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From, "Reaching God's Perfection...Stories of Gratefulness"

We're All Connected...

In my junior and senior high school years, I took Electricity I and II.   Mr. Schraer was our teacher.  Mr. Schraer was a football coach.  He had fine blond hair, and was in his late twenties, and stood over six foot tall, and weighing about 240lbs.  Just a big young man.

The classes were filled with some nerdy, smart, yet quiet boys.  Unlike the boys in my three years of Wood-working Class.  The boys in Electricity class were super science guys.  They appeared painfully shy.  Being the only girl, that increased my shyness ever moreso. 

I loved understanding mechanics, engines, and the workings of electricity.  My Dad did not want me to take the classes.  For he felt becoming an Electrician was a dangerous job, let alone for a girl.  He truly did not appreciate my taking such male dominated classes.  And he never seemed to understand my interest in such a class.

My plan however, was to gain knowledge about electricity so that in the real world I might be able to hold down a very part-time job with a skill most women at that time didn’t have.  I figured if I could assist an electrician, it might help me pay my way through college after the Marines.  And my goal was to get a Police Science degree and become a NJ State Trooper.  I also knew some police officers had another skill.  I’d been around enough police officers since just before my fourteenth birthday.

I was intimidated in the class at first, because these boys who took electricity, were more science minded, I tried but hadn’t found my niche.  I knew my short-comings and figured if I rubbed elbows with these boys I’d gain needed knowledge.  So during the first three of our four marking periods in Electricity I, Mr. Schraer treated me with such equality like my Wood-working teacher, Mr. Domerski had.  So much, that I felt like I belonged. 

It took me a marking period to speak up in class, and ask the boys for help. Without making them think I wanted a date.  I too was nerdy in my own way, enough to not want to draw attention to myself or seem like I couldn’t grasp the concept(s).  These boys had already tinkered in electricity.  I had no background, just a dream.  I really wanted to know how a television worked.  It was my #1 priority.  That was what made me take the class in the first place.

I wanted to know ‘how can a voice and a picture show up in your living room. What makes this happen?’  I struggled in class.  I got a C+, B-; then received a B in my third marking period.  One day I went in for extra help during my free time.  I met with Mr. Schraer.  I believe it was the report and lecture I was to do on the way the picture on the television arrives.  Mr. Schraer was reviewing those items with me.  It was the first time he’d ever been one on one with me. 

As I showed him the direction I was going in on the project, he stopped me for a moment and looked me straight on. He said, “You know I have to tell you Jody.  I did not know what to expect having you, a girl, in my class among those boys.  However, you really fit in.  The boys like you, and your presence encourages them to really learn in my class.  I didn’t know if you were here for the right reasons.  But I now know you are.  You keep improving.”  I responded, “I just have to understand how a television works.  Because it’s really neat.  Like the picture and everything just shows up.”

For my report, we also had to speak in front of all the Electricity Class Students in the lecture hall and give visual aide as well.  I was petrified.  At the end of the year I received an A in Electricity I, fourth marking period.

That year, Mr. Schraer and the boys in my Electricity Class, Reached God’s Perfection, without initially understanding why a girl desired to take an all male dominated class.  The boys looked at me in such a way to welcome my questions. They would stop what they were doing, and speak kindly to me.  They, so rich with knowledge, and I had no clue.  And they welcomed me as if I was one of them. It was as if they let me know that the knowledge they had, I had too.  They showed me how to tap into science on another level.

Afterword: Towards the end of 1980 after graduating months before from high school I needed to make extra money.  I had just signed the papers to enter the U.S. Marines, yet in the meanwhile I needed to help my Mom and sister monetarily.  I already had a full-time job at a McDonalds. The early morning shift to early afternoon, covering an eight hour workday. 
Yet that was to help Mom with the bills as well paying the mortgage on our home.  I wanted my sister to have a great Christmas.  I wanted to buy her everything I could.  Right next door to the River Edge McDonalds was a little empty lot.  I saw people putting up wood stands and a trailer and asked one of the patrons of McDonalds, ‘what was going on?’  They said, “They do this every year.  They sell Christmas trees there.”  I thanked them.

Then after work, before I ran five miles home with my work clothes in my knapsack, I crossed the corner street and met the man who ran the Christmas Tree selling business.  He was a landscaper.  Funny enough, his name was Mr. Schraer.  I didn’t really pay attention to his name.  I just wanted another job.  He interviewed me on the spot.  He hired me that day.  He sent me home with work the next day when I had a car.  At home I was to put pieces together to attach to grave wreaths. 

That night I told Mom and worked for a few hours at home.  I wanted to impress my new boss.  I came back the next day with a box of the items all pieces he requested together.  He thanked me and told me when to show up again for more work.  The third day I worked there, I was in the trailer putting the items into the wreaths.  As I did so, in walks Mr. Schraer, my Electricity teacher during two years in high school.  I was quite stunned, “You know each other.”  They smile, My boss says, “We’re brothers.” That Christmas was one of the most memorable.  My Mom came by one Saturday afternoon as I worked there. She had to buy a grave wreath for her Godfather, Uncle Emery’s grave.  She’d do this practically every Christmas since he died.  Mr. Schraer gave her the wreath and did not charge Mom. 

 I was able to provide a Christmas tree and presents for my Mom and little sister.  My Mom was astounded at what I bought for them. ---Jody-Lynn Reicher 


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