Hopefully, we all had a teacher like him. The one that shapes the way we think, and helps you well beyond leaving school. Mr. Norwood was/is my guy.
He taught photography at Bangor High School, and I took it as a senior. You couldn’t take it before then, because it was the one popular art class at school. I was 17. My parents had just got a divorce, to set the stage for you. Hormonal high school girl who was the butt of all jokes.
Fast forward 15 years, as me and one of my only friends from high school (I also hadn’t seen her in years) drove to his house on the coast of Maine, we reminisced about him… “remember when he let me bring my cat AND my dog to class!?” Meg said… “remember when we would sit in his office and eat sardines on saltines just to be like him?” But what I remember most is sitting on the floor in the darkroom and I had probably just finished up a crying session and he told me that those popular kids who tease me? “This is the best they’ll ever have it.” Which MAKES NO SENSE to a teenager. I’ll never forget it. Also, “more filter more time” he signed in our yearbooks.
As we got closer and closer to his house, we got more and more nervous. Have we put this whole interaction on a pedestal? What if he is just some old guy? I had been trying to find him every year since I had moved to Boston. He was hidden so well. I finally found him a couple weeks ago by contacting the newspaper of the town he lives in. I had seen an ad for an exercise class that his wife was teaching (I remembered his wife’s name because he talked about her often), and asked them if they could pass along my info. They replied back to me immediately, and with his phone number. It took me 2 HOURS of his phone number sitting there, dialed in, to finally hit “call”. Would he even remember me? I mean, he SURELY is 90 by now! He was SO OLD to us at 17, he he…My dad informed me that he thought that they were the same age…NO WAY..yep. It’s true.
I wanted to know everything about him. We didn’t know much because we were teenagers who had SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS to deal with in school. Like who was wearing what, and who was holding hands in the hallway. 🙂 I don’t remember much about the class itself, I just remember being in the darkroom a lot (crying mostly…) and sitting with him while he ate sardines. I wanted to tell him that I am a photographer. That this is what I do, and it’s all because of him. He made such a difference in my life, and I just wanted to give him a hug and thank him.
We arrived a little early and he wasn’t home. This was great because we got to talk to his wife for a bit. She is so totally in love with him, and what FUN that is to see. I see couples crazy in love with each other for my job, and they’re all fairly new to this relationship thing. To witness it after so many years made me hopeful about my own life. Sylvia gasped when I asked her how they met, totally smitten with him. He walked in shortly after and it was like no time had passed, and he was same ol Norwood. We didn’t build this visit up, we didn’t over excite ourselves. He was exactly the same, amazing person that we remembered him being. I know that I am not the only person whose life he made a huge difference in. After sharing this adventure on Facebook, a lot of people came out of the woodworks showing their gratitude for him. So, even though you rarely see the internet and who knows if you’ll ever see this: Thank you, Mr. Norwood. From me, and every student who was lucky enough to be guided by you.
Sylvia took this one!
Shot on my Mamiya RB67 on Ilford Delta 100, processed at home, and instants with my Mamiya Universal and Fuji FP-100c.