A Canturbury Tale

by Virgil Rochester

I arrived at Aquinas my senior year after transferring from Fermin Lasuen in San Pedro, California. My father had just returned from overseas duty in Taiwan and was stationed at Norton AFB, in San Bernardino. 


I can say with absolute certainty that Father LaRiviere had a great impact on me.  One thing that I remember was that he pushed you to be the best that  you could be and was a stickler when it came to completing your assignments on-time, but also in accordance with his standards of  excellence. 


The thing that I remember most was that we all had to do a  term paper our senior year on Chaucer's Canturbury Tales. For the  assignment, we were to pick one of the tales and then do extensive  research to determine whether or not the tale had some historical basis.  For that assignment, I chose the "Wife of Bath Tale". The assignment was made in September or October, and it was due in the January/February timeframe.  


When I arrived home from school, I told my dad about the  assignment and his comment was, "Great, let's go down to the library and  checkout some books and get started." I looked at my dad like he was  crazy and said, "Why, it isn't due for months." My dad told me, that it was best to get started now because he expected a draft term paper from  me before Thanksgiving. 


As part of the assignment, we could not have any  grammatical or spelling errors, and no errors regarding citations for material used in research and development of our term paper.  Also, it had to be a minimum of 25 type written pages. So, I  suspect there are still a few of us who remembered this assignment and the stringent requirements that Father LaRiveriere laid on us.  


I completed my first draft just before  Thanksgiving and handed it into my dad for his review. When I got it back, it looked like someone had committed ritual seppuku over the top  of it as there was more red than there was black on my paper. My dad  then told me that my next draft was due to him before Christmas break.  That would have been December of 1967. Shortly after I turned that draft into my dad, he returned it to me and it still had quite a bit of red,  but not near as bad as the previous draft. His instruction for me was to have my final draft one week after we returned to  school from Christmas vacation. So, I turned in my next draft and to my  surprise, no "red". 


My dad then turned it over to my mom so that she  could type it up in preparation for submission to Father LaRiveriere.   The paper was submitted on time; and about a week later Father LaRiveriere returned the papers to us. When I first  got my paper, there was not grade on it, simply a check mark in the  upper right hand corner of the paper. I looked around the room to see if  anyone had received a graded paper and saw none. It was shortly after  that Father LaRiveriere announced that I had submitted the only passing paper and that the rest of the class would have to redo theirs, with the caveat that it would be on a different subject. 


I cannot begin to tell  you how relieved I was when I found out that I didn't have to do another  paper. It was one of the few times that I went home and thanked my dad  profusely for helping me through the process and making me work. I also  never forgot that lesson from Father LaRiveriere as he was one of those teachers who shaped my life and a person that I will never forget.