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Frank Shivers made English class memorable | READER COMMENTARY

Frank R. Shivers, Jr. (Handout/Baltimore Sun).
Frank R. Shivers, Jr. (Handout/Baltimore Sun). (File photo/The Baltimore Sun)

The recent obituary for Frank R. Shivers Jr. in The Baltimore Sun undoubtedly has set off loving reminiscences about this wonderful teacher, mentor, historian and friend (”Frank R. Shivers Jr., longtime Bolton Hill educator, writer and regional historian, dies,” Oct. 10). Here I will mention of a few of mine.

Mr. Shivers (of course, we hardly thought of him as “Frank”) was my English teacher at Friends School during my junior and senior years when I was 15 and 16 years old. Arithmetic assures me that he was only 29 or 30 at the time. He seemed as ageless then as he was in his advanced years. I only knew that he was amazing — witty, brilliant, understanding well how to deal with students like me who were still in their academic and physical awkward stage.

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Deftly, in my senior year, he changed my life forever by suggesting I write a senior research paper on Gertrude Stein. That paper is one of the main reasons I opted to major in English in college, to follow the same path into graduate school and to start, in 1961 at age 22, my lifelong career teaching English. Frank Shivers’ example was always in my mind and heart.

Many decades later, during the decade when I chaired the English Department at Towson University, I was able to hire him (by then he had retired from full-time teaching) to fill an adjunct position. In that role, he earned the loving admiration of faculty and students alike. I’m sure he changed a lot of lives during his time at Towson, too.

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His work as a Baltimore historian, author and walking tour guide included his beloved Bolton Hill area. But my most delightful memories of that area are the parties he and his wonderful wife Lottchen gave at their home there for his students. On one occasion, we were to come dressed as a character from English literature. There were quite a few girls who wore the scarlet letter A on their dresses and several Ophelias. I think I came as Lady Macbeth. But as hostess, Lottie opted for the current Queen of England, right down to the iconic white pumps.

And thus Frank and Lottie taught us by example what a good marriage can be.

Thank you, Mr. Shivers. And thank you, Lottie.

Clarinda Harriss, Baltimore

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