For second grade, the school district moved me from Center to Renton Elementary School. Mrs. T. was my teacher, and I learned to tell time. She used a wind-up, Big Ben face clock on her desk and taught us by moving the hands. She used to read from the Bible and pray first thing in the morning, but I didn't understand the old-fashioned words. I felt uncomfortable. I could not relate the words in the book she was reading to the personal faith my mother had taught me. This was 1958, so she also drilled us on what to do in case of a nuclear attack. "Everyone kneel under your desk and cover your head with your hands," she barked at us. She lived close by in the Renton community, and one day she complained about the paperboy walking across her lawn because he was ruining her grass. "I will turn you over to the Communists if you don't behave," she threatened us. I feared her. One time she cracked my knuckles with a brown wooden ruler for some offense I don't remember. Another time the classroom got very quiet, and, when I looked up, she was walking down the aisle toward my desk. I must have been concentrating on a book or paper when the rest of the class saw her look at me. She didn't say a word but reached under my chair and pulled my legs from where one had been crossed behind the other. She had warned me about this once or twice, but I guess I was in the habit of sitting that way and didn't realize I had done it again. I felt my face turn red, and I was humiliated.
Fourth grade was also spent in Renton School, and I had a
wonderful teacher named Mrs. M., another gray-haired lady who was
patient and warm. I loved her, and she was the only teacher to whom I
gave a Christmas present. I convinced my dad to buy her the beautiful
porcelain bowl I picked out at Woolworth's. White with painted flowers in red and blue, trimmed with gold around the
edges, the bowlwas worthy of a special dais in her china cabinet--in my opinion at least.
"Thank you very much, Roseann, for the lovely bowl. It is the perfect
size for my salads. Sincerely, Mrs. M.," her thank you note read. I
was worried that the paint would chip after exposure to vinegar and a
bit disappointed that she didn't preserve this bowl for display only,
but I did not say anything to her.