Thursday, June 17, 2010

Miss Arabella Odell


During our time at EHHS Miss Odell, as she was known to us, was effectively the Dean of Girls even though her title was Senior Counselor. I don’t know how you might have seen Miss Odell, but since I had little reason to interact with her, my impressions were limited to a few brief exchanges. From those exchanges I’ve believed her all these years to have been something of a crusty old woman.

In 1963, Miss Odell was only 2-years older than we are now in 2010...somehow she doesn't seem quite so old from today's perspective. She passed away in 1985 at the age of 89.

Recently, I ran across a good site being run by a member of the 1959 Handley HS class. Many of our teachers were transfers from the old HHS and one of those HHS ’59 graduates recalled Miss Odell in a way that I never saw her.

“One of the things that impressed me the most about our HHS education was the professionalism of our senior English teacher, Miss Odell. Thanks to her I was able to write well enough to pass college classes. Thank You, Miss Odell, for teaching us to write a term paper properly. Do you remember memorizing a hundred lines of poetry? What I remember the most about her was how she taught us Shakespeare. I think it was MACBETH or something like that, and she would quote a passage from memory, turn around, walk to her desk, and about 30 seconds later the bell would ring to end class. She was some teacher; really, more like a college professor. She inspired me toward a teaching career.” (Richard Clark HHS ’59)

I stand corrected. (Gus).  Below is the dedication page for the 1942 Handley High School yearbook.



Paul S. said...

Gus, I recall Miss Odell about the same way you do as a prickly old woman. In a senior class meeting Miss Odell filibustered our choice of a class song. We voted for "Days of Wine and Roses" and Miss Odell was having none of it.

Mr. Sills had taught us a bit about parliamentary procedure in his government classes and introduced us to "Robert's Rules of Order" so I interrupted Miss Odell to ask if we were using RRO to govern our meeting, to which she said, yes. So, I moved the previous question, which was a parliamentary equivalent to saying "shut up" and vote on the issue at hand...Days of Wine, etc. or Miss Odell's favorite, Climb Every Mountain.

Miss Odell looked as though I had doused her with cold water and told me to sit down, thus announcing I suppose, that she had suspended RRO in this case. For me, it was an early introduction that rules and fair play can be easily brushed aside by anyone in a position of situational authority who finds rules and fair play inconvenient for their immediate purposes.

When "Animal House" came out years later, I understood perfectly Dean Wormer's "double secret probation." Paul S.

Anonymous said...

Miss Odell...the English credit I needed to graduate with you guys, she said ok less than one hour before I got my diploma that night. LOL. She well knew what sort of aggravation I was. She loved my Mom though...Mom was a valedictorian that Miss Odell had taught. Turned out, much later I discovered when tested in college, I am very dyslexic. Meaning creative. Gee, I was not dumb, only because there is a name for me...cheers. And still took up valuable engineers time. Sure hope it does not come to a nuclear implosion as a fix, for some frightening methane reasons. I do lose some sleep trying to figure out how to fix this...same as 100's of k's of other "chatter".