You knew Professor Slocomb was coming down the hall when you heard the stamping of his cane on the carpet and his heavy breathing from the many years of smoking like a chimney. Even minutes after he had passed through the hallway, you could still smell the cigarette smoke that clung to his jacket.
On December 15th, 2016, Professor Stephen Slocomb, one of my favorite professors and mentors passed away. Professor Slocomb began working at Endicott in 1971 when it was a small women’s junior college. He taught at Endicott until the end of the 2015 spring semester.
Grandpa Steve, as he used to call himself and as some of us students did was known as a storyteller. Part of Professor Slocomb’s charm and ability to capture his students’ minds was his ability to tell stories.
Spring of 2013, which was second semester of my freshman year, I found my love for history again thanks to Professor Slocomb. He opened the class by saying that he has health issues and if he were to “drop onto the floor, I would appreciate if someone were to at least attempt CPR.” Or if he fell due to his mobility issues if he could have “two strong guys help me back up.”
Professor Slocomb used his cane as a prop because he said, “So why not use the cane as prop? A prop can become a Roman Gladius, a Macedonian pike. I can create knights in my class by tapping the student’s shoulder…”
Professor Slocomb never wrote much on the board, just the key terms, and would lecture for the entire class. I filled up one-subject notebook during the course of the semester. I made hundreds of flashcards and studied the most for his class, although I probably should have focused more on my nursing classes. But, I enjoyed studying for his quizzes and exams because I loved the material. When I would study, I could hear his voice in my head, and I felt like I had a little Professor Slocomb lecturing on my shoulder.
When Professor Slocomb’s office was moved into the library, I was fortunate enough to see him every day I worked at the Writing Center. He would pass through the Writing Center as he walked to his classroom across the hall and would let us know what he was preparing to teach. Comments like, “Today, we are going to be talking about the black plague, how fun!” or how the recent quizzes by a 100 level course were rather dismal. Sometimes we’d talk about Monty Python and the Holy Grail or politics, but I always enjoyed every minute we spent talking.
Professor Slocomb helped me to find my passion – I wrote a 20-page paper on Joseph Warren’s influence on the Revolutionary War and I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed every single one of Professor Slocomb’s classes because it ignited my spark and love for history again. Because of Professor Slocomb, his classes, and his influence, I am looking at a Doctoral degree program in American Studies at the University of Glasgow.
Professor Slocomb helped me find my path, but I know he helped do the same for others. He was an amazing professor and person. The world is a less funny and less wise place without him. I’m going to miss the stamp of his cane, the sound of his voice, his black humor, his large gold-rimmed glasses. He will be greatly missed, but he will live on with former students and me because we carry his knowledge and love of history with us for the rest of our lives. I really loved Professor Slocomb because he had such a love of teaching, but his passion for imparting his knowledge to the thousands of students he taught at Endicott always shined through.
Thank you, Grandpa Steve, you will be greatly missed.
“If you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth...” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference).