Re: Gene Bagnasco RIP

06/10/16 - posted by candis smyk hurlbut

Thank you for posting this.

I remember Mr. Bagnasco, the boys' PE teacher, as a pleasant man, of about average height, who was well liked. After reading the Giannini horror stories a while back, he would appear to be far more than just "pleasant" to those who suffered thru shower checks at Giannini. It is hard to believe (since anyone over 18 was older to kids who hadn't had a two digit age for very long) that he was rather young when he worked at Hoover! Hoover opened for the spring term in 1956, which meant he was still *only* approximately 23/24 when he began his career there. It is also hard to believe that the opening of Hoover as a "new" school happened 60 years ago!

I remember how Gene and Fran began! I was at Lowell by then, and thus missed out on some breaking news/juicy gossip; a younger friend (who probably had one of those crushes adolescent girls have on *older men*) kept me somewhat informed. A new girls' PE teacher started working there, and soon Ms.______ (I can't remember her last name, and didn't know her first name until this post)and Mr. Bagnasco appeared to be "interested," and then became engaged. Since the future Mrs. B. was new, young, and trying to prove herself (a familiar story; new teachers are in need of experience to relax and feel confident), the girls were less than interested in beginning a fan club. The one good point, according to my friend, was married couples (and probably most outed single couples of either sex) were not allowed to work at the same school, so she would no longer be around to torment the girls who hated her even more. Otherwise, it was a disaster; that nice man was going to be married to that--well, let's stop here. It obviously was a good idea, the marriage lasted, and after all, they had plenty in common just to start. It is so good to read that, in today's in, out, gone, often before the wedding gifts are even acknowledged, marriages, that the supposedly (according to the 11 thru 16 year old relationship experts) failure destined marriage was just right.

The Hoover PE teachers were "nice." The women weren't as horrible, and the men didn't seem to have to prove they were *real* men. Another boys' PE teacher, head of the department, was Mr. Murray, who was a small man. There was another teacher who was almost tall, who I seem to remember was of Mexican ancestry. There was another who was tall; I'm not sure if there was a fifth teacher--the misty fog which surrounded the school most of the time is also influencing my brain. Even when they yelled, they appeared to want to have immediate attention, not so much to terrify. I used to see Mr. Murray in Ref's stripes, on the football fields when I was at Lowell football games, and wonder what he was doing there. (I never wandered down and asked after the games--now I realize he probably needed the extra $$$$.) I guess the PE teachers understood kids at the beginning of adolescence better than I realized back then.

One more memory: Some students, for one reason or several, were not any good at all at PE. I was one of them. (As it turned out, I did have an minor disability which was not noticed back then, which seriously affected my coordination. Since I had 20/20 vision, and no obvious health issues, it was assumed I "didn't care;" "didn't even try," and was a "goof off.") I realize now the Hoover PE teachers were genuinely concerned about those who did not meet minimum standards. Most PE teachers were the champion jocks who excelled, and were annoyed by those who just couldn't meet minimum standards. That patience and kindness was unusual then, and unusual now. I think it was Mr. Bagnasco who took one small boy aside (I noticed this as I participated in my class; everyone was outside for PE classes on a nice day)and patiently worked with him to throw and catch a baseball. He never yelled or laughed, he just kept reviewing and advising. In other words, he taught, and did more than just the minimum his job required. This memory bubbled up to remind me he was a true teacher.

Most of My Hoover memories were less than happy--remember, even tho I was not a true scholar, I jumped at the opportunity to transfer to Lowell early. However, I realize now that the Hoover PE Department was an exceptional experience.

As I have mentioned, my late husband, Roy, fought Parkinsons for many years. Keeping active and exercising regularly keeps the disease from advancing as much for many years. I'm sure Gene's continuing to push himself to exercise, do more, never give up, allowed him to not only live longer, but to do more longer. (That attitude kept both of them alive much longer than expected I am sure.) Parkinsons is a sneaky disease, and keeps chipping away. The resolve to never give in/up is most important, and 28 years of living with Parkinsons proves Gene an exceptional warrior.

Gene Bagnasco: Thank you for your continued motivation!

Fran: I'm glad the two of you were so happy for so many years--my sympathy to you and your family.

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