This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.
It is hard to believe that this November, after forty-nine years of teaching English literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, Dr. Dorothy Parkander will retire. She will be seventy-one.
Generations of English majors have absorbed her lectures on Chaucer, Milton, Donne, and Austen, but the must-take course for business major and pre-med alike has been World Literature and its centerpiece, Homer's Odyssey.
Twice a year, Dorothy has taken forty or fifty students from farms in Iowa, small Illinois towns or Chicago suburbs, and launched them from the second floor of Old Main out across the wine-dark seas in an adventure as awe-filled as any Odysseus took, and returned them safe again to Room 220 in time for the final examination.
But never quite comfortable again. Many students marked this course as the start of their own restless wanderings in realms of knowledge and imagination they had never dreamed of back in Rockford or Peoria. They are scattered today across the world.
As for Dorothy, herself, each voyage was a new adventure, as it always is for true teachers. She steered through the perils of the classroom with skill and faith, past the hordes of G.I.s, through the Silent Generation, subduing the Hippies and X Generation alike.
And now, at last, she has come home to spend more time baking bread and reading mysteries. It is not likely that Odysseus will find the same rest. Teachers may retire, but the students they have inspired continue the voyages. So many of Dorothy's students have caught her vision, and gone on to classrooms of their own, that the wine-dark seas surrounding Greece must be crowded with ships signaling to each other as they pass on their voyages. Sailings almost daily from Minnesota, Vancouver, London, Japan, Ecuador—wherever Dorothy's students are around the world.
Dorothy is retiring, but not so Odysseus. The voyages out go on. Circe, Scylla, and the Sirens are not yet safe, and far away at home, Penelope must wait a while longer.
Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.