Trivial Pursuits

Pop quiz: What is the name of the actress who starred in Your Show of Shows and had a memorable supporting role in the movie Vacation?

It was the end of the school year, and my favorite history teacher, Mr. Crane, decided to occupy his ninth-grade class with a trivia game. Knowing we had no more bandwidth for lessons on western civilization, he divided us into two teams and asked his first question.

Little did he know, I was a ringer when it came to trivia. My parents kept several editions of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader in our powder room. This book contained all kinds of trivia and short essays about random things like the origins of Silly Putty. It was so easy to read and addicting that I even read it outside the bathroom walls. (FYI: I was kind of a nerd back then).

In addition to help from Uncle John, my knack for trivia came from our family watching classic 50’s TV shows and  Jeopardy. We watched Jeopardy religiously. Alex Trebek was a god in my house. When one of the science teachers at school prepared to be a Jeopardy contestant, he enlisted our family as part of the training. He became a 5-time champion and even gave us a shoutout on national TV.  That was cool.

Back in history class, I was ready for this moment.

IMOGENE COCA! I yelled out to the class. Mr. Crane looked at me in shock and then gave me a huge grin.

“Very good, Elisa,” he said.

Mr. Crane passed away last month. He had a unique way of connecting with his students and making them feel important. He had a booming voice and a gentle soul. Upon hearing the news, I thought of this moment in time. He was an amazing teacher, and he will be missed.

7 comments on Trivial Pursuits

  1. Frances Cahill
    January 4, 2020 at 9:32 pm (7 months ago)

    Elisa, nerdy is still good in my house! I love Trivia Quizzes! It is so powerful to have good memories of teachers, isn’t it?
    I had a guest spot on Radio ABC (the national broadcaster in OZ) talking about grammar and good writing skills. The host Spencer Howson asked me where my interest/passion started. I was happy to give a shout out to Mrs Ryan my 5th Grade teacher. She instilled in me a love of words, and we parsed sentences and read books and and and…..
    I was thrilled to learn (when she wrote me a note forwarded from the station) that she was retired and listened to the program most mornings and first of all remembered me after 50 years! AND she was glad to have lit the fire for words and such in me. I am smiling again with this memory! Thank you!

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 6, 2020 at 3:02 pm (7 months ago)

      Love that story. That’s amazing. 🙂

  2. Doug
    January 4, 2020 at 10:01 pm (7 months ago)

    When I am travelling I like to play trivia on the cruise ship. We play as teams with up to six players. It is great when the team is made up of people from different countries and life/business backgrounds.

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 6, 2020 at 3:00 pm (7 months ago)

      Doug – maybe I’ve seen you at the trivia games. I’m always first in line for trivia games on a cruise! But, I don’t always do so well. The questions they come up with are either super easy or ridiculously hard. There is no in-between. 🙂

  3. Maureen Durney
    January 5, 2020 at 12:35 am (7 months ago)

    My regular weekly Trivia game restarts tomorrow night and I can’t wait. Alas, I’m not one of the knowledgable ones but we play in teams of four or five, so I can get away with not knowing many of the answers. And if none of us know the answer, I make sure I write down a very ‘lateral-thinking’ response. We don’t play for prizes – just fun – luckily. And since we are all over fifty-five, it’s just a way of keeping the brain-cogs turning for a few more years.
    What a great household you grew up in.
    And I’m sure we all have at least one teacher who reached out and connected with us in some special way. One that we will never forget – I know I did.

    • Elisa Heisman
      January 6, 2020 at 2:59 pm (7 months ago)

      We always skipped the Canadian questions in Trivial Pursuit because no one knew the answers. LOL. And yes, I grew up in a wonderful household and my dad was a teacher — surprise surprise. LOL

  4. Robert Krantweiss
    January 5, 2020 at 1:41 pm (7 months ago)

    Mr. Crane was a wonderful person as well as an excellent teacher. He was very knowledgeable about many subjects. I speak as a teacher who saw him in action outside the classroom,in the faculty room,and at faculty meetings. He was like E.F. Hutton or to paraphrase their ad: When Tom Crane spoke , people listened”. He was wise and insightful. The room went silent because they wanted to hear what his idea on the subject was. It was a sad day when he retired from our district. It’s a sadder day now because he has passed . I appreciate your taking note of him in your blog.
    He was the kind of person that made LIFE WITHOUT A MANUAL easier for others.


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