Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ode to Mrs. Taylor

Subtitle:  That Special Teacher

When did you first attend school?  Kindergarten or First Grade?

What was your first teacher like?  Was your first teacher male or female?  If your first teacher was female, did she have a high-pitched, squeeky voice?  Were they young or middle-adged?  Did they hand out hugs like they were candy?  Did they have a great smile?  Wasn't it wonderful to find someone who wasn't your Mom but still made you feel special?  Did that make you feel like all of humanity was beautiful?

Here it is, about 43 years later and I still remember my First Grade (and first) Teacher, Mrs. Taylor.  It was 1969-1970 in San Antonio, TX at the Colonies North Elementary School.  The tired (and perhaps bitter), old crone was near retirement age.  Even my mother remembers Mrs. Taylor as being old.

We ploded through the year with each lesson.  Here are a few highlights:
  1. Mrs. Taylor was upset because I was daydreaming alot.  So she talked to my Mom about it.  I spent the next 14 years supressing any creative thoughts.  By the way, I wasn't daydreaming
  2. She also thought that my daydreaming reflected marital problems at home.  My Mother was a little upset at that insinuation.  And again, I wasn't daydreaming.  And where did she get that kind of idea?
  3. She never lead any of the group activities with other classes (e.g. learning to sing Bingo or Row, Row, Row your boat).
  4. Mrs. Taylor returned from the Principal's Office one time to find us accusing each ofther of having cooties.  She made us stand silently with our noses to the wall for ten minutes.  No, I did not have cooties.
  5. She once commented on handling fear by relating that, "During the last thunderstorm, I saw a shadow moving back and forth outside the front window.  So I grabbed a gun and took my dog out the door to see who was there.  It was just a bush blowing in the wind."
  6. And Mrs. Taylor enforced discipline.  She spanked me once for doing something improper.  She never got around to telling me what I did wrong, but she paddled me for it.
It is a little unfair to mention all these things without trying to walk a mile in her shoes.  Mrs. Taylor was at least 65 years old.  Working backwords; she was born 1904, graduated high school in 1922, and graduated college in 1926.

She saw WWI, WWII, Korea, and suffered through the Stock Market Crash and the subsequent Great Depression.  Mrs. Taylor weathered all these hardships and they probably influenced her attitudes and behaviors.  If she was 60 years old, the timing of these events would be even worse.

She was a widow.  But no one thought to ask her for how long.  What was he like?  Did they have any children?  How did she adjust to life after his death?  

And was Mrs. Taylor raised in a classical Catholic School? Did her knuckles get whacked? Was she upset that she couldn't whack the knuckles of Public School Children?

These are questions that will never have answers.

Well, I guess half a mile is long enough.  Really, the evidence points to someone who automatically assumed the worst in people.  And they let her teach First Graders.

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