Friday, January 28, 2011

Miss German

1959 was the year of the Space Race and it was the year for me to spend in Miss German's second grade class.

Miss German was another one of Samuel Woodfill School's gender ambiguous teachers. There was no question that she was a middle-aged woman.  All thirty of us second graders were aware of that.
However, she wore dresses and skirts, and sported a man's Timex wrist watch. The one distinguishing feature about Miss Germa was the fact that she never shaved her legs.  All of us children marveled at the way her stockings flattened down the dense crop of grayish black leg hair.

At Christmas we would give our teachers some small gift each year. Usually a trinket that Mom bought.  Some one should have given Miss German a safety razor and a can of Barbasol. She needed to use it on her arms as well.

Miss German also wore a whistle all the time.  I think all of the teachers owned a whistle.  It was more effective than screaming at us little criminals.

There are a couple of things regarding Miss Germans class that have stayed with me, lo these many years.

First of all, I was tardy nearly every day.  I've never been a daytime person.  Getting up at seven in the morning to a cold bedroom was no treat. I put my clothes on while sitting on the floor in front of the heat vent.

Subsequently I was ridiculed by Miss German nearly every morning for being late or as she declared; tardy.  In fact a few years later, when I was in the fourth grade, I was pulled out of class by Miss German and made to stand in front of that years second grade class.  My sister was late to school and blamed me.

Miss German looked at me and declared, "See this boy?  He is always tardy.  He has made his sister late to school.  Do not grow up to be like him!"

As I recall if anyone came to school with a new pair of shoes, you were immediately singled out for her ritual. You were made to stand in a circle of children, while they looked at you and sang:

"Oh see his (or her) new shoes, his shiny new shoes.  They're made of soft leather for all kinds of weather, oh see his new shoes, his shiny new shoes."  How humiliating!

Miss German not only taught us spelling, math and reading, but also taught us most of the songs from the musical Oklahoma.

"Ducks and geese and pigs got to scurry, when I take you out in the surrey."   "There's a bright golden haze on the meadow. There's a bright golden haze on the meadow.  The corn is as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like it's climbing way up to the sky...Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day."  

We learned the song from the Rodgers and Hammerstien musical, Carousel, "When you walk through a storm hold you head up high and don't be afraid of the dark."  I've avoided walking through storms ever since.

I learned these 51 years ago and they are still stuck in my head!

That little blond girl from Kindergarten was in my class, but alas had lost interest in me. However she looked hot in her new bright blue cat-eye glasses.

She was in the Blue-bird reading group, which was the best. I was in the Red-bird group for readers that made it to the second Dick and Jane reader.

The Yellow-bird group was for the pathetic losers that were stuck on the first grade Dick and Jane book with no hope of advancement. I longed to be in the Bluebird group.  I think I finally made it.

Miss German was a hair-puller.  If you were a boy and did something she didn't like, such as being tardy, she pulled you to her desk by grabbing you by the hair.  I wised up and got a butch haircut, which I believe is called a buzz cut now.  The barber left a little growth of hair on the front of your head, so you could apply butch-wax to make it stand straight up.

My Dad owned a grocery store and I was under the mistaken impression my family was rich.  We weren't, but we were not poor.  One day he brought home about fifty cases of Coca-cola.

This was back when Coke came in those little six and a half ounce bottles.  He got a good deal and brought them home for storage.

I volunteered him to bring enough of them to class for my 7th birthday.  He also brought potato chips and some toy streamers.  The whole class had a great time, as they were all wound-up with a sugar buzz and had a time twirling the streamers, much like those little Chinese girls do in the Olympics.

I gave my very first musical performance in her class. I had received a Melodica for my birthday and played Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I still play this song on guitar.

Miss German was one of a kind.  About a dozen or so years ago I learned that she was in a nearby nursing home.

And whenever the residents got too noisy, she would stand up from her wheel-chair and shout, "Now class, I want you all to be quiet...right now!"  She would have blown her whistle is she still had it.

1 comment: said...

It can't actually work, I believe so.