Friday, August 13, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Madame Lee Pivornick

This post is eleven years late. Jim and I are very fortunate. We had fabulous teachers in high school. Madame Lee Pivornick was one of them. She taught French and English. Jim was in her French class and we both had her for senior English. She was elegant and eccentric. She wore silk , chiffon, high heels and a French twist. (This may not have been the fashion of the day, but she had her own definition of hip.) She expected excellence and good manners. She was classy. She loved Europe and the United States. She loved Las Vegas. Her enthusiasm and upbeat attitude just bubble in her writing - she wrote a book called Continental Fling. Jim and I found a copy in Special Collections at UNLV yesterday. We had so much fun going through it. It was a travel guide written in 1965. She flew from Las Vegas to New York and then cruised across the Atlantic to Europe. The captain and crew on the ship were French. Champagne was served at dinner. There is a photo of Madame on the bridge with the captain. She is steering the ship. She said that she and Madame de Gaulle are the only people besides the captain who got to steer the ship. She said that the passengers were all practicing their French with the crew and learning new words on the way over to Europe.

In addition to teaching high school, she taught French at UNLV (Nevada Southern University at the time) and she wrote travel columns for the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review Journal. She was the French Club advisor at Las Vegas High School. She took the French Club to France in the summer.

As adults, Jim and I talked several times about contacting Madame, but we never did. Oh, how I wish we had. She died in 1999. I wish I had thanked her for getting Jim through French grammar and getting us both through Great Expectations and Macbeth. Most of all, I wish I had told her how I admire the way she lived her life. She was so special and she did exactly what she wanted to do. She was a superb teacher. I hope she was happy in her personal life. Jim and I think she must have been. She did so much traveling and in class, she never seemed to have a bad day. That has to be a sign that all parts of your life are good.

We took notes on Parisian restaurant recommendations she made in Continental Fling. Paris is on our list. When we go there, we're going to one of the restaurants she recommended and we will drink a toast to Madame.

20 comments:

padmaja said...

She seems to have been a wonderful personality Candy,, lucky you had her association!. Coming to thanking any one, we should never delay in doing so, a time may not come again in our way. Your post is a tribute to her.
Thanks for liking my Vegas moment :-)

AutumnLeaves said...

Oh what a fabulous story and such wonderful memories! I had Madame Flaherty (oh the dichotomy!) for French I and French II, and I had Monsieur Ellis for French III and French IV. I even took a couple of semesters of French in college. That said, I don't use it so have forgotten much of what is important. I would love to take it again (and in fact, have a small course that I bought a few years ago and still haven't taken). I so wish I could be packed in your suitcases when you make the trip!

Jimmm said...

Bon Jour Mes Amies.....It was great fun and very touching to read our teacher's book.......She was a "Bon Vivant".....And she "loved" Las Vegas which makes her "parfait" in my "bibliothèque"

Candy said...

Padmaja, you are so right. It's too bad it took me so long to realize that if we miss the moment the first time, we don't always have another chance.

I loved what you said about Las Vegas and your painting is lovely.

Sherry, we bought French lessons a couple of years ago. Jim loaded them on the computer and that's as far as we got. We'll have to get into student mode. Madame Flaherty is the perfect name for a French instructor:) A Paris trip is a few years away. Maybe you can curl up in my carry on bag. French will probably come back to you when we get there. It'll be a blast.

Jimmm, we've got to see if we can find someone who has the book for sale. You still remember some good French words:)

AutumnLeaves said...

Candy, I'm not sure why but I always assumed Flaherty was an Irish name? Is it French then? LOL I'm sitting here looking at my French course on my book shelf. I wonder if it is CDs, cassette tapes, or if there is a book in that little box. Hmmm...I really should open it up! LOLOL

Jimmmmm...I thought bibliotheque was the word for dictionary and libre was the word for book? LOLOL

AutumnLeaves said...

I mean bibliotheque is the word for library? See what happens when all these years intervene? I forget lots of good stuff!

Candy said...

Ha! It's settled. Sherry and Jimmm will be the translators on the trip to Paris. If it helps, "biblioteca" is Spanish for "library":) I have a feeling we're going to get in a lot of trouble (the good kind).

Jimmm said...

Yes, bibliothèque IS the word for library, but I couldn't remember the word for book.....Maybe that is why I was banned from ze French Club in high school.........Madame Pivornik would be so ashamed of me!

Anonymous said...

There is a "French Conversation & Culture Workshop" on Wednesdays this Fall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. beginning 9-29-10 on the UWS Campus. Madame Pivornik highly suggests you all attend.

Randi said...

Love this.

Cobalt Violet said...

I think gratitude itself is a prayer that flies to the heavens. Great teachers make such a difference in our lives ... so often we see how much, much later. I think teachers (good ones) know this.

Candy said...

Lucinda, you expressed that perfectly. I love that thought.

mimbles said...

A wonderful tribute to someone who was clearly a very special person. Great post Candy :)

Shauna Bo Bauna said...

Jay and I are taking French this semester... He has had 4 years and I have had none so hopefully he can help me pass! This was a lovely story!

Candy said...

Hi, Shauna! Jim and I have talked about studying French together one of these days. Let me know if you enjoy it. Where are you taking the class? I hope your teacher has the perfect name like Sherry's teacher, Madame Flaherty:)

Bob Sklar said...

I remember her well. I had her for French II and French IV. For French III I had Mme. Mongeot, as I was attending Valley High that year (when it first opened). Mme. Pivornick was quite demanding, but she certainly knew her subject.

Bob Sklar, LVHS '67.

Robert Martin said...

Thank you for your memories of Madame Pivornick. I had her for three years of French in high school and then went on to major in French Lit in college and then went on to study Chinese in France. She obviously made a big impression on me. I illustrated "Continental Fling" for. That was a great opportunity for a young man who really knew nothing about illustrating a book. But she had confidence in me. I appreciate her unique, eccentric personality and teaching skills.

Robert Martin

Robert Martin said...

Thank you for you memories of Madame Pivornick. I studies three years of French with her at LVHS. I went on to major in French Lit in college and then studied another three years in France. So she definitely had a great influence on me. I too appreciated her unique, and eccentric personality. She asked me to illustrate her book, "Continental Fling". That was a great honor for a young man who knew nothing about illustration! Thank you again for the memories

Candy said...

Robert, thank you for commenting. In case you haven't heard, there is a Las Vegas High School all class reunion in September. Jim and I went last year and had a blast.

Candy said...

Bob, thank you for commenting, too! Maybe you'll attend the LVHS all class reunion in September.