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Even though you are no longer with us,
memories of you are like footprints remaining in our hearts.


 

Professor Ly Chanh Duc taught in our junior year. At that time we were still unsettled trying to adopt to the different environment that was harsh to everybody. Professor Duc helped to ease our anxiety by lightening up the lecture and teaching us to sing songs from the old Hollywood movies, we practiced and sang Oh My Papa and By The Light Of The Silver Moon as a way to improve our English with the music melody. Since then Professor Duc became a father figure. He continued to assist us in finding our direction, his enlightening perspectives helped us to see many aspects in life. Once in a while, when these movies are played, I think of professor Duc and the old days when we sang Oh My Papa.

I first knew Do Tuan Dat in my Sophomore year. I originally attended Van Hanh while Dat was in Su Pham. Three schools (Su Pham, Van Hanh, Hoa Hao) were merged after the turbulent 1975. Going to class was very different then. I got to know Dat more through the activities and the extra curriculums including the one month labor trip to Ai Nga, Long An. Dat was tall and older than most of us and already married with kids, so in a way he's like a big brother. He seemed to be distant while most of us played like kids and joked, and of course because he was a big brother so he was watching after us and made sure we were not out of line! The one thing that still stands out today as I think of Dat is his English accent. At first I could not comprehend most of the words he spoke, then much later I realized it was the southern accent. It was a very rare accent to us especially when we were learning English as a foreign language. I didn't see Dat or hear from him until in the mid 80ís Tho sent me the reunion pictures (Memories page 3), I recognized Dat right away, tall and slimmer. He stays in my mind, always as a big brother.

Luu Ky An

 

I have just read Ky-An's Tribute Page for our Teacher Ly Chanh Duc and our friend Dat again and the tears, once again, have swollen up my eyes. Your description of Teacher Duc and Dat has touched my heart so deeply.

I still remember the name "Ly Chanh Duc" but I cannot, at first, figure out how our teacher Duc looked like at that time. But as you mentioned the songs "Oh My Papa" and "By The Light Of The Silver Moon", all of the sudden, the memories of Teacher Ly Chanh Duc came back to me. Thay Ly Chanh Duc was a little short and thin and had a French wife. I think Thay Duc was a perfectionist as Thay always wanted his students to take a look at all the meanings, derivations, phrases and examples of a new word they happened to learn. Thay Duc once introduced his little daughter to us, a group of female students, I think Thanh-My and Hong were there, too. She was just about two years old but Thay had already begun to teach his little child Vietnamse and French at the same time. Thay told us then with pride that his little daughter could speak French at the age of two and, as an evidence, Thay told us a short story about his little daughter. She once wanted to eat one end of the baguette, so she pointed her finger to the baguette end and said in French "le coude", which means "the elbow". Thay explained then with conspicuous pride that the little child wanted to eat one end of the baguette but she put it wrongly as "le coude" and , as a good father, Thay could still understand what his little daughter meant. :-))

As far as I am concerned, Thay Ly Chanh Duc was a very good teacher, his language know-how was absolutely uncompetitive but his thinking was sometimes and somehow in disorder. I heard at that time that Thay had suffered a mental illness before he passed away. I am not sure until now whether the rumor was true or not.

About Dat, what I most remember of Dat was his smiles which were always on his lips. No matter these smiles were narrow or broad, every time I looked at Dat, I always found a welcome smile there. Maybe that was the reason why I could always share all of my true thinking with Dat so freely at that time. His warm smiles just smiled away all of my sorrow and worries in such dark days of my life. The female classmates - including Hong, Thanh-Thuy, Ngoc-Lan and me - used to tease Dat maybe because of his nice smiles, too. Whatever we did or said to Dat, he just gave us back heart warming smiles.

There is still one thing I cannot understand about Dat until now. Dat was a guitarist and used to play the guitar right after the event of April 1975 to help the dance group -"Van Cong" (dance). Hong, My, me and some other girls of higher English classes belonged to this dance group at that time. Once we needed some male dancers for our group, but because there were not enough volunteers from our male classmates, Dat had to quit his job as the guitarist for the dance group and began learning to dance with us. After a probation time of many days, our dancing group leader had to give up the idea of recruiting Dat into the dance group as, in spite of his excellent knowledge of music, Dat could not get along with the dance rhythm. When we moved up then Dat got down, and when we moved down then Dat got up. :-)) In a word, Dat could not keep himself in harmony with the whole group no matter how hard he tried.

Why a good guitarist like Dat could not keep the dance rhythm still remains a mystery for me until today. But one thing I know for sure about Dat is that I still keep a cozy corner in my mind and my heart for Dat, a nice friend of ours with heart opening smiles.

Pham Thi Tho

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