What I Learned at BC-Charlie Redmond

Blackboard with latin
BC67 band photo
Bethlehem Star news 67 photo
wrestling photo
Charlie biking photo

How to Learn

Latin, 9th grade through 12th: people think it’s weird I studied Latin for 4 years in high school – and btw for 2 more years in college – but I gave them a pass bc they don’t know how beautifully logical a language Latin is. There’s a grammatical structure in Latin that is the basis for most of the major languages outside Asia. And learning Latin is learning history of the Roman Empire. 

Thank you, Mrs. Eddington. You were such a rock of consistency throughout my 3 years with you. I wish the world more teachers like you.

Math, 9th through 11th: we did math at a pretty high level at BC. It took ‘til graduate school at Columbia to go beyond what we were doing. There, I had a course in macroeconomics with an instructor – can’t call him a teacher bc he didn’t do that. It took him from early September ‘til the Monday after Thanksgiving to write a single word of English on the blackboard – until then, every single thought he wrote on the board was in Greek as in Kt+1= (1 – δ) Kt + It. Which of course expresses the change in the value of capital stock over time, given investment and depreciation values. 

Somehow, I got through this course, which I do regard as the pinnacle of my academic career. Despite the C I got. Hey, if you’ve done better at this level, salut!

Thank you, Mr. Symulla and Miss Jzedrewski.

How to Create

Hamagrael, 6th grade: Ms. Sammy Ives. Best teacher I ever had. Recognized and brought out my inherent creativity. I would not be the person I am today – would not have been able to create the things I have throughout my career as a computer systems architect – would not be expressing myself in text, sound, images, video, if it were not for the way Sammie Ives unlocked my mind in 6th grade.

I think of you often, Miss Ives. You changed my life.

Love of Music

Band, 7th grade through 12th: so much a part of my life then and now, both as an appreciator and a player. I learned to play drums at a pretty high level at BC, starting in 7th grade. Junior and Senior years received a 6A rating, the highest possible in state competition, both individually and as member of our band. 

Thank you, Sam Bozzella. I know I gave you a few moments of agita here and there, but you were a great band teacher, leader and mentor. My appreciation and love of music – both listening and playing – grew immensely with you.


7th grade, dance class: to cross the cafeteria floor and ask a girl to dance

8th grade, swim class: to do the back dive

9th grade, some dance or other: to call up a pretty girl and ask her to go with me, having no idea if she would. I called Jenny Howe. She said no but was very nice about it. That’s important to learn as well.

10th grade, hiking Indian Ladder Trail: to cross over that 5 ft section where if you missed a step, you could be tumbling down for a while. This was before the guard rails were put in

11th grade, wrestling team: to quit. Is it ever courageous to quit something? Mostly no, but in this case, yes. I came to that hard decision then and still know now it was the right thing to do. 

One of very few times my life I’ve done that. Dear Coach Nyllis, bless his heart, said “What! You’re supposed to wrestle off Ronny today!” He meant Ronny Beauregard, this kid built out of bricks in my weight class. I had beaten him last time but wasn’t psyched for that again.

That wasn’t the real reason though. I tried to hang in, but after just a week or so living like a normal person during Christmas in Florida, I was just couldn’t do this life anymore.

Our family had just come back from Christmas vacay with close family down in Florida. Where I ate more than one meal a day (gasp! hope Coach Nyllis doesn’t know) and hung out with other teens on the beach. When I got back, I just realized I don’t want to do this. And said so to the coach and then my dad. Not sure either of them got why I quit, bc as a teen I wasn’t the best communicator. But I knew what I didn’t want, despite what I knew were my coach and my dad’s expectations. 

Wrestling is a very tough sport, even in the best of conditions. And wrestling at BC in 65-67 was far from that. Practice each day was 2-3 hours of hard work out and then basically fighting each other. Every day. And then you had to make weight, meaning get your weight to whatever level Coach Nyllis deemed it should be. 

For me, that meant dropping 15 lbs. from my 5’10” 145 lb. growing teenage body by eating maybe one meal a day, regardless of the killer workouts and practices. My mom, never the helicopter type parent, had a problem with that. 

If it had just been the physical demands, I probably could have stuck it out. I liked being super fit, which wrestling will certainly make you. That’s something I gained from the sport and have carried with me all my life. It’s been a huge difference maker in my life, and I am forever grateful for that.

I also liked showing up Coach Nyllis in practice when he would ridicule me by showing him, he was wrong. But I really hated ending up hating the man for what he did after each match: if you won, he would read out some positive comments for your performance. But if you lost, he would berate you in front of the entire team with a core meanness I have never forgotten.

As in, this is what not to do as a coach. I’ll give Coach Nyllis this: he taught me what not to do and be as a coach, which I have taken to heart in coaching teams and people throughout my life.

12th grade, speech class: the subject that day was extemporaneous speech. We were each handed a slip of paper that had a single word on it and were supposed to speak extemporaneously for 5 minutes on that topic.

My slip of paper said “color”. I’m pretty sure the teacher, Don Camp, was looking for something like how wonderfully beautiful the leaves of fall are. But that’s not how I was wired, like many of us in 1967.

I started: “I’m glad I’m not black. I feel lucky I’m not black living here. I can’t imagine how hard life must be, trying to grow up as a black kid in this town.”

The stunned silence around the room was palpable, starting with Mr. Camp. I think he had no idea we would go there. But right after class, kids came up to me and said they agreed, Sally Pearce and Steve Prue in particular.

This is when I began to realize we, the Class of 67, were growing beyond our teachers in what really matters: the courage to speak out.

Who I Am

Hamagrael, 5th grade: Nobody ever got me better than Mr. Franze.

A great moment a few years ago. Happened to be at my mom’s wake, but this is what wakes are good for: getting people together. Mr. and Mrs. Franze showed up, knowing they had taught most of me and my brothers.

Mr. Franze: “Charlie! So great to see you again. Your brothers Graham and Barry stayed around town, but you were gone right after high school! We always wondering how you were doing, what you were up to. You were always so go go go!”

Me: “Mr. Franze!! I’m so glad to see you again. And I have to tell you – remember those big, long report letters you wrote on each of us back then?”

Grace Franze: “It used to take him the whole Christmas vacation to write those!”

Me: “Well, here’s the thing: nobody ever got me – not any other teacher in high school, college, grad school, professionally, like at Apple, ATT, Booz Allen, any of these places … nobody ever nailed me on an evaluation the way you did when you wrote: “Charlie lives for recess!”

Mr. Franze roared with laughter. Like seriously arched back and completely laughed as hard as can be without falling over. This from a teacher who has given his life to kids like me, one year at a time, and more often than not, never sees them again.

I like to think that was a great moment for him. It surely was for me.

One Comment

  1. This is great!!

    BC prepared us for everything, and especially how to voice our opinions

    Thank you, Charlie, for waking up those memories… from Miss Schmidt in 3rd at Elsmere, to the embarrassment of my father having to give school physicals…from 6th grade, attending my first dance with Don Bardole… Mr Feldman and Mrs Adler, showing me that I really can enjoy English, and appreciate reading… learning to love all sports, despite Miss Stafford and those ugly bathing suits… graduation day, and knowing I would miss everything!

    I am so sorry I am unable to attend this reunion. I have had a medically challenging year. Hopefully, I will be able to attend the next one…walking. Until then, take pictures, have fun! I say hi, and send my love to everyone!!


    Nance Austin