Saturday, January 29, 2011

Miss Corman

As I recall, the third grade was uneventful.  Miss Madeline Corman was my teacher.  She seemed normal enough.  She wore womens clothing, including dresses and had no noticeable body hair.  She did not utilize humiliation or hair-pulling as a means of torture

She was the second teacher to allege that I was a day-dreamer.  Perhaps it would have helped if I was not seated by a window, which allowed a clear view of escape and the freedom to enjoy a nice sunny day.

During this year she introduced us to cursive writing, simple multiplication and division.

We improved our reading skill by thoroughly examining the life of a different family; Alice and Jerry.

Alice and Jerry were much like Dick and Jane, but less metropolitan.  Dick and Jane seemed to live in a subdivision in the Midwestern United States. Alice and Jerry lived out in the sticks.
Dick, Jane and Sally
And they didn't run or jump quite as much as Dick and Jane.  I don't recall if Alice and Jerry had a younger sibling or any pets. They had farm animals.   The scenery in their stories was much more woodsy and farm-like.  Their grammar and sentence was more sophisticated than that of Dick and Jane or even Sally.  I would like to say that it was fascinating to delve into the lives of these children, but in reality, they were rather dull.

This was the first time that I demonstrated my talent for music, which I did during Show and Tell one morning during class.  My parents bought me a toy melodica.  I was able to coax the tune Over The Rainbow out of it and played it for my class at show and tell.

I wonder if they have Show and Tell at today's elementary school classes? Show and Tell was sort of a cross between American Idol and Antiques Roadshow.

A kid would demonstrate a talent or more often bring in one of their treasures.

I recall any number of times taking to school my father's sabers and bayonet knives which he brought back from World War II for Show and Tell.

In this modern age a child doing this  would be suspended from school indefinitely and sent away for a psychological evaluation.  No one seemed to get excited back in 1960 about bringing weapons, such as a pen knife to school.

Each midday we were sent to the school's gymnasium for calesthenics and games. This was the year we learned to play Dodgeball.

For the uninitiated dodgeball is a game that teaches you to stay the heck out of the way.  It is played by choosing the biggest and meanest bully in the class.  His job is to throw a basketball at the other children.

He must throw this ball with the same speed and impact a major league baseball player utilizes in pitching to a major league batter.

The job of the other children is to line up at the opposite side of the gym, not unlike people in a firing squad. The ball is then hurled at them.

Their goal is to avoid being struck by this fast moving object. Those hit are eliminated from the game and are allowed to go to the school nurse and ice down their hematomas.  The game ends when all of the children have been injured.

There are variations of this game such as Smear the Queer or Cream the Creep in which one child is targeted as a mark due to that child's reputation.  The game taught us not just about bullies and their effect upon society but was a way to teach us about the danger of fast moving objects.

I recall Miss Corman as a nice lady with a kind disposition.  If she was angry, she didn't take it out on us. She left the music instruction up to Mrs. Reif, so we did not learn any show tunes this year.

She did complain, because my cursive handwriting was atrocious, which it still is, so I print when I write.  I tried my best, but just couldn't make all the curlicues of the letters or make them attach to each other.

I figured out by myself that when multiplying by 9, you just needed to know 1 x 9 up through 5 x 9. For 6 x 9 up to 9 x 9 all you had to do was reverse the numbers to arrive at the answer.

I think this was the first year for homework, which I rebelled against.  I spent seven hours a day at school and was a kid.  I wanted to go home, play and watch TV.  My objections went unnoticed.

As I recall some boy did infiltrate the girls toilet room this year.  Miss Corman took all of us down the hall on a tour of the girls room and the boys room, hoping this would eliminate our curiosity.  It was a brief but interesting field trip.

This was the year that I learned about being shaken down.  Lunch at the school cafeteria was 35 cents. One boy seemed to be lacking a nickel every day and would ask me for money.  Since I was a nice kid and trying to be a friend, I gave him a nickel.

So I only had 30 cents and ran up a debt at the cafeteria.  My Mother was told by our lunch lady about my shortfall and I had some explaining to do.  The kid that was taking advantage of my good nature was giving a stern talking to.  Today he is a dentist and overcharges people.

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