A Seagull Will Wait...
An Eulogy for James A. Smith
Next summer, down Surrey way on the coast of Maine, a seagull will wait, pace, wait, squawk, wait, cock its head, wait. Eventually it will fly off to forage for itself, for Jim will not be there to feed it. Jim will not return to his beloved Maine coast.
Jim, James Albert Smith, was born the youngest of eleven children on a salt water farm. He was educated at the University of Maine and taught at nearby Ellsworth High School. After a few years itchy feet, perhaps encouraged by sea captain brothers and brothers-in-law, led him to accept a year's teaching assignment in Argentina as a Fulbright Scholar. Longing for the sound of fog horns and pine trees sighing in the wind, Jim returned to the Ellsworth/Surrey area.
Once again Jim felt his feet itching and he departed for Seoul, Korea. Seoul American High School was in its infancy, just one year old, when "the old baster,' as he was lovingly called by his students, settled in to prepare seniors for college. "Remember the Maine" was lettered on the front of his podium and year after year cocky seniors squirmed nervously under his piercing stare and sarcastic wit. Being called Dummie Lummie by the old baster became a badge of honor to be worn proudly by a deserving senior.
For what was to be one-third of his seventy-five year life, Jim coaxed, wheedled and demanded the best from his students in senior English. A composition each week was required as well as more than a nodding acquaintance with British literary greats. For ten months each year Jim prepared SAHS seniors for their futures; the remaining two months he spent on his beloved Maine coast.
In June of 1985 Jim retired from teaching. Winters were spent in Florida, summers in Maine. In both places calls and letters from former students continued to be received. To the end Jim was remembered by his Dummie Lummies.
Next summer, down Surrey way on the coast of Maine, a seagull will wait....
Arline J. O'Brien
As printed in the December 1990 issue of the Seoul American High School Paper. James A. Smith died in December of 1990. He had taught English at Seoul American High School from the fall of 1960 to the spring of 1985.