Total Pageviews

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And now to Mrs. Howe, fourth grade teacher, Nickerson, Kansas.

Oh, I promised you yesterday I would get to Mrs. Howe.  Maybe it was a promise more to myself than to you, but nonetheless it shall be fulfilled today.  I think I dreamed about that woman last night.  Woke up in  a cold sweat for some odd reason. Usually only do that if there is a vampire in the room.

Anyway, just picture me as a tender little child of 8 years old.  We had no Kindergarten in our small town of Nickerson, Kansas, so we started right off in first grade at age 5.  The first grade classroom was the largest and we surmised that a lot of kids went in there and never came out.  That teacher was Miss Doughno (however you spell it). So sweet and pushed us in the swing and was just the loveliest lady,

Then we went to second grade and there was Mrs. Breece. A very nice lady, but demanded we learn to spell and we must now start cursive and all kinds of stuff. She was so proud of her little charges. 

Third grade and on to Mrs. Holmes.  Ah, the woman had the smile of an angel! Skin as soft as rose petals.  She was big on hygiene.  Every morning we had to swear, under penalty of death, that we had washed our face, combed our hair, brushed our teeth and she made us hold out our hands for inspection and they had better be clean!  I loved that  woman with every fiber of my being.

And then fourth grade and I swear I break out in a cold sweat when I remember Mrs. Howe!  Mrs. Howe was the smallest of all my teachers. Also the most wrinkled, had the hardest eyes, the biggest ruler and walked on cat feet up and down the aisles between the desks.  Being the shortest kid in class I always had my desk right in the front.  Right under her hawk like stare. I did not mind that.  What kept me in mortal terror was when she started prowling the aisles when we were doing our work.  I never knew exactly where she was and was terrified to look.

Her favorite thing was to creep softly up behind me (us) and if my pencil was not moving, she turned that ruler on edge and fwacked me right on top of the head.  Ah, Sweet Jesus! That still brings stars to my eyes today.  That is the sharpest, piercing est pain in the whole world.  Try it some time on yourself. Be sure you are wearing a Depends.  I am pretty sure that qualifies today as child abuse.

Of course there was the "hold out your hand" one that was given for minor infractions, like breathing.  I could handle that as long as I held my hand palm up and the ruler was flat.  Did not like it when the ruler was on edge and my tiny little knuckles were the object of her attention.

Not everyone suffered her wrath.  She had her little pets.  These kids were luckily the prodigy of the wealthier farmers in town.  I learned very early in life that rich people could do no wrong, but if your mother was a cleaning lady you were doomed from the "git go".  Now to the highlight of the fourth grade!

Bathroom break at recess.  Enter Beth and her popcorn ball swinging loosely in a scarf.  Exit little me. Run for the playground.  Enter Mrs. Howe with Beth and a soggy popcorn ball.  Seems while I was already on the playground that popcorn ball fell in the stool.  Beth explained to Mrs. Howe that I had in a jealous rage over her having one and me not, I had grabbed it and thrown it in there. It was down hill from there.

First came the call to my mother.  Then the ruler on top of the head.  Then the principal and there were rumors he kept a rubber hose to beat you with.  I must apologize profusely to Beth, which I did and I looked her right in the eye and she flinched.  She knew the truth and so did I.

Back in those days report cards had a place on the back for "Teachers Comments" and then a place for the parent to sign.  I still remember what she wrote, "Louella does her work, but she does not play well with others."  I told momma I did not do that, but Mrs. Howe was a respected teacher.  Beth had a rich daddy.

Now, here is the best part, Karma.  Over Christmas vacation Mrs. Howe got a thorn in her large intestine.  For almost a week we did not know if she would even live.  We prayed incessantly for her both at the church and me at home.  I did not want her to die.  Just wanted her to like me.  To make a long story short, neither of the two things happened.

If there are any of Mrs. Howe's relatives still out there I would like to say to you, she was a very good teacher and I learned a lot from her tutelage.  That was a time when it was alright to know which side of the bread the butter was on.  I have long ago forgiven her, but never forgotten.

To Beth;  If I ever run across you I will give you a popcorn ball. Probably neither of us will have teeth enough to eat it, but it will be symbolic.  You probably don't even remember the incident and that is good.  I remember for both of us.

Every thing that happened inside those walls and since had made me the woman I am today.  It was a time of poverty, greed and survival.  It was a time when child abuse went on behind closed doors and when the adult in the situation was always right and the kids always suffered.  Lots of kids did without back then and I just thank God that this has all changed.

And to all the little kids at Nickerson, Kansas Elementary school, I got a lot more memories and today was fun!  I may write on some more of these memories. If you went to Nickerson back then drop me a line and we can compare notes. Tell me some of your experiences and we can light up this blog! Jerry, if you are still out there I lost all your emails you sent me way back then.  Lost your address and all. 

I sometimes have random insomnia so what I do is in my mind I walk the walk home from school to our little house. I remember the names of the people who lived in the houses. Then I remember the classmates.  They say you can never go home and they are right, but sometimes in the middle of the night I like to make a quick visit and it makes me realize that little Louella Bartholomew did indeed become a vital member of society and now can "play well with others!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I cant remeber back then well of course wasnt born back then butt had heard a lot of stuff of school stories back then. One lesson i did learn One money cant buy you love nor happiness and also you were born without money and when you pass you can't take it with you. As seen so many times before how other kids are jealous. When a rich family has kids where's the love and when you see a poor family you see lots of love and thats what makes a child jealous of the other.