Mr. Tom Danforth recalls the wild 70s
By Alex Stanley ’12
Mr. Garner’s question from December’s “Teacher’s Pet”: Would you rather slide down a razor blade slide into a pool of alcohol, or drink a bucket of monkey snot, and why?
I would slide down into the pool of alcohol, so that then I could numb the pain.
Where were you born?
I was born in Worcester, Mass. My dad was in the Air Force, and we lived up and down the east coast.
And you went to Brophy?
Yes, eventually we moved to Phoenix. I got sick with arthritis and couldn’t walk, so we moved out to Arizona for the clean air and heat.
Within three months, I went from being in braces to walking.
What was Brophy like in the 70s?
It was much wilder. They pretty much accepted anybody who applied to Brophy, and could pay the $700 tuition.
Also, we were in massive debt in those days, and were fearful that Brophy might close.
I can remember one of the guys in my class, Cris Kirkwood, who is now in a band called the Meat Puppets.
He got kicked out of Brophy for drugs, and he drove his Volkswagen Bug through the bottom floor of what is now Brophy Hall. He drove up the stairs, down the hall and flipped the dean off.
As well, sometimes they would close the afternoon classes, and have the whole school assemble on the front lawn. They would have a magician do an act, or something to that extent.
We also had Elton John come to Brophy and he signed a mural in second floor Brophy Hall.
It was a big deal, none of the kids went to their classes, there were camera crews and even kids from Central had migrated over.
Where did you go to college?
I went to Santa Clara. I went there mostly because it was almost an extended Brophy experience, and a lot of my favorite teachers had gone there.
It was actually the only school I applied to, and luckily I got in. I loved it from the day I walked on campus.
Why did you become a teacher?
In part because of the teachers I had at Brophy.
The current Mr. Klein’s father was my geometry teacher. I hated geometry, and I was terrible at it, so I went in for after-school tutoring with him.
That guy never gave up on me, he always kept trying. That stuck with me.
Also, when I was at Santa Clara I volunteered as an aide for a second grade class. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.
I also taught high school in Kenya when I joined the Peace Corps.
Who is the real Mr. D of the English Department, you or Mr. Damaso?
Damaso by far, have you seen the way he dresses? He’s so mod. He’s incredibly creative in the way he teaches, uses computers and dresses. He’s like our figure head.
We’re going to mount him and put him on the front of a building one of these days, or maybe on a flag pole by his underwear. So I bow to him, even though I taught him.
Where do you get all of your Hawaiian shirts?
I have just collected them over the years. They’re also not Hawaiian shirts, they’re Spooners.
Rumor has it you love Jimmy Buffett, is that true?
Absolutely. I think Jimmy Buffett is part of the Holy Trinity of music. There’s Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.
Are you considering retiring to some island paradise?
Absolutely, who hasn’t? Although, I would miss this place too much, I would miss the guys here at Brophy too much.
Why do students call you “dad?”
It started with my seventh period class. All 25 of them started calling me dad, and then it spread to first and third periods. I now have random guys in the hallway calling me dad.
How can students earn an “A” in one of your classes?
A student can get an “A” by hard work and balancing all of the extracurricular activities they are in.
How about a paid trip to Hawaii?
I would love a paid trip to Hawaii. Funnily enough, that is one of the places I have never been to. I think that would be awesome.
Pose a question for the next teacher interviewed.
What would you do to make Brophy a better place?