Friday, September 28, 2018

More from Betsy on Professor Vardaman

At Ten O'Clock

Betsy Vardaman was privileged to be with Professor Vardaman every day, and two of her daily wishes were unchanging:
I wished for a tape recorder every day, and more shelving. Books were stuffed under tables, tipping over from stacks in the corners, and sideways on the tops of volumes lined up neatly in their categories and rows around the room. I've always imagined that one could get smarter, just by breathing deeply the air in there. (And, okay, most of the chats between my husband and me were one-sided. The scholar mused on topics from his childhood and/or across time. I listened and nodded as if fully comprehending all the news "the king" rained down on me.) For example, one morning about a year ago, I brought up Tennyson  because I was going to lead a few sessions at our church on Victorian poetry. Suddenly Jim began to quote "Locksley Hall." (This is a very long poem -- and hauntingly crafted, with lines such as these woven throughout: "Many a night I saw the Pleiades, rising thro' the mellow shade,/ Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.") He recited pages of it . . . not quite all, but almost. I pulled my college English from the shelf and followed along -- truly aghast that he could just access 200+ lines of Tennyson without a year to prepare. He responded, when I asked him when and why he had memorized it, "Well, [my sister] Ann encouraged me to learn poems when I was young. And I liked Tennyson, so I started there."
Life with Professor Vardaman must have been full of surprises. There was always another level to his knowledge.



At 11:54 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

This is quite a hagiography. If there's one thing that comes through loud and clear, it's that she misses him. I'd like to give her a hug.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I think this Remembrance was put together, after his passing, from observations written both before and after he was gone, because this booklet is twelve pages of single-spaced script.

Jeffery Hodges

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