Out and About

May 6, 2014 8:53 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

Out and About: Writing lessons from a Pirate

There are characters who live up and down the Central Coast who make life more interesting for all of us. One of them hangs out regularly in Schooner's in Cayucos. I met Randy Crozier a few years ago now, but when I got Out and About in Cayucos recently, I learned there's a lot more to the guy than meets the eye.

Sometimes lessons come in the most unexpected of places...like from a rough-around-the-edges character sitting at the end of a bar. Randy Crozier is a is a regular at Schooner's in Cayucos. He does plastering for a living, but for play, he often hangs out there.

Happy hour usually starts when he walks in the door. He also makes visits to Schooner's more magical for younger customers by playing up his pirate persona for them. "You know what a pirate's favorite letter is?" Randy asks a group of mesmerized kids who just paid a visit to his treasure chest for post-meal sweet treats. "Ahrrrrrr" he growls. They giggle with delight.

Kids love Pirate Randy, which is how he got his latest role: Pirate Pen Pal Randy.

It started when Dane Volz, a first-grader at Cambria Elementary School was resisting writing lessons some in school. He was excelling at reading and when the story mentioned a pirate, he mentioined he knew a pirate named Randy. That's when Dane's teacher got an idea. Maybe Randy could scribe a letter to his little buddy asking Dane to write back.

But Randy didn't just get one letter back back, he got 19. "You are nice. I'm glad you are a pirate." Randy laughs his hearty laugh as he reads the adorable letters.

John Walker had been teaching the reading and writing lessons at Cambria Elementary School and jumped at an opportunity when the whole class wanted to have a Pirate Pen Pal like Dane. "They had to have a proper heading, they had to write 5 sentences, and they had to end it with either thank you, sincerely, something to that effect."

"Oh! And look, there's a picture of me!" Randy says as he notices the illustration that came with one of the letters as he reads them. "Oh, that's so nice."

The letters back and forth have continued with Randy sharing tales of life at sea and the adventures he and his pirate buddies experience. The kids seem to remember every detail.
"They were going out to sea to find treasure. They got on this little beach and this mermaid led to this beach and they saw a really big treasure chest...." Dane Volz explains when I ask what kind of adventures he's read about.

The exchanges have not only helped get the kids to write.

But tapped into those wonderful young imaginations.

Some of the letters from Randy and his crew come with treasures found at sea: gold coins, ruby red necklaces for the girls and eye patches for the boys. "So then I tied it into a thank you note assignment." says Walker.

Some of the letters from kids come to Randy and the boys on crew. Some to the girls who are brave enough to live at sea. "Was the ship dirty?" one of the letters asks. Randy laughs a huge belly laugh at the question.

It's hard to tell who's getting the most out of these exercises. Dane and his classmates? His parents? "They're asking all kinds of questions about the pirate life to Randy....and Randy's obviously responding and writing back, it's great." says Dane's dad Torsten Volz.

Or it is Randy and his crew of regulars getting the most out of the assignment? It's adorable to watch them read the letters out loud to each other. Sometimes lessons and hidden treasures are found in the most unexpected of places.

So keep an eye out for characters when you get out and about.

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