My Grade Eight graduation picture – holding roses to be presented to the Principal.
I had just started fifth grade when I was called to the Principal’s office. Why? I searched my mind for a transgression. Nothing. On her desk I saw foolscap paper covered with my writing. The first week back to school my grade five teacher, Miss Clyde, asked us to write about our favorite sport. I wrote about what it felt like to be picked last for a baseball team.
In grade four I realized I couldn’t see words on the blackboard the way other students did. The only letter I could see on the eye chart was the one on the top. For nine years I had been functioning in a myopic fog. Eye glasses brought a new world into focus. I could see leaves on trees. Movies, which I thought was radio with blurry images, became pure magic. I could recognize people at a distance. I could find the ball when we played “Anti-Eye-Over”. But my eye-hand coordination never really improved. I had lost nine formative years of practice. Baseball, much as I loved it, just wasn’t my game.
My essay on” my favorite sport” passed from my teacher to the principal, Miss Larson. As a result. every day after school I went to her classroom and wrote. I wrote about my dog Scamp, my cat Minnie Jones, my pet homing pigeons, Alice and Frances. I wrote ghost stories, and fairy tales. I wrote about growing up. I wrote about everything and anything. Even then I was opinionated. Miss Larson would correct my work, make suggestions. She challenged me to think differently about the written word.
Nan Larson was an exceptional woman. She was our combined grade three and four teacher in our old cottage school. In grade four Miss Larson had us perform Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream. I was Puck. Eight and nine-year old students reciting Shakespeare and loving it.
The year I graduated from Grade 8 was also Nan Larson’s last year of teaching. She was retiring. For four year every day after class I had sat in her class room and wrote. I was thrilled to be chosen to deliver a farewell speech and present her with roses. Nan Larson gave me the rich legacy of the written word. I went on to earn my living writing for over twenty years.
As for Miss Clyde, the teacher who saw my writing potential back in 1945, she attended our High School’s One Hundred Years celebrations last summer, and asked if I was still writing.