Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I graduated from high school in 1975, not with honors, most likely, though I have to say really the whole high school experience for me was not that great, so blocking it out has not been all that difficult. Well, I could block it all out except for my "gang", The BB Gang, which consisted of five girls who would hang out in the bathroom between classes and laugh our asses off at probably nothing. We also spent every waking moment together on weekends and in the summer, driving around and around Fairfield, the little spot of the earth we lived on. That was memorable. And Tom Ulrich's classes, which gave me at least some sort of direction. He didn't care that I couldn't keep my mouth shut in class, all he cared about was that I really, really loved biology classes.

To this day it is a little hard for me to not say, "Hi, Mr. Ulrich!" when I see him, though the difference in age is much less noticeable now. He seemed like an older man when he was teaching high school, and I was such a kid. I really probably made his life pretty miserable, but in defense of myself, as an adult, I was diagnosed with ADD, so there, Mr. Ulrich!

I do understand that ADD just means I'm distractable and creative, and boy could I ever create ways to get out of school! Until Tom Ulrich showed up. Then I looked forward to going, at least for that part of the day.

Not only did Tom bring a kid a much-needed diversion from school while being IN school, he had unconventional-for-the-time teaching methods that nowadays would never be tolerated. And what a shame because did we ever learn! My career as a medical transcriptionist I almost totally credit him with since he had me in all sorts of medical lab classes where we were actually prepared for something. All of my terminology knowledge and understanding of the importance of species and genus names came from him. We even dissected a shark once. There are students in every class like this, I'm sure, but Tom got called to the office for something, and okay, probably something I did, I'll admit it, and he said, "Do NOT touch the mouth of that shark while I'm gone!" So one of the boys inserted his thumb into the throat and started pretending he was being eaten. Of course, a shark's teeth point backward, so when the teacher returned, he tried extracting his thumb from the mouth and ripped it pretty much to shreds...(his thumb, not the shark). Then Tom tried ripping the kid to shreds and it was pretty ugly. :)

Anyway, a few years back Don and I visited Montana, and when we got to Glacier National Park, I called Tom since he lives there now, and we had an awesome time! We met for pizza then went out canoeing on a stream and saw so much wildlife. It was one of the most memorable times I ever had. And you could not ask for a better tour guide. Tom not only lives there, he inhabits there. He is a professional wildlife photographer, and you have, probably without a doubt, seen his work somewhere.

After I left Fairfield High School, I guess Tom just could not stand not seeing my face in classes, so he pursued his REAL dream...photographing the world he loves so much and making a living from it.

I have been fortunate enough to see a couple of his shows in the past several years, and last night Tracy and I loaded up Myrtle, the Ford Focus, and took off for Wabash Valley College, about an hour away, after she saw an article describing his latest, and greatest, and final of the year, show. And it was way beyond worth the hour it took us to get there. We were both fascinated with the stories and the photos and had time to visit with him after the program.

Here's a link to his website. You can do everything here from looking at his photos to signing up for a guided photography trip to Ecuador! THAT'S hopefully in my future at some point...after I retire and can afford it.


At the top is a picture of Tom and me. He looks the same, except his hair used to be red, and I look the same except I used to weigh 90 pounds. :-)

Please browse Tom Ulrich's website and check out some of his photos. I think everyone will be as amazed as I am by those, and I say that without the slightest bit of prejudice!

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