Home >> Volume 4, Issue 01

Marion Montgomery: A Few Brief Remarks

Tom Ledford

Marion Montgomery was the first English teacher I ever had who made me look forward to his class. All of the ones before him just had to be endured. I had always argued and fought with my English teachers before I met Marion Montgomery (and even another one who came after him.). Most of them were pedantic people with little respect for real learning, because they had so little of it themselves. Marion Montgomery had the real thing. Even from my early teens I was a secularist, a scientist, one who believes that there is a logical explanation for everything. I didn’t (and still don’t) believe in magic or superstition, no matter how formalized or ancient a system it is said to be rooted in.

When it came to fundamentals, I am sure I could have argued with Marion Montgomery about a lot of things, but I never did. Even when I was convinced he was wrong about something, I had too much respect for him to argue with him. He was not a man I would want to try to wear down, because he was so fully-engaged in lifting me up with the rest of his students. Marion lifted up this barefoot, dusty, clod-kicking, worm-infested, south Georgia kid and showed him some beautiful things, like introducing him to the beauty of Shakespearean sonnets.

My experience with Marion has become associated in my mind with the reaction of Howard Carter when he first entered the tomb of King Tut:

For a moment—an eternity it must have seemed to the others—I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, “Can you see anything?” it was all I could do to get out the words, “Yes, wonderful things….”