Where I am going is to the fact that controversial or not, Jerry knew his English grammar, and he was ruthless in his teaching of it. He also taught “back in the day” when parents didn’t challenge every subpar grade and when his red pen was indeed the king.
Enter I into his sophomore English class…with my nose a little in the air you understand because I was the writer of the class…I was the A+ queen of the essay. Anything else was just unacceptable, of course! And, the year in English (Don’t ask me about math!) went pretty much as had all of my English classes, including my writing grades.
One day Jerry, who was Mr. Hulsey back then, made a very, very easy assignment. We were to write a story, a mystery story that I should have been able to write without even thinking about it. In fact, I suppose I did write it without thinking, and I thought I had written a masterpiece; I truly did!
Now, fast forward a couple of days to the day when Mr. Hulsey put those stories back on our desks and imagine with me if you will my surprise, my shock, my complete horror when I saw a Great….Big….Huge…Red…F on the top of my story. AN F!!!
“Mr. Hulsey, how can I have an F?”
“What is the automatic grade on a paper that contains a fragment?”
“An F, but I didn’t write a fragment!”
“I think you’d better read that again.”
Now, before I go any farther, I have to tell you that this was obviously one of the best lessons any teacher ever taught me in all of my years of education because I have never forgotten the exact words I wrote, the words I had believed were so perfect.
“At last she had it. The perfect solution!”
And, sure enough, there was the glaring, awful fragment that bought me my first and only F I was ever to earn.
Today, I think of Jerry Hulsey every single time I break the rules of grammar as he called them, and I break them continuously on this website. In fact, there is a fragment in this very article, and….I like it, by golly! But I do understand Mr. Hulsey’s theory that “one must know the rules before he is allowed to break them.”
So…Mr. Husley…I do remember every single rule you ever taught…even if I do choose to break them today. I will say though that even I don’t quite have the nerve to end a sentence with a preposition, not quite yet, anyway!
P.S. Just in case you are wondering, I still believe that within the context of a mystery story my fragment sounded pretty perfect! LOL