28 August 2011

Miss Hill

     I went to kindergarten in 1955.  Yes, I'm a baby boomer, and our class of 52 kids which was just the morning class, certainly reflects that.  Can you imagine?!  Our little town barely knew what to do with the explosion of kids.  They couldn't build schools fast enough.  
     Our teacher, Miss Hill, (that's her, second from the left) was about 6' tall and rail thin.  She was stern, but loved us all.  We knew that, in spite of the fact she said she'd 'grind us up in the meat grinder' or 'throw us away in the garbage can' when she was mad.  I was lucky enough to have her babysit my brothers and me when I was younger but once she became my teacher (for both kindergarten and 1st grade), our relationship changed.  I wasn't her favorite anymore.  Well, at least not in the classroom.  She would whisper to me that I was still her favorite but that was our secret.  It was a great secret.
     Miss Hill died while I was in high school.  I don't remember why.  She never married.  The school erected a plaque on the playground, honoring her and her service to all those kids through the years.  As a teenager, when we were bored, my friends and I would go to the playground and swing on the swings, go across the monkey bars, acting all cool but secretly wishing we were little again.  I would always find her plaque and trail my fingers across the raised letters, remembering her and how special she had made me feel.
     Sometime during the later decades, the school population dropped, the needs of the town changed, people moved away from the sleepy little bedroom community and several schools were razed to make way for parks or just empty space. Both my elementary and junior high schools were leveled.  
     About five years ago we happened to be nearby and so, impulsively, I took my daughter on a mini-tour of where I grew up.  We drove to where the school had been and I saw the park it had become.  We walked the path surrounding a huge grassy expanse and I looked.  I looked for the plaque.  Surely it would have been saved and put into a place of prominence.  But it was no where to be found.  It made me quite sad.  I hope that it's displayed somewhere else; that people see it and think, just for a moment, "That Miss Hill must have been SOME teacher."

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I am curious about everything, all the time. Sometimes it's exhausting. (I even wonder WHY I wonder.) It would be so much easier to not be asking "Why?" all the time.