When I taught Shakespeare for the first time, at CCNY in the mid-60s, fresh out of graduate school, I was mightily unprepared. I set myself the challenge of teaching a new play every week for thirty weeks. So every weekend I would tackle a play that I had read but not studied and then MWF try to explain it to my unwilling cherubs. I learned a lot but I can't imagine that I was an effective instructor, struggling, as I was, to keep my academic head above water (and by the way deal with a newborn at home).
But sometime during that first year I met Rose Zimbardo, who was teaching another section of the course, and it was from Rose that I began to learn my trade. She was a few significant years older than I, more experienced (and more imaginative as well). Rose invited me to go for lunch with her and her great friend Ed Quinn, who had recently completed, nominally with O. J. Campbell, but in fact all by himself, the still useful Shakespeare Encyclopedia. Quinn knew everything and Rose was chock full of theories about the plays, some sensible, some borderline daft, but all provocative. Lunches for me with Ed and Rose became a moveable seminar -- not an exaggeration to say as valuable as another Ph. D. I was challenged, inspired.
I lost that job (good fortune in the long run) and Rose moved on to Stony Brook. I didn't meet Ed Quinn for twenty years, when I encountered him at Boston hotel sometime in the 80s, and we had a moment to reminisce. I never set eyes on Rose again. But I thought about her and Ed often and I look back with fondness and gratitude for all they taught me.
Ed died a few years ago, a great loss. And now Rose.
Last year, through the miracle of the internet, I was able to exchange a few emails with Rose. I hope I properly expressed my appreciation for all she had done for me. It was my intention to visit her the next time I found myself in California (she had retired to Davis, which she professed to loathe) as part of my farewell tour. Too late, alas.
Rose was a fine scholar, an excellent teacher, and a great lady. Rest in peace, old friend.