Each year that February 14th pops around brings back memories of my early years in scholastic learning. Saint Valentine’s Day was a joy for some and probably misery for others in my class as it was custom for classmates to give cards to their best friends. The most popular girls and boys would receive a desk full of cards while others would receive few and God Forbid one or two perhaps getting none at all. Actually the teacher often gave each student in her class a card to be sure at least every student would receive a card.
While on the subject of elementary schooling, I remember sadly an episode that involved a new student in class. The teacher read us a story about Black Sambo. As I recall it gave some moral lesson but it was hurtful to this student who was black himself and he resented it.
In the 6th grade I was mortified when my teacher Miss McL …. had me stay in class, head down on my arms, while the others went out to play. This took place for a week with no explanation whatsoever. Finally on Friday she told me why. Apparently our student teacher had been to a movie with a young lady friend on a date. Miss McL … had instructed that a difficult test was scheduled for Monday and all students should spend time studying for it over the weekend. I was accused of dating a young lady and she told me in no uncertain terms that I was much too young to date. I denied it and she said I was seen. No matter that I got a good mark on the test. No matter that the student teacher was smirking with glee. Which brings me to the scene of the movie.
My brothers had taken me to see Black Beauty and as we left the parking lot and was purchasing tickets at the entrance, a car pulled up and this cute little girl got out and stood behind me. Maybe she was scared or whatever but followed us into the theater and sat down next to me as it was the last seat off the isle. During the movie she started to cry and her sniffles prompted me to lend her my handkerchief. I told her she could keep it when she wanted to return it to me. For several minutes there was giggling behind us somewhere close. Anyway, my brother asked me to go out and buy some candy which I did and the girl followed me and went to the ladies room. She came out as I was buying the candy and waited for me and we went back to our seats. A little later I was into the movie and felt this soft hair on my cheek. She had fallen asleep and laid her head on my shoulder. With the movie ending, lights came on and she awoke. We said how great the movie was and it was too bad she went to sleep but I did not want to wake her. We left the theater. My brothers said they would pick me up at the entrance and left to get the car. Meanwhile her mother stopped at the entrance and picked up her daughter.
The culprit of course was the student teacher. And my own punishment ended with a slap in the face by a girl I was fond of at the time as the story unfolded due to glued-in-ears at the door. But that lasted only a week or so and we were again friends.
Years later we met and Miss McL… (she never married) said she was most disappointed in me that I lied to her and refused to confess the obvious truth. I told her to remember the class where a story was to be repeated by each student in turn and by the time it passed the ears of some 26 students, the story was unrecognizable. “Oh, how you wiggle your way out of things.” We parted never to see each other again. Perhaps she realized the pangs of life she gave me.
I never told my parents until years later about this incident because I really found Miss McL … a wonderful teacher. My mom said she would have definitely gone to school about it had she known so it was a good thing I did not.