My dad, Augustine, was born in Tucson in 1912. He attended school there for the first few years of his education. Once, after doing the math, I asked my dad why he graduated from Nogales High School a little older than most. His answer was: “There was a time that I didn’t go to school.”
Due to the Influenza of 1918, Tucson closed its churches, motion picture houses, private and public schools and poolrooms. My family might owe their very existence to the foresight of Tucson’s leaders from that time.
My paternal grandparents, Gustavus and María, returned to Nogales when my dad was almost 10. My dad, his brothers Randolph Leigh and Frank, and sister Socorro did well in the Nogales educational system. And they all lived to be great-grandparents.
In high school, my dad lettered in all four sports all four years. He then went on to ASU on a football scholarship. In 1968, my Nogales High School football coach, Bill Stovall, asked me if I knew that my dad held the local high school high jump record for the last 35 years. It was a surprise to me, and I felt proud. I hold great memories of how honored my dad was when he was inducted into the Nogales High School Hall of Fame.
I’m a retired schoolteacher and, like most of you, I know the crucial role schools play in everyone’s lives. I am in agreement that we should strive to open our schools, but only when safe. Unfortunately, with the current conditions in Arizona, I would think twice before sending any family member back to school next month.
Too many lives have already been altered by this pandemic. The prudence our elected leaders proceed with today will determine the future of multitudes, young and old, just like it did for my family a century ago.
Daniel Rivera Ashford