Arlene “Taffy” Rubin and her mother, Gladyce Rubin.
By Charlie Sacchetti
It all started on March 9, 2017, when I received this message on my Facebook page:
“Are you the Charles Sacchetti who wrote that charming article in the March 6 Philadelphia Inquirer? If so, my Mother was your typing teacher at Bartram High and sends her regards.”
The message was from Arlene “Taffy” Rubin, the daughter of my favorite teacher, Gladyce Rubin. It had been over 50 years since we had seen each other and that message was a blessing to receive.
Back in 1964, as a senior at Bartram in Southwest Philly, I was found to have an open period on my schedule that I would have to fill with an “elective” course. I was given a choice of several from which to choose. When I noticed that one of the courses was “Introduction to Typing,”, I decided to choose that one for two sound reasons. The first was that although I was enrolled in the College Prep curriculum with the plan to become an accounting major at Temple University, I felt that learning to type would be a skill that would be quite helpful moving forward. The second reason, which was just as important to a red-blooded boy of 17, was that the class would consist of 35 girls, two of my buddies and me.
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the course. Mrs. Rubin was an excellent teacher with the demeanor of a loving mother who cared for all of her kids. She showed great patience and skill in teaching us the proper techniques. By the time the school year was over, I could type about 45 words per minute. I was able to type properly, using all 10 digits, unlike my friends who developed callouses on their index fingers and stiff necks as they mastered the “hunt and peck” method. In addition to the obvious benefits of acquiring this skill, an unanticipated perk became available to the three of us. Mrs. Rubin was also the school’s dean of admissions, and as a busy school administrator, she required some hours of help from chosen student workers. We three filled that need and as a result were able to shuffle our classes so as to work in the office but also be dismissed early each day.
So, when I received the message from Taffy, many of these wonderful times were conjured up and I just had to arrange to see my favorite teacher again to give her a hug and thank her for teaching me a skill that has been invaluable throughout my entire professional and private life.
Shortly thereafter, the three of us arranged to meet for lunch at Lancer’s Diner, near Taffy’s home. By then, Gladyce was a youthful 96 and despite some medical issues, still displayed the beautiful nature and charm that made seeing her, way back when, such a joy. At lunch, aside from the fun in catching up after all of the years past, a highlight for me was seeing Gladyce so gleefully enjoying her strawberry milkshake, which served as dessert. That being said, the thing that I remember most about that reunion was the absolute bond of love displayed between mother and daughter. Obviously, Taffy is a woman who realizes the treasure with which she has been blessed.
Happily, our relationship has continued, with periodic phone calls and lunch dates which have resulted in the demise of more than a few corned beef sandwiches and other tasty morsels. I had planned to see her again on Sept. 16 but due to the COVID 19 situation, wasn’t able to do so. Of course, that didn’t stop me from making a phone call to wish her many blessings and good health. You see, Sept. 16 was a special day. It was Gladyce Rubin’s 99th birthday!
I’ll make sure I see her, for lunch, next September … strawberry milkshakes to follow!
Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books,“It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org