52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #4: Education

For this week I am going to talk about my favorite teacher for the Education theme. His name was Leon Muster, and he was my 7th Grade Geography/Ohio History teacher.

Taken from the 1985-1986 Roberts Warriors Yearbook from Roberts Middle School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

The odd thing about Mr. Muster Muster was that people either loved him or hated him. My sister’s friend HATED him with such a passion because she thought he was so mean. When I came home going on and on about what a wonderful teacher he was, my parents were quite confused. How could this be the same person? I think the same all the time.

Mr. Muster made history class fun. He always had us playing games in teams or other fun ways to help us learn whether it was in the Geography portion of the class (which was the first 2/3’s of the year) or Ohio History (the last 1/3 of the year).

An example of this “fun” was how he brought in a canon he called “Old Betsy” after the canon that played a key role in the War of 1812 at Fort Stephenson. The canon shot caps and he would often “shoot it” in class to keep us on our toes. One day I decided to bring in a canon of my own, as I had one amongst my dad’s toys at my Grandma’s house. Mr. Muster was quite surprised, and I told him my canon’s name was “Victory” as it was embossed on the side of the small metal canon. So he decided to find out what his canon said in the same spot, only to find it just said “Made in Taiwan”.

In the Geography portion of class, we had an Africa test. We all pulled a number out of a hat and it corresponded with a test. The test consisted of going up to a large map of Africa and pointing out places of interest. The key was to be prepared for anything. There was 1 really easy test, and 1 really hard test, and everything else was just a mix of everything. I don’t remember my number but I know I had the easiest test. My places to point out were: the Nile River, Zaire, Egypt, the Sahara Desert, and South Africa, the five most obvious things on the map in 1985-86. I always felt bad as my friend, Pam, had the hardest test. As time went on I always wondered if I truly picked the easy test at random, or if Mr. Muster gave me the easy test.

Going back to Ohio History, we had a project we had to complete on the Ohio Canals. I left my textbook at school when I needed to finish it up. I lucked out that my parents took my sister and I to Gnadenhuten and Schoenbrunn that weekend and I was able to convince my dad in buying me a pamphlet on canals which helped me finish my project and get it turned in on time. I remember confessing my luck to Mr. Muster and he smiled. Ingenuity at it’s best. I still have that pamphlet somewhere.

Mr. Muster would often tease my aforementioned friend because she was Polish. He was too, and they’d go at it. Where Pam enjoyed the challenge, her younger sister disliked Mr. Muster. Funny how people are different.

When I took the final exam for Ohio History I was curious what my grade was. Mr. Muster’s son graduated from high school that year which was the same year as my sister. Their graduation was at the Richfield Coliseum and somehow I found Mr. Muster and asked him what my grade was. I missed 4, still an A but I wanted perfection (I think I wanted him to be as proud of me as my parents). He was also impressed I found him amongst a huge crowd in an even bigger venue (it is where the Cleveland Cavaliers used to play).

I went back and visited Mr. Muster throughout 8th grade and would do my best to visit every month or so when I went to high school. He always remembered me and loved that I was so fascinated with history.

Leon Muster passed away in 2009. Along with being a teacher he helped coach the football and wrestling teams and was a postal worker in the summer.

He refused to sign my yearbook in 7th grade but I convinced him to sign it in 8th grade. He wrote exactly what I said… “I don’t care, whatever you want to write just something. Remember me. L. Muster”. He added the “remember me” part.

Photo of Mr. Muster’s signing of my 8th grade yearbook.

I wonder if he ever thought 37 years later a student would write a blog post about him. I’d say he is definitely remembered (and I even found his spot at the Oakwood Cemetery next to the high school this past summer, then oddly found myself saying hello when I’d take a walk while my son practiced each Thursday evening at Marching Band practice).

He was a one-of-a-kind teacher whom I’ll never forget.

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