I Wished
I Could Be

I Thought I Was Invisible

My story? Hmmm. Actually I felt mostly lost and lonely at BY High.

I grew up in Provo, and when I was in the fifth grade, my teacher called my parents in for a conference. He was concerned because I didn't raise my hand or participate in class. Instead, I would silently write an essay on whatever question was being asked or on the discussion going on in class.

I was acutely shy. When my name was called, I froze.

Now I realize this teacher was trying to help. At the time, however, it was terrifying and I felt ashamed that my parents had been called about my behavior.

Then came junior high. I was put in a special education class, where I was required to learn long poems and recite them in front of other "extra-ordinarily" shy students.

It didn't work.

However, I still remember the poem, Southey's The Battle of Blenheim, every word. I'll just give you the first few lines:
It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun...

Next, my parents decided that a small school environment might help. So my dad registered me in BY High. I found it a bit more difficult to be invisible there. But I learned I could avoid speech and debate--where I would have to speak in front of people--by taking an extra seminary class. It did work, mostly.

My friends were always books. If I could get through the day and home to a book, it was all good.

I think my worst day came when I was waiting for a program to start, and one of the girls in our class informed me that I was sitting in the place where she and her friends always liked to sit.

Of course, I moved.

Now, that is the lost and lonely part of high school for me.

But there were also some good parts

Anna B. Hart, an English teacher, would stand in front of a group of distracted teens, take a deep breath, and start speaking poetry. She seldom looked down at the book in her hands. She knew it all by heart.

I would watch this woman, in her orthopedic shoes and crimped hairdo, and wonder "What is she doing here?"

One day after class, she stopped me and thanked me for paying attention during class. I was surprised. I thought I was invisible.

Why would she care? Decades later I read her biography, and began to understand her courage. She had a life of tragedy, disappointment, and challenge. Still, she achieved an extraordinary education, raised her child, supported her mother and never stopped. Particularly considering the time period, she showed tremendous courage.

The fact that she, with all of this, was aware of a troubled student, has taught me something about what she was doing there.

One day Judy Moss, our Journalism teacher, called me in for a meeting, and asked me to be the editor of the Y'ld Cat student newspaper. I immediately gave her the names of two students that I knew could do a better job than I. She told me she believed in me and that she wasn't going to interview anyone else. I now know what a gift her faith in me was.

BYH Y'ld Cat Staff, 1964.Photo by Reed Smoot
Hard working members of the 1964 Y'ld Cat staff included: 1. Sheri Hansen, Editor in Chief; 2. Judith Moss, Faculty Advisor; 3. Martha Johnson, News Editor; 4. Elaine Morgan, Editorial Editor; 5. Ken Smith, Sports Editor; and
6. Jeanie Gardner, Feature Editor. Photo by Reed Smoot. [Hover cursor over photo for identifications.]
I was lucky enough to have a great student photographer, Reed Smoot, to do all of our photography for the paper. He tried to teach me how to wind film on a roll in a darkroom. I never mastered it, but both his patience and good humor were unforgettable. He loved images, like I loved words.

And then, there was Jerry Johnson. When Mr. Laine Raty (pron. ray-tee), our art teacher, discovered I could not draw, nor throw a pot, we decided to talk Jerry into coming in, with his wonderful facial bone structure, to get his face slathered in jelly.

Jerry allowed us to stick straws in his nose so he could breathe, then we covered his face with plaster to create a face mask. Jerry was so quiet and still, I thought we had murdered him in the art room. But he survived, laughed, and said he enjoyed helping. He is now gone, but I would recognize his laughter instantly if I heard it today.

Mr. Raty continued to work with me. He actually got desperate enough to talk me into making a collage, which later won an award medal from the Utah National Guard. I knew it was my finest and only moment in the art world and that I should stop while I was at the top of my ability.

And then there was a boy in my class. I thought he was quite wonderful. I never really talked to him. One evening we had a dinner at the school. Afterward I was sitting at a table, alone. This handsome young man came over and sang a Beach Boys song to me. I could hardly breathe. And then he was gone.

Later, after the 1964 Wildcat yearbook signing party, I read his note. He said that he didn't know why I didn't like him. He probably doesn't remember any of this, but if he does, I want to tell him I liked him a lot, and I thank him for his kindness. I want him to forgive me. Reading those few words in my yearbook taught me a huge life lesson about paying attention to people and being grateful for kindness.

Life changed for me in 1965 at college. The shy girl had to be left behind. I worked my way through college.

After graduating, I bought a plane ticket to San Francisco. I had $100 and a place to stay for two weeks. My first job was working for the Alameda Naval Air Station. I was tour director, editor of the newspaper, photographer, speech writer, and public affairs aide to the Commander at the station.

Later, I traveled to Africa and did a hundred different things that I feared and loved.

Wherever I have gone, whatever has happened, I now realize there has always, ALWAYS, been someone there who notices the quiet person in the background and reaches out to them.

These are some of the things I began to learn and understand because of BY High.

I now live a quiet life with my husband, Owen, who I first saw when the Saint Mark's Rowland Hall basketball team came to Provo and beat us.

When I told him that I was going to write this, he said, "You, shy? I cannot imagine that!"

Thank you, Anna B. Hart. Thank you, Judy Moss, Reed Smoot, Laine Raty, Jerry Johnson. And thanks to the boy who sang a song to me all those years ago.

And, I think you should know, being invited to write this story has also been a gift.

By Sheri Hansen Hogle, BYH Class of 1964

BYH Class of 1964
BYH Class of 1964

The Battle of Blenheim
The Battle of Blenheim