Walking the Walk
History Teacher Spreads the Word in Civil
Kathy Wallentine, a retired high school teacher from the Pacific Northwest, decided it was high time to experience a Northeast autumn. Her neighbor, Rosemary, agreed to accompany her on the trip, which would include a cruise from New York City to Halifax and back with Ports of Call in Bar Harbor, Maine, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard. They were to spend a few days in Manhattan before the cruise.
Kathy had a 30-year career in education, starting at Mt. Rainier High School in Des Moines, Washington. With degrees in both math and art, she taught art history, ceramics, and design as well as math analysis and geometry. Female math teachers were scarce and art teachers were plentiful, so after eight years her assignment became full-time math.
As a retiree, Kathy continued to work on association projects such as Read Across America, lobbying, and initiative campaigns. She became the president of WEA-Retired for four years and then served on the NEA Advisory Board for three years.
On their first morning in Manhattan, Kathy and Rosemary started out early from their Hotel on Lexington Avenue. The city was alive with sunshine as New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world kept the streets and sidewalks humming with traffic. The pair waited for a bus that would take them to East 80th Street, where they would visit The Frick, the former home of an 18th century steel magnate, now a museum of paintings, furniture and sculpture. After a breakfast at a deli bakery on Madison Avenue, the two found themselves by the wrought iron fence and garden entrance to the Frick. Filled with the beauty and peace of the collection, the two wandered up 5th Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to have a look at the Impressionists and the American Wing.
On to their next stop, the Cloisters. They boarded a but that took them through Harlem and across town from East to West. After a long ride north to Fort Tyron Park they arrived at the Cloisters, which contains, among other medieval relics, the splendid Unicorn Tapestries. This brief step into Medieval Europe ended with another bus ride back downtown. Rosemary wanted a late afternoon walk in Central Park.
The bus wound its way down town to East 72nd by the famous Dakota apartment building, and the two hopped off to enter the park by the Imagine memorial for John Lennon. They found his Strawberry Fields. Around the bend they were entertained by some jugglers and skateboarders and warmed by the late afternoon sun.
The two had tickets for an evening performance of the popular Broadway show “Wicked.” The friends had a delightful pre-theater meal at a restaurant with a patio and then hailed a taxi to the theater. Arriving early, they stepped into a coffee shop for a coke.
It seemed like a perfect day until Kathy reached into her bag for her wristlet, which contained their theater tickets. It wasn’t there. She panicked, and the two searched frantically. The question became, When was the credit card last used? Rosemary had paid the cab fare. They both remembered the wristlet on the table at the restaurant. Kathy used her cell phone to call the restaurant and the staff searched the dining area and the patio. Nothing was found.
Then Kathy’s cell phone rang. A voice on the phone said: “This is Mike, I have your wallet. It has your theater tickets.” He went on, “I am at Washington Square and I will bring your wallet to you at the theater if you will pay the cab.” Kathy thought to herself, “Pay the cab! You will receive more than cab fare.”
Minutes later, a cab approached with Mike holding the wristlet out the rear window behind the driver. Kathy handed Mike a fifty-dollar bill she had hidden in a pocket. As Mike handed over the wristlet, he said, “This is for my teachers.” He had found the cell number on Kathy’s business card and knew she was a retired teacher.