Dave, quoting Ghandi, “that’s a good idea.”
We talked endlessly about the shell game that passes for Democracy in America. I still have my copy of Tocquiville.
I remember too, Dave musing about starting a new field, “White Trash Studies.” He figured he’d be a shoo in for a medal of some sort.
More seriously, he was convinced, and he convinced me that we’d never understand the course of American politics, and its strong reactionary bent, if we didn’t take “white trash” seriously on its own terms.
Every time I turned the page while reading “Deer Hunting with Jesus” I thought of Dave Hitchens.
Walking into that classroom the first day in the Fall of 1995, I was instantly captivated by your ability to engage with history and bring all these past events and people to life. Your storytelling inspired me and your gentleness and care for our class of mostly 18 year olds created a space where I not only learned about how our country came to be, but also allowed me a path to discover who I was going to be. Now as a school librarian, when sharing stories with my students and leading them to their own personal and educational discoveries, I’m thankful that I was taught by one of the best!
I have always been fascinated with history but somehow the curriculum of my childhood American history classes was painfully redundant. We never seemed to get past the Industrial Revolution. So when I started taking “Looking Backward: America in the Twentieth Century” I was a little wary. I knew nothing about U.S. history past the 1800s and quite frankly, I was no longer interested. But when I walked into that classroom and met my professors, men who not only knew their subject but had lived through what they were teaching, I was blown away. Dave, I can’t say it any plainer. You made history interesting again. I went to class every day looking forward to hearing your stories and living vicariously through your experiences. What a captivating and charming storyteller you are. I can’t thank you enough. No professor has ever made me WANT to go to class that much. My best memories of Evergreen will always come from your class. Thank you. For everything.
Alexa Steele Class of ’10
I just had your news from Randy Earwood and in a short word, your mentorship at TESC saved me from the proverbial shit-eating dog.
You challenged me to look for myself beyond all the fears and insecurities, using just the right humor, just enough force and knowing when to ease up on a confused young hick.
Small things make the sum and over the years a great many small things you passed along or hinted at have mattered to me, and through me to others. I have lived in Viet Nam for the past 11 years working in the humanitarian mine action sector to address the explosive legacy of the war. At 50 I just became a father for the first time: our son Cy is 4 months old. These past few months in the run up to being a Dad you’ve come to mind often.
I have been able these past few years, and hope to continue, truly making a difference. Just as you made a difference for me and for God knows how many others over the years. Thanks for everything you knew and didn’t know you gave.
With deepest respects and fondest memories,
At first light
caught between two tigers on the trail
of what use now
these goods I carry to market?
I just passed my general examinations here at LSU. And while Dr. Cooper didn’t offer me a glass of brown whiskey (I suppose that’ll have to wait for the dissertation) it was an experience several years in the making. In fact, it began the summer you agreed to an independent learning contract. Reading Thomas Jefferson and Eudora Welty proved an education unto itself, but your guidance enriched the process immeasurably.
Not a day goes by down here in the bayou that I don’t think of you. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your support, encouragement, and mentorship. I love you and continue to draw from your inspiration. Take care and see you at Christmas.
Much love –