (Chuck’s dorm) on our way to eat. We heard someone call to us. Looking up, I saw Chuck sitting in the window of his third floor room. We waited while he came down to join us.
   Love at first sight!! I think so. We talked for hours. He was a 24-year-old Air Force veteran and had worked various jobs for three years before coming to Western…funded by the G.I. Bill.
   I was a 20-year-old country girl from South Central Kentucky and had entered Western nine days after graduating high school in 1947.
  Often our dates were seeing a movie at the Capitol Theater (balcony seats were 34 cents). Sometimes we went to a record store and bought a record, just sat there and listened in the booths that were provided for that purpose. The firs song we heard together was ‘Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered’. We also took long walks (neither of us had a car) around the campus.
   I know I felt a deep attraction for Chuck, but I wondered if he felt the same. We had held hands, but no kisses. One night while sitting on the steps between Van Meter and the President’s Home, he KISSED me.
  Almost from our first meeting it seemed as though ‘it was meant to be’. On June 3, seven weeks from our first meeting, Chuck gave me my engagement rign. I had small bride doll in my room with others in my doll collection. Chuck gave me a medium sized square box. Inside the box was a groom doll to go with my bride. I thanked him.
  He replied, “I don’t think you looked at the doll very closely.”
   “Yes, I did.”
   “Take a second look.”
    I looked again…more carefully. I found the RING tied to the groom’s hand. I was both surprised and elated!!
  At that time Chuck had three more years of college and I had one. We were married within four months from the time we met. We lived in married student housing for veterans that Western maintained on 17th Street and Normal Drive.
   After graduation we moved to Russellville to teach. I am, of course, teaching in elementary school, while Chuck is teaching Industrial Arts in the high school. It’s been wonderful years.
   Ever so often I laughingly tell him he was =the worst looking guy' I ever saw, but, somehow, I was still attracted to him.
                                                                    
                                                                    
The LoJo

   Mr. Lynch was silent for a moment as if he were savoring an old memory or two before he spoke. “And that’s the way it was, Boy. No technique. No big schemes. Love just happens. Pow! IT HITS YOU!”
  “Gee, Sir,” I nodded, “that’s a very…beautiful…unique..charming story.” Mr. Lynch raised his eyebrows.
  “Nothing unique or beautiful to it. Oh, she is beautiful and unique and so much more; but you heard what she said about me..about me being the worst looking guy. And you know what? That was one of my GOOD days.”
  “I agree… I mean I don’t agree that you were the worst…but…”
   “Boy, why don’t you take your foot out of your mouth and let it walk you back over to your work bench. You need to be working on something, don’t you?”
  “Yes, Sir. Right now, Sir.”
  When I returned to my bench, there was a perfect pair of small rectangular four-inch high bookcase feet. They were perfect. Don was no where to be seen.

  The next morning before classes, I met Don at the stadium gate on Summer Street. I knew that he stopped there every morning for a last Chesterfield…or whatever that stinking stuff was he smoked. Sure enough, there he was sitting on the curb, just off school property, puffing away. I pulled my Chevy over and extended our the window the paper I had written for him.
  “Thanks, Don. The feet fit my bookcase like a dream. Soon, I’ll be ready to have Mr. Lynch give me a grade on my project.”
   Don flipped the half-smoke cig into the middle of the st4reet, stood up, and took the paper. “Thanks. I hope we both get ‘A’s”.
   “We will. But remember…put it in your own handwriting before you turn it in. And change a few words here and there.”
   “Good advice. Thanks.”

   The following Monday Mr. Lynch sent the Industrial Arts class to the stadium to study the way the steps were cut into the hillside; but as I got up go, he said, “Hold on a minute, Boy; I want to show you something.”
   Mr. Lynch waited until the rest of the class had left, calling after a couple of them, Bobby Gilliam and Glenn Ray Jones, to be in charge until he caught up with them.
   When the shop was empty, Mr. Lynch scowled, “Let’s take a look at your project.”
We walked over to where my bookcase rested against a wall. “Two coat of clear varnish, just like you said,” I pointed out to him.
   “Yes. A couple more coats couldn’t hurt. It would hide some of the spots where your hammer must have missed the nails.” Then he lowered his eyes and spoke softly. “You didn’t make the feet, did you?”
   I am always (usually) truthful. “No, Sir, I didn’t.”
   “Want to know how I know? They’re not marked by your style which ia rather, off center kind of modernistic approach…what I call early Leaning Tower of Pisa. You know who made those bookcase feet?”
   Of course, I knew.
   “We both have our heads on straight then because Don Eaton made them for you.”
   “I thought you didn’t see him, Sir.”
   “I didn’t have to. They have Don’s name written all over them…his style. See these little dove tails? These little rounded corners. They’re Don’s trademark. No one else in this class does that.”
   I gulped!!!!
   “I thank you being honest, Boy. Someone else might have tried to make up a story or deny it…but not you.”
   “I should have known that I couldn’t fool you, Sir. It takes a master craftsman like you to notice such slight variances (I decided to lay it on thick.) Like Mozart had an ear for music, you have the same magic touch…the woodworking magic touch that is.”
   “Boy, I’m going to overlook this, although I might have to rolls up my pants legs. IT’S GETTING DEEP in here. You go on out and don’t mention this to anyone else.”
   “Do I still get a grade, Sir?”   “Yes,” he smiled. “I’ll give you your USUAL.”

   Little did I know until later that afternoon that Mrs. Carpenter was having a similar conversation with Don Eaton. Don told me all about it.
   “Don,” Mrs. Ruth said, giving him one of her sternest looks, “you know this is NOT your work. In fact, I doubt if this report is anyone at this high school’s work. It’s too professional. This article was written by a very astute writer with knowledge in his field. This is QUALITY work.”
   “I’m sorry, Ma’m. I forgot about the report until it was too late to do one on my own.”
   “I’m not giving you and ‘F’ although you might deserve one. If you will promise never to commit plagiarism again, I’ll assign this report a ‘D’. Do you agree to these terms?”
    “Yes, Ma’m.”
    “Now I don’t know which magazine you copied this from, but I assure you the author would not appreciate you putting your name on his work.”
     “No, Ma’m.”
     “Thank you for being honest with me, Don.”

    “Don,” I whined, “how could you be so stupid as to turn my report in without changing some of the words?”
    “I was in a hurry. I didn’t start copying it until just before class. I forgot to change any words.” 
    I told him what Mr. Lynch had said to me. “I hope we’ve both learned a lesson. You can’t pull the wool over some teachers’ eyes, especially Mrs. Ruth and Mr. Lynch.”
    “You sure CAN’T, but…say…what does ‘plagiarism’ and ‘genre’ mean?”
    “I know what ‘plagiarism’ is..it’s copying someone else’s work and calling it your own. One time a girl in MY English class turned in the poem ‘Trees’ by Joyce Kilmer..and didn’t change a single word of..not even the title. She swore that it was her original work and that she had never heard of Joyce Kilmer.
    “Well, that makes two of us,” Don reckoned. I ain’t never heard of HER neither.”




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