Monday, January 05, 2009


“Well, there’s Jake!”

And with those three words, the phenomenon that is Senor Doug Bright entered my world. What a trip it has been.

I can’t call him Doug — even after 17 years. I can’t call him Mr. Bright. Just doesn’t fit. No, he will forever be Senor.

What a fun teacher. Senor could take Spanish and make you enjoy it. You’d put up with all the vocabulary words and all the homework just to see him do the “Truffle Shuffle.” (I am not going to bother explaining that one; it will have to remain an inside joke to those “in the know.”)

You loved singing Christmas carols in Spanish. You loved the fun homework assignments. The late, great Josh Ellis and I put on our version of the “David Letterman Show” for our “commercial” video — he as the acerbic late night host; me as the musical guest, Elvis Presley. (Yes, Senor even made me sing “See See Rider” in Spanish!)

I saw him lose his temper twice. It was enough to never want to see it again.

But he was funny, and fun loving, the biggest Vol fan I know, in so many ways the best teacher I ever had.

Speaking of the Vols, I have to tell you about Senor’s Vol Van. Halls High kids of a certain age will remember that his original van came equipped with a music machine that blared “Rocky Top” and other tunes. His son, Neylan, almost set this off during Josh Ellis’s funeral procession in June 1995. It made us laugh right when we needed it.

Senor took us to Memories Theater a couple of times to see the Elvis show – me, Drew Weaver, Dean Harned and Dewayne “Plab” Lawson. We’d go over to his house from time to time. Heck, a teacher probably can’t even do that anymore.

We kept in touch, even after I graduated and Senor moved on to Webb School. I watched his kids on Valentine’s Day one year so he and Peggy could enjoy the night out. We’ve taken in a half-dozen UT games together and watched just as many on TV.

Getting together to eat pizza and watch football last Friday night, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I had been to find Senor waiting during that Spanish II class years ago.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I tested out of an entire year of Spanish at UT — only had to take the last two semesters. I can promise you it wasn’t anything I did.

That credit, too, belongs to Senor.


Anonymous Haven Williams Smith said...

My favorite Senor moment - the Hammer Dream story :) I loved that class, and I too tested out of 1 year of spanish and ended up with a major in it. He truly is a very special teacher. I was in the press box at UT a couple of years ago and hear "Ciela?" I thought OMG only a few people have ever called me that and there he was :)

4:52 PM  

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