The Ghosts


Some people have extremely cool college professors. They tell stories of these men and women who hold tenure and cannot be fired just for saying something truthful to impressionable, experimenting young adults. They dress differently, act differently, and teach differently than any authority they had ever had before or since.

For me this kind of teacher taught third grade at Thoreau Elementary School in Concord, Massachusetts. I met some of my best friends in this man’s class and hold these relationships with an even greater strength today than I did then. Third grade was a bonding experience for every eight-year-old simply because our teacher was actually cool.

Third grade was taught by Mr. Ghose, whose last name resembles a certain kind of phantom that eight-year-olds know to be fictitious, but are still tentatively afraid of. He was a passionate musician with an incredible sense of humor. He inspired us in ways I’m shocked we followed through on. We sang folk songs while he played the piano every morning for fifteen minutes and taught with a joke-telling delivery even George Carlin would be impressed with.

My elementary school held a lip sync competition every year. While a young boy in third grade my friends and I decided to enter the competition as a band called The Ghosts, which we defiantly stated was a name not based on our teacher’s last name. Though of course we named our lip sync band after our heroic, musical, humorous teacher. We memorized all the lyrics to Montell Jordan’s 1995 hit single “This is How We Do It,” a song so vague not even an eight-year-old could mistake it for something adult. We dressed in all white t-shirts like a couple of young regional actors portraying The Jets in the broadway musical West Side Story. And we brought the house down. Who doesn’t love a couple of suburban Massachusetts kids singing 1990’s R&B?

Our band was so popular we started doing everything as The Ghosts. We formed a kickball team called The Ghosts and took on all comers. We entered a spelling bee as The Ghosts. We even began calling our lunch table The Ghosts even though we were told we had to let other kids sit with us as well. Our band The Ghosts did everything except play instruments and write songs together.

After third grade The Ghosts broke up, with no hard feelings amongst anyone. Mr. Ghose formed his own funk band several years later called Bring Back Pluto, named after the celestial-planet-turned-moon and not another professor or teacher of his.

I still see many former members of The Ghosts to this day, though we all live at various Metropolitan cities throughout the country now and not only within the walls of our third grade classroom. This December over the holiday season I organized a trip together to see some local music while we all were visiting our families between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We went down to the Acton Jazz Cafe, a jazz bar one town over from our hometown where The Love Dogs headline almost every weekend. This trip was special though as we were excited to see the opening funk band Bring Back Pluto including our much older, but still seemingly young, third grade teacher Mr. Ghose.

We requested a cover of “This is How We Do It,” but unfortunately no one remembered any of the words.

(photo courtesy of Serglyn/