A Salute to Old Photographs and a Great American

zdorsteA friend passed along an old photograph from a Civics class during our senior year, 1977, at the incomparable Miami Senior High [MHS]. I spy myself  [ouch], friends I remember and others, who sadly I do not. That leaves only the guy in the red coat, thick glasses and a perpetual [trust me] smile unaccounted for.

His name was George C. Dorste. My limited googling turned up only one reference, the fact that he served as a Lieutenant in the Army during WWII. I know he passed away in 2003, because a search of the Miami Herald’s obituaries confirmed the date. What’s more I remember seeing his obituary in the paper awhile back and setting it aside. Of course, I have no idea where it may be now. Over the years, I would spot a letter to the Editor from him in the Miami Herald every now and then.

Here’s what I remember about him in reverse order of importance.

  • He showed me great teacher-mercy. My inability to recite the steps in ‘how a bill becomes a law’ was correctly deduced by him to be attributable to the fact that I was pelted by crumpled papers, gum and one sock during the actual presentation.
  • He gave me my favorite grade in high school, A-3-F. The latter two marks denoted effort and conduct. Wait, correction, he didn’t give them to me, I earned them.
  • He loved his country.

While accurate, the last item I listed is an inadequate description for the positively joyous outpouring of pride, gratitude and heartfelt affection which Mr Dorste exhibited on a daily basis. He acted like someone who was exactly where he wanted to be, in a position to teach budding citizens how fortunate they were and what their responsibilities were for that good fortune. As a bonus, he taught us that a pretty girl was ‘hot tomato.’ He was one of those rare people who would be hard to describe without the use of the word nice.

When you look up the word civics, it speaks of the importance in the role of the citizen to government. Mr Dorste–possibly a 2nd generation American himself, like many of his MHS students–served in WWII, went to college on the GI bill, carved out a career as a public school teacher. Not coincidentally I would argue, he then found himself smack dab in the middle of teaching high school civics in a community enduring one of the greatest influxes of immigrants in American history.

George C. Dorste was a great citizen and a great example to his students. This is one belated thank you.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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5 Responses to A Salute to Old Photographs and a Great American

  1. T.Peruyera Figueras says:

    I, too, remember Mr. Dorste’s Government class. You are right: he loved his country and he inspired us — especially those of us who had come here from Cuba and were fortunate to now live in a free society — to value that freedom and to love our new home. I remember the mad dashes to the wastebasket in search of the Op/Ed section of the paper on Mondays. (Back then a lot of us couldn’t afford the “English” paper, and Diario Las Americas was way too difficult for us to translate!) I didn’t mind it at all when he called each of us girls a “lovely tomato” because he just didn’t do it with any malice intended. I hated having to memorize the names of all the cabinets and who headed each one. I have since forgotten all of that; however, there are two things that, after all these years, I fondly remember from Mr. Dorste’s class: the story about the dog who ran into the tree and split into two (LOL) and, every Friday, his famous pre-quiz admonishment (in, according to him, Japanese): Eet-chee-key-nye-us (Don’t cheat!) Hey, that’s what he’d say, and if Mr. Dorste said it, then it just had to be true! He must have done something right — I became a teacher, of all things, of Social Studies, and what would I tell my students before every quiz? You guessed it: Eet-chee-key-nye-us! Rest in peace, Mr. D, and may God bless you.Tere Peruyera FiguerasMHS Class of 1971

  2. Teachers never get enough credit for their work! But! As I read your thoughts of your teacher in high school Jorge, it speaks volumes about the gift teachers have on our children!God bless and see you real soon!with warm regards,Willie Chacon

  3. Fernando says:

    I too remember Mr. Dorste with great fondness and admiration. His stories about his experiences as an officer in WWII influenced my decision to join the Army. I also remember the story about the “dog that split in two” his admonition in Japanese (eet-shee-kee-nyuh)and the sad story about how he inadvertently offended his Japanese translator when he gave him as a gift a set of dishes engraved with the Imperial emblems unaware that such a gesture meant a “reprimand” to the Japanese. I last spoke with him over the phone when I came across a story in the Herald about how his home had been burglarized. He remembered me and asked me if I had “learned anything” in his class. Yes, Mr. Dorste I did learn something, how to be a good soldier and a citizen. It's gratifying to see how many of your former students remember you fondly. God bless you.

  4. Aurelio Azpiazu says:

    As a 1963 Graduate of Miami Senior High, I also had Mr. Dorste. He and Mr. Scott (for Biology) arranged for me an American born child of Cuban parents (arrived 1939) to be sent to a weekend seminar on Communism. That was worth more than what we learned in class and helped me relate what I had seen on my last visit to Cuba in November 1959. Mr. Dorste was a teacher the likes of which I wish we had more today.

    I have read some of your posts as a result of Lou Romano (also ’63 and HOF) sending out the link. Your writings are quite enjoyable and boil down the essence of what makes all classes of Miami Senior High able to maintain a strong connection to the school. I have spoken of the connections that are not just my class’ but demonstrate themselves across so many classes before and after. When I tell stories people that do not know MSH find it hard to believe the connection.

    I tell them stories of classes 20 years apart that happen to have a reunion on the same night and the same location with both of them having turnouts exceeding 30% of the graduating group.
    On another note- my mother who married my Father when they met after he had been in the US, went to the University of Havana with Castro and called him a Communist before anyone else did. She went on to get not one but 2 PhD’s and taught in Miami schools for more than 50 years and would have continued until her death if she could have. It was truly a passion. She was one of the Cuban-Americans that setup the bi-lingual programs to TRANSITION the refugee children into mainstream English classes. She kept all of the Cuban traditions and I am bi-lingual, but she insisted that the strength of the USA was the single language of English and felt that bi-lingual education should only be to provide a way to mainstream a non-English speaking student.

    I have friends that were part of the ‘Pedro Pan’ arrival who have also become senior officers of US firms and shown that this is a great country when it is allowed to be.
    Again congratulations and thank you for sharing your memories and stirring up some from this older Stingaree. I am also a U of M Hurricane (1968) in Engineering.

  5. Aurelio – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and the kind words about the blog – while I know others have read the blog post, all who take the time to comment add to the legacy of the likes of a Mr. Dorste in one very little corner of the blogosphere – on the personal side, thanks for allowing me to revisit my gratitude.

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