Tender Teacher

Sharing stories about my personal and professional life as a teacher.

Archive for the ‘About ME’ Category

Sunday School

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Twinkle Twinkle little star (English) Lullaby ...

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Not a Sunday goes by without memories of Sunday School looming up in my head and dwelling there for a while.  In the beginning there was a ‘bring your friends evangelistic contest’ at a church, the Gilman Avenue Methodist, near our home, and my cousins from across the tracks were earning ‘points’.  I was barely five years old and I wanted to go soooo badly.  We went to mom for my permission.  After a lot of begging by all three of us my mom finally agreed that I could go with them.

Excitement bubbled inside me and I could hardly sit or stand still for two days, but I had no idea what Sunday School was.  Lora and Joan told me that you sang songs, listened to stories, said prayers, and took a penny for the offering, and that you put it in the offering plate.  Ruth, Lora and Joan’s, mother, my aunt, brought over to our house a couple of dresses that my cousins had outgrown.  Mom washed, starched, and ironed them, and I picked one out to wear.  She polished my only pair of shoes.  SO, I was all ready for Sunday School, tomorrow morning!

I felt beautiful in my pretty hand-me-down dress, shining shoes, and my best hair bow.  With two pennies in my fist, off we walked to Sunday School with Lora holding one hand and Joan holding the other.  They took me to my class which was in a little room, called the Nursery.  They said that I couldn’t be in the big room, called Primary with them, because you had to be six years old, and go to school before you got to go in there.  I was beginning to feel pretty scared and all alone, and then the teacher, who had comforting, friendly, smiling eyes took my hand and said to come on in, we would have lots of fun.  There were lots of little kids giggling and playing with toys, so it looked inviting.  I soon began to lose my fear, and feel more comfortable.

A bigger boy brought the offering plate around, a big, heavy, fancy, decorated, brown bowl, which was not at all like our dinner plates, which I was expecting to see, and I dropped my penny into it.  It jingled with the other pennies.  It felt good to give to God.  Then I thought of the other penny mom had given me to spend at Jackson’s Newsstand after Sunday School.  Anticipation of spending it felt good, too.

My next memory, and there are lots more to come, was when my Sunday School Teacher said that it was time for us to sing.  She asked if anyone remembered the song, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  I loved to sing, and I called out, “I do, I do!”  She said, “Would you please sing it for us?”

Oh!  This was great!  I began to sing, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Twinkle twinkle, little star, Twinkle, twinkle, little star”, repeating on and on.  The nice teacher took my little hand, looked smilingly  into my face, and said, “That was very good, thank you, you can sit down now.”  Somehow, I felt that I had done something wrong, but I didn’t have any idea what it was.  I, as you can see, have never forgotten that troubling feeling.

It was later after we sang, Jesus Loves Me, and the teacher sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to us, and we sang it all together, that I remembered there were more words to it.  Years and years after, by reliving this experience in my mind, time after time, I was able to put together what I had “done wrong”.  However, I always looked forward to going to Sunday School.

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Written by kjskjp

October 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

Burning Trash

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Corrugated cardboard

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One of my favorite chores when I was nine years old was burning trash.   Each day after the supper dishes were washed and dried I got to take the trash out back to the “burn spot” in the garden.  This spot was moved from time to time, because ashes were good for the garden.

First, I put the cans, glass, and other items that wouldn’t burn into the garbage can, then I meandered to the “burn spot”.   I felt proud that my parents trusted me to do this “grown-up” job, and I puffed up even bigger when a passer-by would say, “Does your parents allow you to burn trash?”

Now, of course,there were rules:  Come back in and tell us if it is windy before you set the fire.  Stand up-wind from a breeze.  Make sure no children are close by.  When you strike the match make sure it is far away from your dress or coat.  Don’t come back in until the fire is out.

I was, no doubt, good at following rules, and could be trusted, or my parents wouldn’t have given me this important chore at such a young age.  However, one afternoon, I almost lost my job, because of poor judgment.  A new, bubbly friend, Cathy, had moved in across the street.  She was in my fourth grade class.  Everyone loved her, because she was so much fun.  She came over when I was burning trash.  I didn’t think of her as a child, because after all, she was the same age as me.

When Cathy arrived I was feeding corrugated cardboard to the fire a little at a time, so the fire didn’t become too big.  She took a piece of torn cardboard and put just the end of it into the fire, and then showed me how you could suck the smoke through the rib openings.  She attempted to show me how to blow smoke rings.  This looked like so much fun, and since both my parents smoked I wasn’t afraid to have smoke in my mouth.  So, I tried it too, but I didn’t have much luck making any smoke rings either.  Soon, the cardboard was all burned up and she had to go home.  I stayed with the fire until it was completely out.

I carried the trash basket through the back door.  Entering the kitchen I asked.  “How do you blow smoke rings?”  There was an uncanny stillness in the air for a bit before my dad said, “Why do you want to know?”  I said, “I had trouble making the smoke turn into rings like you do.”  You could feel the eerie tension.  “You had cigarettes?”  “Oh, No,” and I went on, “Cathy showed me how you can suck smoke through the cardboard holes, but we couldn’t make the rings.”

Well, the “uncanny stillness” and “eerie tension”, changed quickly to an intense feeling of fear, and hot embarrassment  with one, Earth shattering word from my dad, “WHAT!”  Tears began to sting my eyes, and my heart was pounding.

Mom joined in with, “You could have burned your throat, or worse, burned your lungs!”  Through the blur of sixty years I also remember other terse comments:  I trusted you!  You could have died!  I just can’t believe you did that!  You know no children are allowed near when you burn trash!

Needless to say, I didn’t get to burn trash for a long time, and Cathy wasn’t so bubbly the next time I saw her, because she thought, “I told on her.”  Of course, I never “smoked” cardboard again.  You know, I still would like to burn our trash, but the burn laws won’t allow it.  It would be good for my garden.

Written by kjskjp

September 28, 2010 at 12:56 am

Bee Sting

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Stinger of a honey bee 1 minute after a bee sting

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Getting stung is something you never forget.   One hot, late summer afternoon in about 1947 when I was five years old, it started to rain.  It was one of those warm, steady rains with no excitement like thunder or lightening.  I ran into the house and asked mom if I could play in the rain.  Next thing I remember is running up and down the street, in front of our house, in the water that was running along the curb.  The splashing was so much fun, and the rain felt wonderful dripping from my hair, and running down my back.

Just when life couldn’t be better, it happened.  Doesn’t it always?  A hot, sharp pain shot from my foot up my leg.  I sat on the curb and looked at the bottom of my foot.  I thought I had been cut with glass or a sharp rock in the street.  There was no blood, but the pain was killing me.  I ran screaming and crying into the house, and through sobs managed to tell my dad that my foot had been cut.  He checked both my feet, and said that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.  Then it hurt worse and my sobbing became uncontrollable.  After a little bit he told me to go out on the back porch and sit, because I was so loud that he and mom couldn’t even talk.

Life was bad before, but now it was the pits.  I was broken hearted, because I felt no one cared about me.  Blinking back tears I tried to see what was hurting my extremely painful foot.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with it either, so feeling very upset I cried in long loud wails.  It seemed as if it were an eternity that I spent crying, looking, then crying again.  Just when I thought I couldn’t stand the searing, hot pain anymore, my dad called me into the house.

He sat me up on the kitchen table, and questioned me.  Exactly where was I when my foot started hurting, and what was I doing?  I told him that I was splashing in the water that was running along the curb.  He looked at me puzzled and concerned.  He gently wiggled my ankle, wiggled my toes, and wiggled my foot, evidently looking for a broken bone.  Then he said to point to where it hurt the worst.  I did, and he looked carefully, and suddenly said to mom, “She’s been stung by a honey bee!  It must have been carried away in the rain water!”  He got a knife and scraped the stinger out, and said, “It hurt you bad, but it killed itself when it left its stinger.  So, he got the worst of it!”

Mom got some baking soda from the cupboard, and made a paste with water.   Then as she put it on my foot she said, “OH my, it is swelling already.”  The paste felt cool and made the pain a little better, and the tears quit falling.   The next morning my foot was red and quite swollen.  It took time for the sting to get better.  I couldn’t wear my shoe for more than a week.  However, the worst of the “sting” was cured quickly with love.

Written by kjskjp

September 21, 2010 at 12:56 am

Forties: The Steam Locomotives

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Petticoat Junction

Image by Redgum via Flickr

My parents owned four small city lots on the west side of town in the flood district.  We lived two blocks west of the Muskingum River, and three blocks north of the Ohio River.  Our house sat on the northeast lot and faced Lord Street.  A water tower (almost like the one in Petticoat Junction) was located at the southwest corner of our land.  Next to our property on two sides were the railroad tracks.  A north south track crossed an east west track behind our house near this water tower. Beside our house, on the other side of the north south track, was a tie yard.  In this tie yard new railroad ties were stored until they were loaded into boxcars and transported to a facility where creosote was applied to preserve the railroad ties for between 25 and 50 years.  They were used to replace the old rotted ties.   My cousins lived in the house on the other side of the tie yard. After my father came home from World War II his first job was working in tie yards.  He unloaded these ties from the trucks that transported them from the saw mills, and later he loaded them into the boxcars.  It was a job for a very strong young man.

The  B & O steam locomotives could be heard for miles as they rumbled towards our home.  They came to a stop and filled their steam boilers with water.  Just behind the huge black engine was the coal car.  A railroad employee would shovel coal into the steam engine’s firebox, and the engine would sit there and power up.  It would huff and puff, and dense black smoke would roll up from the smoke stack.   Our house would shake, and tiny cinders and coal soot from the smoke would settle over everything nearby.  You could feel the heat from the engines if you were playing in our side yard, so we would usually run to the porch and watch from there until the train went on by.   We would often have black streaks, a mix of coal soot and sweat, smeared all over us, and cinders in our hair when we came inside from playing.  Sweeping our porches from top to bottom was a daily job.  Even though my mom knew the train schedules, sometimes a surprise train would be heard in the distance.  There would be a mad dash to yank all of our clothes from the clothes lines before the train arrived.  Coal soot would not wash or bleach out of light-colored clothes.  Our clothes and white sheets were forever a dingy gray if the train caught us by surprise.

There was always a little red caboose as the last car on the train.  Mom said that the men who worked on the train took turns sleeping in the caboose.  Often men in the caboose would wave to us.  The engineers would wave also, and pull the chain that would ring the bell.

I’m not sure of the exact year when the steam locomotives were replaced by the diesel-powered trains, but it was in the early to mid fifties.  They were much quieter and cleaner.  Eventually the water tower was torn down.  I’m sure that nearly everyone who lived near the “tracks” appreciated this change, but as a child I missed the excitement of the old smoke belching locomotive that drank from the water tower, and chugged the familiar loud, “Choo, Choo, Chooooo.”

Smoky, Tarantula Train Steam Locomotive, Ft. W...

Image by StevenM_61 via Flickrrived.

1) A Little Bit of Nothing

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North Carolina Sunset

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Today is one of those lazy days of summer, even though it is September the 8th.  The temperature will be in the 90’s again today, and the land is dry and parched.  It has been hot in most all of the eastern states from the north to the south of the US since mid June.  In Ohio where many of the schools are not air conditioned the students and teachers have been melting in the temperatures of 80’s and 90’s.  I remember days like that, so, I am happy today that I am sitting here in my air conditioned North Carolina home.

The past three years since I retired have flown by.   I truly miss the satisfaction of seeing children learn to turn on their own self control, and to be able to accomplish a lot more than they thought was ever possible.  I miss most of all seeing the “light bulb” of finally understanding concepts shine brightly in my children’s eyes.  However, teaching was on my mind twenty four hours a day (My dreams were even about teaching.), and because of political pressures the stress level built more and more each year, especially for dedicated teachers.  So, I’m fortunate to be able to give my time to my family, who were sorely neglected, during those 28 years that I gave totally, the year around, to education.  HEY, there’s even a little bit of time left for me.  I got a manicure and a pedicure for the first time a few weeks ago!  AND here I am enjoying blogging.

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