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.