Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Observations on walks.  (1) The air is often perfumed with honeysuckle and other flowering bushes and trees.        (2) A grackle bathes in a pool of rain water. It does not fly away when I approach and pass by.                     (3) Mature oak trees are magnificent in winter, perhaps even more now in full array of leaves.        (4) I have four two-mile walks.  Which is my favorite?  The one I’m taking at the time.        (5) White clover blossoms are predominant on lawns and vacant lots.                 (6) A man has a lot next to his house, where he has planted a garden.  At the plot closest to the street he has planted corn.  The five rows of light green corn plants are beautiful with the red soil.        (7) Drivers greet me.  Men  raise a hand.  Women  add a little wave.        (8) Most dogs recognize me and don’t bark.  If they do, I greet them, “Hey, Bowser!”        (9) A squirrel in one movement slides up a tree, a liquid brown and silver.        (10) When I speak with people, I find myself saying, “Hey,” with a diphthong, the sounding moving to a long e.  My Southern is improving.

Listening.  G. I. Jukebox: Songs from World War II.  Compiled by Tony Nastelli.  Notes by Joseph F. Laredo, 1998, Hip-O Records.  The CD is a collection of eighteen songs, all of which made No. 1 on the Billboard Charts between 1941 and 1945.  It’s good Big Band music.  Laredo writes, “Popular music meant so very much to morale, and once a week, more serious concerns gave way to a burning curiosity over which selection had made it to the top of Your Hit Parade.        I knew only three songs: “Blues in the Night,” “As Time Goes By,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”  I was glad to hear “Mairzy Doats,” by the Merry Macs, a song that I heard adults talk about when I was growing up.        Featured artists include Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Jo Stafford, Dinah Shore, and Bing Crosby.      My favorites:  “Tangerine” (I like the abrupt Big Band ending), “There’ll Be a Hot Time int he Town of Berlin When the Yanks Go Marching In,” “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer,” “Daddy,” (would make a  companion piece to “Santa Baby”), “Candy,” (clever rhymes), and “Rum and Coca-Cola.”  It was a pleasure to hear Bing Crosby croon “I’ll Be Seeing You,” a song which Laredo notes as achieving first place ten times on the Hit Parade and making the charts 24 times!

A Letter Found in a Book Bought at a Used Book Store.  The letter is written in pencil on hotel stationery.  There is no date.  Is this a start for a short story or letter for someone to write?

Gilsey House

Broadway and 29th St.

S. Duncan, Mgr.

Thursday night

My dear Lillian,

     Owing to the fact that several people leave the cast when we leave N.Y., we are called for a rehearsal tomorrow at 11:30 – It is just my luck.

     Three new people, I think, are to be rehearsed both Wed. night and Thursday.  I go to Washington Sat. night to spend Sunday with father and mother, whom I have seen since November a year ago.  I have managed for (2) seats for you for Tuesday matinee.  I will send them to you if I don’t bring them to you on Monday in time to come over –

     The seeing of you and the being with you the other day, even for a few moments, was like a balm for my tortured soul – and the dear, sweet letter you wrote me is a treasure I will always preserve.  Altho I am doomed to forswear you, I shall never love anyone else but you!  Goodnight, sweet girl!

Yours faithfully,


Remembering Mrs. Pounds.  (Mrs. Dorothy Poston Pounds, Oct 21, 1921-April 26, 2012.)

For many years at South Smithfield Elementary School, Mrs. Pounds was the only fourth grade teacher.  I was in fourth grade 1957-1958,

She was not popular.  She had a formidable reputation.  She was tall, thin, strict, stern.  She had efficient discipline and instruction.  She ran a tight ship.

Her desk was at the back of the room so that we could not see her while we were doing seat work.  She wore ripple-soled shoes so that when she walked we did not know where she was.

Morning light from the wall of the west windows was clear, no warmth of sun.  There were few classroom decorations.  It was an abrupt change from lower grades, where teachers created colored, warm, cheerful room and were flexible about curriculum.  Mrs. Pounds followed the directed curriculum in all subjects, the day neatly divided into definite times for each subject.

The day began with her reading a Bible story.  Then we prayed the Lord’s Prayer.  Then we stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  The succession of subjects followed.

We did not socialize during class time.  We were not allowed to talk during lunch.  After morning and afternoon recess, when we were warm from activity, we drank warm water from the outdoor water fountain.  Never did we drink cooled water from the indoor fountain, as the fifth and sixth graders did.  We did not have parties, since she believed that parties were for babies.

We learned that she had eyes in the back of her head.  While she wrote sentences on the blackboard, sentences we were to copy and to fill in the blanks, she would from time to time step aside, without turning toward the class and write at the side of the board, “RECESS” and the names of students who were whispering or not doing the work.  Listed students lost recess privileges.

She was assiduous in instruction.  Day after day, there was group, metronomic recitation of multiplication tables, until we knew them.  Instruction was organized: text were read, notes were copied from the blackboard, exercises in workbooks were completed and answers checked.  School was our work, and she made us know so.

Praise was a quiet, “That’s right.”

One day I became sick and put my head down on my desk.  She was immediately beside me, saying quietly, “Would you like to go to the office and call your mother to come for you?”  When I returned to tell her Mom was on her way, Mrs. Pounds dismissed me to go to the front door and wait.  “Go home, rest, get well.  Come back as soon as you can.”  No gushing, no sweetness, no excitement.  This is what you must do now.

Some said she was mean.  She wasn’t mean.  Some said she was dour.  She was not dour, though she rarely smiled.

A student in the class the year after mine told her mother in later years that Mrs. Pounds was the most fair teacher she had had.  She was fair.  We were treated as responsible people with work to do and things to learn, and our learning was under her strict control and unfailing attention.  We were pupils.  She was teacher, not friend, not mother.

It could have ended there, but it did not.  She and my mother became friends, and when my mother died, I was teaching in Colorado.  Shesent me a sympathy card, and thereafter, she often sent gifts and greetings at unexpected times and always at the beginning of a school year.  When I visited in North Carolina, I stopped by her house for visits.  I learned about her life apart from her work as teacher.  She loved her family.  She loved her church.  In talking about her career, she was never negative about any situation, any colleague, any student, any principal.  She was thus the most professional teacher  I have known.

She taught fourth grade for forty-four years.  Rest in peace, Dot Pounds.

Thanks for reading.  I hope your week will be good.


About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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