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Towson Times

A while back 60 Minutes did a piece on Meryl Streep. When she was born I was 25. This mention is added only to insist that what follows may not be suitable for anyone under the age of 60. Unless these are history buffs. The era of which I write was one when the word “gay” meant happy, when the N-word was still the N word, when the U.S. had just entered World War II.

Towson was a town eight miles from Baltimore Maryland. Population 400, home to Black and Decker, Bendix, and the Maryland State Teachers College. That was where I went to school in the first four grades - no kindergarten.

Prior to the 60 Minutes Meryl Streep piece, a small gathering had dinner at the Arrowleaf Bistro to bid Mary Thompson a fare-thee-well. She was moving to Bend and was one of our oldest friends in the valley. Oldest in terms of years known, not her own personal chronology. There were five of us, and when the subject of “Permanent Records” came up it unleashed tales of our varied grade school adventures, misadventures, awards and demerits.

One thing that came up was Ms. Gloria’s revelation that she was a Hall Monitor in fourth grade. Leah wanted to know what that was and we were all stumped a moment or two to describe the duties, then Gloria offered that she got the job because she was the tallest in her class. Gloria? Tallest?

Joanie, who grew up in Westchesta Couny, New Yawk had similar tales to tell and the upshot of all these memories appeared to flip some cerebral switches among us all, remembering names from the past and the people who owned them, as well as various exploits.

The school I went to was the “Normal School,” or training ground for teachers. It was also a school for what were called gifted children, something I did not know until third grade at which time I ragged my four-years-older brother about my being smarter than he was. He, in retort, kicked my ass numerous times.

The school got an endowment from a rich lady name of Lida Lee Tall and thus did it go from Normal School to Lida Lee Tall School. It was very different: Instead of PTA it had TiPayChee which was an acronym for Teachers, Parents and Children. We did not have assemblies, we had convocations. All very pretentious for a state institution.

All this leads to another of my misdeeds which is probably on my permanent record. Being gifted, we had various activities to hone our giftitude. This one was a matter of interpretive dancing - the music played and we interpreted through bodily movement. There was a catch, because we were divided into food groups; some were various vegetables, meats, slices of bread and these had to interpret how our particuclar comestible would dance to the music. The music was Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King.”

I was a fried egg. We kids had to make our own costumes in class, cutting huge slices of cardboard and coloring them accordingly in our best third grade poster painting talents. I’d guess there were about five of us who were fried eggs, and all but one put the yolk of the egg dead center in the white. All but one. My yolk was stationed at about four o’ clock on the white circle. The teacher, Mrs. Hill demanded to know why I had done such a thing counter to instructions. In my innocence I told her that my mother’s fried eggs never had the yolk in the center.

Well this engendered another note to my mom, after whose death I found a collection. The note for THIS miscreance was that I was following a path of nonconformity, and causing her difficulty. Would Dear Old Mom please explain why it was necessary to do as I was told.

Nazi Bitch!

What continues to impress me is how a simple anecdote can summon up names and faces from eons ago. Like my teacher in first and second grade, whom I loved. Her name was Miss Grogan and she had freckles on her chest.


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