Sunday, April 01, 2012


Irv Edelman 1944
Coach Edelman's passing last week served as a fresh reminder of how lucky we were to have a number of the “best” of the Greatest Generation as teachers. Many came almost directly from the foxholes of battle to our classrooms.

Irv Edelman was one of them.

"So, I went overseas as a corporal. We fought our way up the coast of New Guinea and made the landing at the Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines"  -Irv Edelman

MacArthur Landing at Lingayan

He must have arrived at Piedmont around 1946. I first saw him in 1949 when I entered the 7th grade. We met for the first time in the fall of the following year when I ran into him in the hall one day and got up enough courage to introduce myself and tell him that I was going to try out for his football team the following year (only 9th graders were eligible.)

Well, son,” he replied, “I sure hope you pick up some weight over the summer. You're awfully thin.”

Those were his exact words. I've never forgotten them. I took it as a warning. I was sure that I wouldn't make the team if I didn't get bigger, like the Coach had asked me to.  And, I wanted to be on the football team more than I'd ever wanted anything up to that time!

Besides, playing the violin and being the drum major of the band wasn't getting me anywhere with the girls. (By the way, I've spent a lifetime trying to buy up all of the existing pictures of me in the Piedmont Jr High School drum major uniform.)

Try as I might, I don't think I gained more than 3 pounds over the summer that year and didn't grow an inch taller.

Although worried that the Coach would think that I had deliberately ignored his request, I went out for the team anyway.

I knew I had made it when he cornered me after practice one day and said,
“ You know, this means that you won't be able to lead the band at halftime.”

That was one of the happiest days of my young life.

Later, when we were both at Central, I was chosen to perform at one concert with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. However I was required to wear a tuxedo...which I didn't have.

The coach found out about it, and loaned me his.

I don't know if teachers do that kind of thing nowadays or not, but I doubt it.

Coach Edelman and I remained friends for the rest of his life. He made a number of business trips to Washington after I had moved up here, and each time he visited Linda and me and later got to know our children.

We've stayed in touch by phone and letter even after his move to Florida . After his stroke a few years ago, his letters continued although he was unable to use his hand and had to dictate them.

Jan Karon and Ed Myers
The last letter I got from him was a reply to my letter telling him of my visit with Jan Karon last summer...and passing on her glowing praise and fond memories of having him as our 9th grade homeroom teacher.

I sent him a picture of Jan and me, taken that day at her mansion in Charlottesville, VA.

This was the Coach's reply, which turned out to be.........the last time I ever heard from him:

I feel like the Coach and I came full circle.

Rest in Peace, Coach!