Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Janet Nussbaum

Lessons of a teacher and poet continue to ring true

ST. PETERSBURG — Janet Nussbaum, a retired English teacher and poet, died in St. Petersburg Friday after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. She was 84.

For five years, she wrote for the St. Petersburg Times' "My View" column, sharing little bits of herself — thoughts, memories, small hopes for the world.

She came from modest beginnings that shaped her thinking.

I had a very privileged childhood: We were poor. … Mother baked every Saturday, and we went to the public library, where books were free.

She taught junior high students, whom she loved through their rowdiness. She called their bluff by dressing like a witch at Halloween.

It would be good to hear about teens who succeed; they are legion, but perhaps not as absorbing reading as teenage pregnancy, teen crime rampages.

She imparted high standards on her three children. She reveled in family time and playfulness.

On long trips, their arguments about space that had been invaded or toys not shared made the miles longer. The car didn't interest them until we put one child in the trunk. … It became the best game of all, and they still chuckle over the conversations they had between the back seat and the trunk.

She wanted us to lighten up.

I'd like all us Floridians to laugh at ourselves. … There is a magic and enchantment to Florida. … Instead of Barney, we could use a cuddly alligator who sings merry sunshine songs.

She helped people carry groceries or let them cut in the checkout line.

We might cause a miracle if each of us would try one act of kindness per week!

She was a proud liberal and a champion for women's rights. During segregation, she invited black friends into her home.

The fern shoots continue to press upward, and I, with other concerned Americans, must eradicate the roots. We need to work for better schooling, better housing and education for all of us to understand where the tentacles of our prejudices are reaching.

She loved healthy competition. She and her husband Leo played Scrabble before dinner. On their 66th wedding anniversary last year, their win record was tied.

We have to be taught that we are not always going to win or come in first. … Second-best is good training for living.

She longed for positivity.

We know there is so much hatred in the world. We all have our own experiences that encourage us to take on causes. Let's try for the greater good for the greater number of our citizens.

She always had more to do.

My "around-to-it" list hasn't shortened. One of these days I'll review my schoolgirl French, I'll finish the thread-count P.J. Moss picture, I'll really finish Remembrance of Things Past, I'll write Sen. Dole another letter …

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

.Biography

Janet Nussbaum

Born: March 26, 1924.

Died: Jan. 30, 2009.

Survivors: husband, Leo Nussbaum; children, Felicity Nussbaum, Luther Nussbaum, Margaret Cooley; sister, Dorothy Birchfield; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren.

Lessons of a teacher and poet continue to ring true 02/02/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 9:58am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'

    Blogs

    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco

    Accidents

    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

    Blogs

    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]