• Emily Passman

The Real World; Jobs, Computers, and Becoming an Educator

My idea was to get an apartment, find a job, establish residency and go to the University of Oregon in Eugene. And I did! I worked at “Charlie’s Pool Hall as a “change girl”. I gave change for the pinball and snack machines, called for tech help when they broke, set people up with pool tables, and overall kept the peace. I liked it! I was taking classes part-time, made friends, and lived in a dumpy apartment. I rode my bike everywhere.


I stayed in Eugene for 4 years. Now my choices for study felt more related to “job prospects” for the future and I took graphic design classes as well as lots of geography. I got a BS degree in both art and Geography. This was all just before everything changed to the computer, so I learned the cut and paste methods of graphics, A real X-acto knife, and all the materials for what lead us to photoshop! I was hanging around with Geograohy majors, taking weekend trips to the Oregon coast, camping, and working for the Forest Service. It was the first time I had a “real” office job and I was creating title blocks with ink, drafting new roads onto large Forest Service maps. I was sent for 4 days into a forest fire in the Detroit Ranger District to be the “Fire Cartographer”. I stayed in a trailer, took information from the fire fighters regarding where the fire lines and heliports were, and I kept up with drafting new maps on-the-spot so the fire fighters would know the information needed to fight the fire.


I also bought my first car at that time. An old 1971 Dodge Dart. A “three-on-the-tree” transmission. I loved that old green car.


After returning home I got a job at the Finer Decoration Company. This was an art studio in Natick, MA where we created the painted toilets, tiles, bidets and sinks for Sherle Wagner, a very fancy NY bathroom design company. Again, it was a thrill to work in a studio with other painters. The designs were not our own, and we followed templates, but it still felt creative. And for years later, I would make hand-painted toilet seats as gifts for people. One of my claims to fame there, was that the country singer Crystal Gayle ordered one of the seats I painted, for her tour bus.


I also got a job at the “Strategic Planning Institute” which, as I look back now, was instrumental in my entering into the computer world. I was part of a support team for management researchers and I made pie charts, graphs, and the driest power point presentations but I learned to use the Mac as a layout tool, and all the lingo that surrounded it.


I loved the computer as a tool for graphic design and illustrations. I taught “Desktop Publishing” at Brookline adult Ed. using “Pagemaker” and the early drawing program, “MacDraw II”.


Around that time I went to Boston University and received a Master’s in Education. I taught 3rd grade in Marblehead at a Jewish Day School. I stayed for 3 years and though I was teaching general third grade, I intertwined the arts into everything. One fond memory is that as part of a unit on Jerusalem, I asked a local shoe store owner (whose kids were at this school) to donate hundreds of shoe boxes and the kids painted them to look like stone, and we hung them throughout the halls to recreate the famous and sacred Wailing Wall, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem.


I bought my first computer in the late 80’s. The “Mac 2” It weighed a ton, and sat on the floor. Floppy disks became a big part of my life. I started my own small business called “Arts and Charts”

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