Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Charlotte Ballard – Polly Lovett – Ruth Priddy—English

Bruce McDonald shared with me that he recalled his EHHS English teachers as being remarkably good; they were, Mrs. Dyer, Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Priddy.

That got me to thinking about my own lineup of English teachers, only one of whom I shared with Bruce—Mrs. Ruth Priddy. I must admit that English classes and English teachers were not my favorites. Although I did pretty well in the classes, I always seemed to struggle a bit more in them than in other subjects. Not until much later in life did the art of sentence and thought construction begin to interest me. And while banging out some words isn’t much of a chore these days, I still tend to get things out of order sometimes.

My first English teacher was a fearsome vision, Lillie B. Stokes, at Richland Jr. Mrs. Stokes was also my homeroom teacher so, I got a double dose of her daily, for a year. I don’t recall much about her class, but I clearly recall her admonition on opening day of 7th grade: “If you cannot behave yourselves, we will try to reason with you at this end (pointing to her head), and if that doesn’t work, we will go to work on the other end.”

Now, while I’m pleased to report that she never found a reason, to “reason” with my other end, I just don’t recall much about her class. Mrs. Stokes was of my grandparents’ generation, born about 1894, and was a stark example of how that earlier generation viewed dealing with miscreant children. I don’t know how it was in other 7th grades around the area, but I do recall no fewer than 4 other teachers in my school threatening to bust my butt or the butts of others during that first year in Jr. Hi. I think I’ll deal with that topic in a separate posting.

At Meadowbrook, English for me, meant Mrs. Jane Sheets. I don’t have a picture of her, but clearly recall her as a slight woman with a constantly dour expression on her face. I don’t recall feeling particularly threatened by her, but there were a number of other teachers at Meadowbrook who did represent an potentially painful threat to many young East Side butts; coaches Bill Blocker, Twain Morrow, and shop teachers, Creel Phillips, and a Wayne? Hampton, all stood ready to dispense summary retribution. As for Mrs. Sheets’ classes, about all I recall of them was a seemingly endless struggle to correctly diagram sentences which didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time.

At EHHS, English for me meant Mrs. Ballard, Mrs. Lovett, and Mrs. Priddy. By that time I had learned that negotiating for higher grades was possible…except for Mrs. Ballard and Mrs. Priddy, both of whom were quite rigid. Mrs. Ballard was a little gruff, where Mrs. Priddy was one of those seemingly nice ladies who would butcher my work with a smile on her face. Had a couple of those in college also and never did really understand their game. Math and science was more my thing.

My favorite of the 3 EHHS teachers was Mrs. Polly Lovett who was not only a very nice lady, she was also negotiable. Bless her heart. I do wish I had been a better student, or at least had gained a better appreciation of the effective use of the English language at an earlier age.

My 1st grade Ohio teacher, Miss Matilda Saunders is shown at right…doesn’t she look like one of the Our Gang teachers, except Miss Crabtree, of course. Miss Saunders was at least as old as Mrs. Stokes, a circa 1894 woman, maybe even older. She was as stern as she looks in this picture, but she was also very patient and good enough as a 1st grade teacher to get me off to a good start. When I came to Texas for 2nd grade, the Dallas school suggested to my parents that I skip 2nd and go directly into the 3rd grade. My parents wisely declined, thinking that I would do better over the long haul by sticking with my own age group through school. They were right.

Adios, seriously!

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