David Graham social studies Bear Pause Upper School

David Graham ‘85 teaches social studies and serves as a co-advisor to Model UN at Blake. When his family is not trying to figure out what their two dogs are thinking, you might catch him daydreaming about Grand Marais’ World’s Best Donuts. 

Q: It’s been said that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. What happened during your 15 minutes?
A: In the 1990 U.S. Senate campaign I was the first driver for the green Wellstone bus. On the way to the United Auto Workers hall near the Ford plant, I hit the railroad crossing a bit aggressively throwing Senator Wellstone and Governor Perpich off their seats. The bus did make it but needed new brakes and a dump truck engine in the first couple of months. I did get to appear as the driver in the “Fast Paced Paul” ad that became nationally famous.

Q: What book has influenced you greatly? How?
A: Too hard to choose one. “Wump World” by Bill Peet. I loved the secret world of an unknown animal. The book’s ability to question human progress and promote environmental protection has always stuck with me. In the last 10 years, reading “Walking with the Wind” by John Lewis has proved to be a continual inspiration.

Q: What are your three favorite smells?
A: A puppy’s paws; State Fair mini donuts; Lake Superior air

Q: I was once mistaken for…
A: David Spade and Michael Olson ‘01 — based on stage persona, I prefer Michael Olson.

Q: What story does your family always tell about you?
A: That I had a meltdown in the Uptown Arby’s drive thru while trying to use coupons to order for the whole family. They all believe that I have a fear of drive thrus. 

Q: Who is your hero?
A: I have many. Along with my parents, I would say my 1985 classmate Tim Case, who was diagnosed with cancer during our junior year. He taught me about fortitude, modesty, forgiveness, grace and realizing that we all have unknown strengths.

Q: What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
A: Again, too hard to choose one. My first concert was the Clash in 1982, which is hard to top.  But the 1986 Amnesty International concert in Chicago featured U2, The Police, Peter Gabriel, the Neville Brothers, et al. was amazing.

Q: What's your favorite family tradition?
A: On Christmas morning Santa leaves a book at the end of everyone’s bed. I grew up with it and continued it with our children.    

Q: What is the best gift you have been given?
A: When I was turning 9, my mom rejected my birthday list as “too boring,” so I added “a real puppy” to it. The next week we headed to the Human Society in Golden Valley.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Campaign buttons. They’re fun. I have one from Lincoln’s 1860 campaign, which is a highlight.