I heard the news of Doc's passing and almost instantly thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Be a Simple Kind of Man." Johnny Van Zandt sings this song at each live concert in memory of his brother Ronnie.
John was a gentle man, intelligent, caring and had a great sense of humor. You can only picture him laughing. I had the good fortune of being with John and MaryAnne when we had the opportunity to tip a few. When he visited he always brought a bottle of wine and made sure it got emptied.
When I worked for John in the Alternative Wing at Phillip Livingston, he could quickly defuse my anger by simply cracking me up. Our classrooms were as far away from his office as you could get and still be in school. He used to come up and hide there. We loved it when he did this.
The first time I met Doc was also the first time he set me up for a laugh. It was at my initial interview! After the interview he walked me out. On the way, he asked me what I thought of Mary Anne Malecki the District Language Arts Supervisor? I told him that she had asked some difficult questions and asked why he wanted to know. He said," Oh just wondering; she's my wife." And then he smiled his smile.
For me Doc's best quote will be ," Just don't get me arrested or cost me any money."
In the spring of 2003 Dave Wiess, John, Mary Anne and I went to Columbia University for Writer's Workshop. This was during the school February break. The Sunday we arrived , New York City got two feet of snow and two days of classes were cancelled. We saw the Da Vinci exhibit, went to the movies and drank - alot. The highlight was when Mary Anne got us Letterman tickets.
Thinking back, even then John didn't go out with us one night because walking in the snow had tired him.
Those of you that know me know that I'm not a religious man but I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to have walked the earth with John Polnak - A Simple Kind of Man.