Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Miss Bohn

I had the pleasure of being in Virginia "Ginny" Bohn's class for two years.  This was another one of those split classes of Fifth grade and Sixth grade.  There was no doubt about it Miss Bohn was my favorite teacher.

She was a fairly attractive middle-aged woman that had a hint of gray hair.  The group of boys that I pal'd around with gave her the royal treatment.  We'd pull her chair out for her, we'd carry her lunch tray and invite her to eat lunch in the cafeteria with us.

I do not recall her once getting angry at the class.  It was a great couple of years, as she was my Fifth and Sixth grade teacher.

She tried to sing with us, but claimed she ruined her voice screaming at kids. She never raised her voice at us.

She would take us to the gym and teach us to square dance. She had a record collection of New England square dance folk songs she would play.  Although it wasn't in our curriculum she taught us to speak a few words and phrases in Spanish.

She also spent time reading to us a collection of wonderful books I will never forget such as Snow Treasure, A Wrinkle in Time, The Jungle Book and a book called Attack on Pearl Harbor, which was about children that lived through that day.

Woodfill School celebrated May Day each year.  The May Pole Dance was done by the girls in our class.  They would all dress up in white blouses and blue skirts and dance around a tall pole that was strung with long white and blue streamers.

The girls would dance and skip with each holding a streamer. Eventually weaving the streamers around that pole in a basket design.

The event included a Sousa marching song, which I thought was great because it was the same song they used to advertise Hudepohl Beer.  One of the mothers of a classmate had a beautiful voice and she would always sing for us.  The odd thing was she would do this by standing on the schools roof.

I recall several tragic events from this year.  The school had a large room in the center that was turned into a library.  We went to the library twice a week and were allowed to borrow a book.

One Friday afternoon I was in the library reading a book.  It must have been around one o'clock.  All of a sudden the schools public address system came on.  The principal, Sam King, had placed a radio next to the microphone.  We heard the voice of Walter Cronkite, the news man, say, "The President of the United States has been shot."

I was stunned.  We had been studying American history and the Civil War.  We had learned about President Lincoln's assassination.

I remember thinking, "This can't be happening! This is 1963 and we are so much more civilized than people were one-hundred years ago."

Miss Bohn came and gathered us back into her room, just as Cronkite announced, "The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy is dead."  All of the teachers and some of the students were in tears. Within a few minutes Mr. King announced that school was dismissed.

My grandmother that I called Dandy had moved in with us and took over Julianne's bedroom.  In the summer of 1963 my Uncle Clyde, her son, had died at age 53 or 54 from lung cancer.

My Mom's sister's husband, Uncle George passed away in August of September of that year.
While Dandy was still in mourning for Clyde she became ill.  I never knew what was wrong with her, but I suspect it was colon cancer.

She lived long enough to see the Kennedy funeral and she died in December of 1963.  I came home from school and saw her death certificate on to off the television.  The shock hit me like a ton of bricks.

In 1963 we were allowed to have Christmas parties in school.  The classroom was decorated and we sang Christmas carols.  We had two girls in this class that were sisters named Esther and Martha.

Their parents were Jehovah Witnesses and refused to let these girls participate in the party. The girls were made to stand in the hall outside the classroom door.  They looked through the window as tears fell down their cheeks. My Lord, that was heartbreaking.

I made it through the winter, despite all the homework of long division, multiplication, fractions and addition of rows upon rows of numbers.  I learned about history, geography and memorized the capitols of each state. I memorized the Preamble to the Constitution and some of the Declaration of Independence.

We learned how to diagram a sentence, the use of verbs and adverbs and how not to dangle our participles.

Summer eventually arrived.

And though I was very fond of Miss Bohn, I was sure glad to be on summer break.

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