Dr D (as I always called her) was an English professor as well as one of the team who taught the values classes at LC. We were lucky enough to have her as our teacher for many classes and always greatly enjoyed our lessons and her enthusiasm for literature. She was teeny-tiny--I am actually taller than she was which says a lot--and she always wore high heels and I often wondered how in the world she managed. She was a firecracker--a ball of energy and ideas and she loved to laugh. She was a fierce woman with so much integrity in the face of adversity and I admired her courage greatly.
I can recall clearly the incident when we were reading Gulliver’s Travels and she bid us look at the first page. We looked. She said look again. We looked again. She said look harder. Finally, she read out loud the clever wordplay from the rogue that was Jonathan Swift which talked of his beloved old school master, Mister Bates. Now Mister Bates was a fine master, good old Master Bates.
Master Bates…masturbates. Aha!
Finally we got it and as the light bulb flickered on above our heads we hooted with laughter. I have never forgotten that and I always make sure to point that out to anyone reading Gulliver’s Travels lest they miss it.
It was also in her class that the unfortunate incident occurred whilst watching the film version of Wuthering Heights starring Laurence Oliver where Cathy says, “Oh Heathcliff! Gather up all the heather to fill my arms!” and I leapt up and shouted,
Like in that scene from When Harry Met Sally. I was *mortified* but Dr D told me later that she felt that way too so it made me feel so much better.
As Spiderman was an English education major and I was an English minor we had many classes with Dr D. I wrote some of best papers for her, her teaching inspired me to write and research at a deeper level. But the best class we took from her was Shakespeare.
Why was that class the best? Because we took it in London in 1990. Spiderman and I were privileged to be a part of the Mary D. Bowman programme known as LC/MC Overseas where Louisiana College and Mississippi College spent a semester living and studying in London as well as travelling around Scotland and Wales over the Easter holidays. The programme was in its infancy and we were lucky enough to go during the second year. We chose to go that year because the two subjects being taught were English with Dr D and science by a professor from Mississippi College. To take Shakespeare in London with our favourite professor and friend was a dream come true. I loved that she stayed at the hotel with us (some later professors in residence stayed elsewhere away from all the students) but she was always there, in the thick of it with us.
The programme helped us to leave the sheltered confines of Louisiana and see a more global perspective on the world. We saw art, went to the theatre, discussed current events and became more well rounded people. Our eyes were opened. For me it was like having been in a desert all my life and suddenly feeling the rain on my skin. Spiderman felt that way as well. That was largely due to Dr D and her enthusiasm for all that the United Kingdom had to offer.
It was on that trip in 1990, on our one year anniversary, while sitting on the old green sofa at our beloved Saint Margaret’s Hotel that Spiderman proposed to me. Being me, I burst into tears (I do that easily) and right at that moment who should walk in by Dr D who saw me crying and thought something tragic had happened. Immediately, she rushed to my side and asked if I was ok. All I could do was hiccup and say, “We’re going to get married!” and she started to cry as well! She was so happy and hugged us over and over and kept saying that we were such a perfect match for each other. We went to bed, elated in our secret good news and by the time we came down for breakfast the next day the word was out. Everyone knew. And I do mean everyone. We were getting winks and smiles and hugs from all the waitresses as well as from our LC/MC compatriots.
Connie Douglas is one of the main reasons we are here today. She made us believe it was possible. So many people tried to slam the door on our dreams, but she opened the door wider and told us walk in.
Thank you Dr D. We will miss you.