“A Timely Reference”

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Mrs. Bassett Vice-Principal

As a junior in high school, I needed recommendations for college. I had a very incompetent counselor assigned to me whose job it was to write these recommendations. She had been my Latin teacher, and I had once observed her getting up on the desk and doing a mock can-can to a declension of Latin adjectives. Such was our awe of authority, that it occurred to no one to do anything but gawk.

Anyway, she was the one to ask for reference letters. She told me that she would only write one letter and I could choose between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. I didn’t want to go to either college, so she told me she wouldn’t help me. (Maybe I had done a major eye roll at her grammar demonstration. Maybe she was an alcoholic and didn’t like to work.)

To my great relief, Mrs. Bassett, the vice principal, asked me how my applications were going. When I told her my predicament, she promised she would personally write whatever recommendations I needed. In a time when each letter or form had to be individually filled out, this was a gift of her time. Fortunately, in those days, we only applied to three colleges: a safety, a reach and a real reach. Her letter helped get me admitted to my real reach.

Later, she overstepped her helpfulness by asking a senior to invite me to the junior-senior prom since she knew I wasn’t going. When he did, I politely declined, to his great relief I imagine. But I am grateful that she reached out to me both with helpful aid and with unwanted help. I don’t know what she did about that counselor!

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