Recently I received an out of the blue request. Someone doing research on a gentleman wanted to know if I had a Playbill from the 1963 production of Unto These Hills. I had spent a summer in Cherokee, NC, playing the heroine of this outdoor drama. It is an epic historical representation of the persecution of the Cherokee Indians under President Andrew Jackson. The play tells the tragic tale of what has been called, "the trail of tears" when thousands of the Cherokee died on the long walk from North Carolina to Oklahoma.
After a few hours of rummaging in our storage loft and battling lots of cobwebs I located a cardboard box containing memorabilia from my past. I found the program from Unto These Hills, but it turns out I was in the cast in 1964 and not 1963. This was a disappointment to the researcher who started all this. Finding the scrapbook with this program led to a treasure trove of memories. The box included scrapbooks of faded theatrical reviews from the 1960's and photographs of me in all manner of costumes. Perhaps someday I'll make a montage of these images. My acting days were interesting times albeit distant now.
Tucked into a corner of this box was a file folder titled "Mash Notes". Who here knows what a "mash note" is? According to Merriam-Webste Onliner: mash note Function: noun Date: 1890 "a usually sentimental or effusive note or letter expressing affection for the recipient."
During the years of my teaching life I kept a file folder in my bulky metal file cabinet in the office titled: Mash Notes. I recommend, by the way, they you start such a folder. In it file away thank you letters and notes received over the years. Include also letters that say kind and encouraging things about what you have done, etc.
And, then, every ten years of so, OR when you are having a day when you are feeling "less than" . . . pull out the folder and read these notes. Reading aloud is also a nice touch. I think we all long for appreciation, to be recognized, to be loved and admired. Of course we do. And, no matter how much we are praised, it may never seem enough. So, my advice is SAVE your MASH NOTES!
And you might even want to laminate the really good ones and make them into bookmarks. This reminds me I must show off my laminator machine as one of the tools of everyday life.
The photograph is a pile of a few of the letters I've received as a teacher. I treasure these. A teacher's life has meaning if her students found value in the classroom. And how do we know this? From time to time a thoughtful, kind student stops and writes a note of thanks and leaves in on the office desk or better yet mails it.
What teacher changed your life? You may be able to track them down these days with Facebook and all. Find that address and write a mash note. Make someone's day.