I have this wonderful memory of being in Thomas Brethauer’s public speaking class with George. I believe I was a junior.
One afternoon Mr. Brethauer was lecturing and writing important information on the blackboard. My desk was just a bit to the rear of George’s, and one day I noticed that he was telling a story to a few of the guys sitting near him.
As I looked around the room there were several small discussions going on between classmates; very few were taking notes. Mr. Brethauer continued writing on the blackboard.
All of a sudden he turned around to make an important point, and as he swung his arm out in front of himself, he knocked his glass of water on the papers that occupied his desk.
I think everyone in the room except George witnessed the accident, and everybody but him got quiet. My desk wasn’t close enough to have heard the entirety of his story, but I did hear the next three words that he said after the room went silent: “Well damn it.”
Mr. Brethauer looked at George, and George’s attention was focused on the front of the class. What George said next was amazing. As he quickly took in the view of Mr. Brethauer and the spilled glass, his quick thinking showed up.
George shouted, “No. No. I mean damn up the water so it doesn’t ruin any of your papers!” The class broke into wild laughter, and we were shocked at the speed George was able to expound a logical explanation for his outburst. Mr. Brethauer leveled his eyes at the class, and we froze into silence.
Unfortunately for George, he didn’t notice the bad eye from Mr. Brethauer. At the exact time that the room fell silent, George was explaining things to his buddies about his quick thinking, but what we all heard from him was, “Hell, I didn’t notice that he knocked over that water at first.”
Mr. Brethauer gracefully swung his arm, without striking anything, toward the door and said, “George, OUT! …To the office ... NOW!”
I have little memory of any other students that were in the class, but I bet that several of them could have written about this.
George was a great guy, and he is going to be missed.
Oh yeah. He and I shared Aug. 5 as our birth dates. Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.