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Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

May 8th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Mr. Cromie was one of my teachers during my years at Pequannock Township High School.  He was one of the school’s music teachers.  He led the choir, directed the school musicals and the senior play each year and was an assistant band director.  He was also the voice of the Pequannock Panthers football home games, perched in the press box at the top of the bleachers every Saturday for 47 years.  However, beyond all that, he was more than just a teacher.  Many teachers came and went during the course of my school years.  He, however, changed the course of my life. Literally.

When I moved to Pequannock from Vernon in 1977, he shouted to me one morning after early morning marching band practice, “Hey new guy. What are you doing 2nd period?” I looked at him sideways and said, “study hall.” “Nope. Not any more. You’re going to audition for my choir” he said matter-of-factly. “Not me,” I said. “I don’t sing.”

Apparently, and as usual, he knew better than I did how the script would play out. I ended up in his choir. I sang in three musicals he directed, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Godspell and Oklahoma. With his “encouragement” (“you WILL try out…”) I auditioned for and made regional choir, all-state choir and all-eastern choir. He gave me my most precious memories of those four years of my life. I also remember vividly the day we were smoking at his Christmas party and he told me, “Ed, do as I say, not as I do…don’t smoke.” While I dabbled with cigarettes for years, every time I would light up, I would oddly recall that exchange. I believe it kept me from becoming a regular smoker.

I then went on to college for theater and acted in numerous shows and musicals post-college through today. And now I count many of the people who are my best friends from those I met in all of the endeavors that would never have happened if it weren’t for “Cromie” and that fateful morning exchange.

Even my son came to me through connections I made while doing musical theater.

Cromie, you are one of the true heroes. Especially to me.  Of the three major male role models in my life, only my father occupies the seat above yours.  While I can no longer say this to you in person, I know you are still with us so I want to share the lyrics of a song from the musical, “Wicked.”  They sum up my feelings for you, my former teacher, mentor and friend:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

Like a ship blown from it’s mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

God bless you. And whatever happens from here, I know His face will shine upon you always.

Tags: Public Relations and Communications

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Yvonne Scholle // May 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Beautifully written, Ed. Mr. Cromie is smiling, I’m sure.

  • 2 Ordinary Bob // May 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Very nicely written Ed. I didn’t know Mr. Cromie (even though you and I graduated together), but wish I did.

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