Advisor’s note: ECHO campers were asked to interview family members or friends and to write brief profiles.
Junior journalist interviews grandfather
Robert Lewis was born in Michigan 1944 to Betty and Lynox Lewis. His dad got a degree in agriculture from Mississippi State. After that, Lynox Lewis moved to Chicago where he met Betty Perry. She worked in settlement homes.
They were married. Then they had his sister. In 1944 they moved to Michigan and that is where my grandpa was born. In 1948 they moved to Mexico. The first house he remembered was made out of adobe. They had no electricity, no running water, one bathroom and kerosene lamps.
My Grandpa loved to read because there was no radio and no TV. He read a book on Louis Pasteur. This is partly why he became a doctor. Reading helped make him a better student. He now lives in St Louis. He is retired and has seven grandchildren.
Father teaches Spanish through Peace Corps
My dad ( Mike Alexander) is 45 years old. Earlier in his life he worked at the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer agency. He went from 1992-1994. My dad said, “ I wanted to go to Paraguay so I could travel, help people, and to spend some time out of the house.”
My dad went to Paraguay to teach Pre-K kids Spanish as his two-and-a-half years of working at the Peace Corps. My dad said, “Teaching Spanish to little kids is not very difficult.” My dad worked with some people because they were his colleagues.
To work at the Peace Corps you have to apply for the job. After you apply for the job, someone goes and looks to see if you’re good enough for one of the Peace Corps jobs.
Alex Espy shares his love of theater
Resident of Kansas City Alex Espy has always loved theater.
Espy’s love of theater started in the 1980s when he was about 12. “Twenty-five long years ago!” says Espy. In those 25 years Espy has been in a lot of plays but not all of them. Espy has always wanted to be in a musical. “I’d try out, but I have such a bad voice they would not take me, but if I were to try out for a musical it would have to be “Shrek.” The part of Lord Farquad sounds really fun!” Espy said.
Even though Lord Farquad is Espy’s dream part, he has had a lot of other fun roles, like a clown in a clown show. Espy likes this part because he thought it related to him a lot. Espy is a silly, curious man, who loves to play! In a production of “Sideways Stories from Wayside School,” he got to use all these things as the character Myron.
But Espy is not always on the stage. Other than acting, Espy enjoys directing, writing, producing, designing sets and props, and making the occasional puppet. Espy loves all these things, but if he had to choose one, he would definitely chose to design and build for plays. Recently Espy got to do some of his favorite things while doing the props for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at the Coterie Theater in Kansas City.
Not only does Espy love making props and sets, he has written a few plays himself. One in particular he wrote with a friend in 1998 at the age of 21. His play, “Penelope Blues,” was about a bunch of kids putting on a play. The main character does not get the part she wants, and will do anything to get it.
Espy loves acting, directing, writing, producing, designing sets and props, and even making puppets. He also has advice for young actors and actresses. Espy says, “To be a good actor or actress, you have to always work on your acting. You have to understand that it’s not easy. You have to get used to getting rejected. Even if you do, keep on trying.”
My Interview with Mom
My mom Kate Northcott is a college teacher at Webster University. She trains her students to go out and tutor kids in reading. My mom has always liked working with kids and almost all of her jobs included working with kids. One of the reasons that she loves kids so much is that she is the oldest of six she also loves reading so training her tutors to help people read is pretty much a dream job.
If she wasn’t a college teacher, she might work at the children’s hospital because she once volunteered there and found it to be rewarding and interesting.
She has a lot of good childhood memories, but some of the best are family vacations, Christmas and welcoming a new baby into the family. (She did that a lot.)
Even though my mom grew up in St. Louis, she hasn’t always lived here. She’s lived in Boston, Kentucky and Virginia. In Virginia she had a job helping Navy families. In the Navy she got to jump out of a helicopter and fire a gun off the boat. When she jumped out of the helicopter, she said it was “surprisingly peaceful – I was lowered out of the helicopter hanging from a cable to a ship below. I knew that there was a ship below me because I’d just seen it. I knew there was a helicopter above me because I’d just been in it, but because of all the protective gear, I was unable to look up or down. All I could see was the ocean and the sky. It felt like I was floating in space.”
My mom has had many other jobs, but the job she has now is the one that feels right for her.
Leslie Hedenberg speaks of teaching career
Leslie Hedenberg is the owner of an online Etsy shop, is a mother to four children, and teacher at a preschool. Leslie keeps busy teaching her kids.
Teaching is Leslie passion and she has taught at several preschools, has babysat, worked at an elementary school and, of course, teaches her children. She has always loved teaching and had wanted to be a teacher a long time before she even passed elementary school- when she was a kid, she and neighbors played school and she was the teacher.
Soon she will be claiming a post at Webster Hills preschool; the things she is looking forward to most after her nine-year break are having coworkers again. “It’s fun to work with other adults,” she says and also just getting to teach again.
Hedenberg has been a teacher previously. She acquired her masters degree in teaching at Webster University. Her favorite things about teaching are when a kid walks in at the beginning of the year struggling and after a year of hard work walks out thriving. “Hard work makes it rewarding. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be meaningful,” she says. She loves getting to know her class and their families and watching them progress.
Photographer discusses his craft
Oliver Clark is a young man who lives in the loop. Clark is an active photographer.
At 23 years old, he is taking photos of interesting things he sees on the streets. I interviewed Oliver about his experiences in photography and some things that got him interested. Overall, Oliver answered my questions accurately and precisely.
When Oliver was very young, he would read many National Geographics. He would think to himself, “I want to be like that!” when he looked at the photographs in the magazines. Clark says, “I got my first camera when I was probably nine or ten. I bought my first digital camera for $70 when I was in sixth grade for a video class at Priory.” Clark’s most influencing photographer is Ansel Adams, a man who was hired by the president to take photographs of the national parks. “Because of him, so many of the national parks survived!” Clark said.
Oliver’s favorite photo that he has ever taken was also his scariest experience! He took it on the top floor of an old abandoned hospital! The floor was rotting everywhere, and paint was peeling on the walls! “… the floor that led to the room had so many holes in it. I had to take my Leatherman and unscrew a door to lay on the ground to walk over the floor!” he told me.
Oliver also lived in Wisconsin for more than four years in the wilderness tracking fish and other animals.
When I asked if that experience affected his photography, he said ,”I saw so many beautiful sights, and I
wanted to share that with my family at home. It showed me there could be so many more beautiful things
in the world than I ever thought there could be, and I know, that someday, that will be gone, and it’s cool
that I got to see that.”
Oliver’s dream job would be to travel the world as a photographer and take photos of people that need help, and then use those photos, to try and get help for them.
Clark explained his love of photography in seven words: “The Whole World As I See It.”
My dad going to Steger
One of the things Randall. Curtis did as a kid or teenager was go to school. He went to Steger which is now a sixth grade school above Webster Groves Elementary Computer School.
My dad Randall (better known Randy) went to Steger for seventh and eighth grade; it was a junior high then. It was a stream of four schools, Hudson, Bristol, Schall and Warson Woods. My dad went to Steger fall of 1975 to spring of 1977.
Math was two types of math Extreme and Ordinary. “I was in ordinary. It was a waste of time.” “Too easy.” “All review.” Eighth grade was algebra. Forty-seven years later, I was in his algebra room doing kindergarten.
In seventh grade biology or science, Curtis got to dissect a worm and a frog. “I did not wear gloves; nobody did.” “I enjoyed that each subject was a different teacher.”
This was also the then 12-year-old had language. “I did NOT like my French teacher.” Curtis kept with French because his friends were in French and his sister was in Spanish.
Curtis remembered all the reports. “I really didn’t like it.” He also lived close to his teacher which was spooky and creepy. In eighth grade, though, the 13-year-old did commercials. “I think it was for Dr. Smith’s mint flavored roll-on mouth wash.”
Everyone took art, home ec. and shop during one quarter of the year. Home ec. was cooking and sewing. Boys liked the cooking because you got to eat what you made. Last quarter you picked what you did. Curtis did shop, which is woodworking and hardware items. The Steger mascot then was the Steger Warriors. “I had a pencil that said, ‘Steger Warriors.’”
“I walked to school just like everybody else.” When my dad was at junior high, a gas shortage was going on, which I guess is why most people walked. A normal day went similar to this. Get ready for school, get buddy, walk to school, go the back way, four classes in the morning, lunch and recess (back to back) basketball or exploring (sledding in winter),three more classes, and finally walk home.
In seventh grade Curtis had to read “Johnny Tremain” and in eighth “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Those were the only two he could remember. He also had school dances in the gym. The art room was the boy locker room while the music and orchestra room was the girls. His best experience was making new friends. His worst experience was his not friends or enemies.
On the last day the eighth graders got to watch a movie, and the boys teamed together and picked “Monty Python and Now for Something Completely Different.”
Father explains business
Today I will be interviewing Mark L. Thompson who happens to be my dad.
He is a long time resident of Webster Groves. He is a window washer and gutter cleaner.
I asked him what he thought about his business partner. He said, “ Me and my business partner work really well together because we’ve been working together for over30 years.”
Then I asked him what his favorite part of work was. He responded he likes to meet new clients since they are all different.
Next I asked him how tall is your tallest ladder was. He exclaimed, “My tallest ladder is 36 ft.”
Last but not least I asked my dad who tall his smallest ladder is? He responded. “My smallest ladder is 4 ft.”
My dad is fun and nice, and he works hard, but most of all, he is the best dad ever.
Father answers questions about his trip to Hawaii
What was your favorite vacation that was recent?
My dad, Sean King, said, “Hawaii.”
What kinds of animals were there?
My dad sai,d “Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, birds and fish.”
What was your favorite thing you did in Hawaii?
My dad said, “Zip lining.”
What was the weather like in Hawaii?
My dad said, “Very sunny and beautiful.”
Did you snorkel, and if yes, why did you go snorkeling?
My dad said, “Yes, and I liked it because I could see the fish and the ocean floor.”
Would you want to go back to Hawaii, and if yes, why?
My dad said, “Absolutely because we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do.”
Where did you stay in Hawaii?
My dad said, “We stayed at Aston KanipalinShores.”