The other day at the stop sign on Broadway, my grandsons and I were waiting to turn left onto Main Street, as the warm afternoon air invited open windows, my 10-year-old grandson, who called shotgun earlier, exclaimed “Look at that really cool car over there!” I answered, “That’s Lamar; he is a car buff who found a great job which allows him to buy cool cars through his business.”
Continuing, I said to my grandson, “Mr. Fairchild taught your grandmother Kelly to drive when at El Dorado and your dad too. And as things look he will probably have you and your brother sometime soon.”
Completely impressed with my modest generational history lesson, my grandson asked, “Do you think he will have an even cooler car then?”
Lamar Fairchild was my friend. He had been through a lot of life events most of us dread. Having lost a wife, Lynn, and then son, Mark, Lamar journeyed on. He taught a lot of subjects at El Dorado High. One of my favorite subjects in my junior year at El Dorado was English credits to study the “The Occult” — séances, haunted houses, plant and prayer, weekly reports on ghost stories. We visited haunted houses in Kelsey and Coloma. From a 16-year-old boy’s perspective, this was a very fun class. Lamar said he enjoyed that course up to the time a string of dead chickens was across his front door on two different occasions, along with an umpteen number of death phone calls. He smiled when talking about this shared experience.
As the driver education teacher at El Dorado he started “Friday Night Live,” a once a month dance event where us high school kids could congregate safely. He was in the forefront of what is known now as “Sober Gradation,” where seniors could enjoy themselves graduation night — all night they played then stayed at the gyms of El Dorado. While these events may sound simple, they weren’t. School administrators, teachers, parents and the community needed to buy in, and so too us kids, and many depended on Lamar to make it happen.
Lamar taught both Kelly and I English (don’t laugh). He taught our sons English and health. Lamar played basketball in college. He also tried the thankless job of basketball coach, then, became a pretty good referee. Those who attend El Dorado High School’s football games will miss his familiar play-by-play voice. When the state privatized student driving, Lamar saw an opportunity to buy really cool cars to drive around all day; he opened “Fairchild’s Driving School.” Generations of us and our kids went through this gentle man’s tutor.
All of us who knew Lamar, or Mr. Fairchild, will miss his smile and his largess will to give to others. While I have heard his voice turn stern a time or two, I do not recall having seen him angered. He rolled through the streets of Placerville for 40 years with his really cool cars while showing us how to roll with what life throws at us. Thanks big guy, from a student and a friend.