Kris and Sue's Big Adventures: Mr. Christie's Chemistry Class
Senior year through the whimsy of "computer" scheduling, Kris Olson and I, like generations of earlier W-L-ites, were placed in Mr. Christie's Chemistry class. Since Kris and I had friendly ties dating back to the early elementary school, we chose to be lab partners. It was a match ordained by ...oh, I don’t know, Mad Magazine?
On our first foray into the chemistry lab, met with immediate difficulties. The lab book said, “Light the Bunson burner.” It seemed easy enough: Turn on the Bunson burner, strike a match and poof, it’s done! Well, I knew I was impaired in the match-lighting area, so Kris gave it the first try… Half a match book later, I knew it was time for me to step up. But my efforts met with a similar fate. As our classmates were working their way through the lab experiment, Kris and I remained flameless!
We finally decided to summon Mr. Christie for help and the ever-smiling, ever-patient, sainted teacher/preacher, came over to our station, listened to our dilemma and stepped in to help. Unfortunately, his lit match was met with a sizable fireball and mini explosion… Seems Kris and I .left the Bunson burner on throughout our lengthy efforts, turning it off only before Mr. C arrived at our lab station. With that, we certainly earned a place in Mr. Christie’s heart and undoubtedly, his prayers, as well.
More adventures followed. We learned of the explosive nature of hydrogen mixed with oxygen when I directed a burning splint into a test tube that Kris had pointed up my arm. It was only a small explosion, but the puff of air that went up my sweater sleeve resulted in a temporary loss of forearm hair. (“You didn’t want a hairy arm anyway, did you, Sue?” Mr. Christie responded.)
We later learned that even a mild acid solution dissolves nylon, when I inadvertently spilled the test tube contents of an experiment down Kris’s leg. Her hose immediately disappeared in the spots where the acid splashed and our attempts to wash her leg in the very high lab sink led to awkward postures. Mr. Christie excused us both to the Girls Room to be sure the acid was gone.
…Then there was the ongoing adventure of cleaning up, where, with a front row lab station, we invariable showered the back row of the classroom with our late and hurried efforts to beat the bell. (Something was wrong with that faucet!)
Chemistry class was a great adventure. Despite it all our problems, Mr. Christie remained in teaching for years to come. Washington Lee High School stood until it met with a wrecker’s ball just a few years ago. Kris Olson and Susan Donaldson came to share that indelible bond formed by those with shared trials … and never entered a chemistry lab again!