Stephenson Tales


Old ClassroomBoth of my parents were teachers. Dad was a professor of history at the University of Michigan, and Mom had been an elementary school teacher--so we boys grew up learning a lot of things that our comperes did not--living, as we did, in a fairly low class neighborhood. Most of the parents of my school mates not only had not gone to college, but few had even finished high school. Orlando was Dad's pride, scholastically. I was something of a disappointment, in a way--but, in spite of, my less-than-Orlando brain I was taught to read long before I ever went to school. Mom could not HELP being a teacher--and I was reading the newspapers when I was in kindergarten. At that time no teaching of reading was initiated until the first grade, but when the teacher wheeled out the reading books that had thrilling plots such as, "Mama sees the kitty. The kitty sees Mamma. Do you see the kitty? I see Mamma. I see the kitty, etc." Well, needless to say such hair raising text did not hold my interest. SO: One day while my classmates were seeing kitties and Mammas, I propped my book up in front of me on my desk and pulled out a tiny lead model car and was having a circle race in the fold of my book. Gradually I became aware that it was very quiet in the room and that out of the corner of my eye, I could see two feet beside the legs of my desk. I looked up into a very stern-faced teacher, she said, "Give me that!" Smart mouth Jim Bob continued to look at her. She repeated her terse request. I said, "How do you get that way?" Now, as I recall, it was just about the end of the school day, so I was not sent to the principal (a lovely old lady--almost forty-named Miss Hedrick). I raced home as usual--up Fourth Street one model carsblock, left on Madison and into the side door of the house. I had no more than got into the house than the phone rang. My heart sank as I was sure what the call was about (our phone number was 8525). My mother answered the phone and she cocked her eyes around at me after the caller spoke, and muttered to me, "Stay here." Then during the silence which followed I saw her begin to smile silently. "He did" "Really" "Well, (giggle) I'll speak to him (giggle again) about it. Yes--I'll (LAUGH OUT LOUD) take care of it." She hung up the phone and began hooting with laughter. I was stunned and immensely relieved to see her reaction to my sins. When she pulled herself together enough to speak, she said, "Jim Bob, you really (guffaw, guffaw) must not speak to the teacher that way." That is all I remember of the adventure. I do not recall having to apologize to her or being punished--except that I was advised to leave my toy cars at home. The final episode of the telephone conversation I learned later when she she was telling someone about her conversation with the teacher. Realizing that she had made a failure of the reprimand, the teacher said to my mother, just before she hung up, "WELL! I can see how HE gets THAT WAY!"

© Jim Bob Stephenson 1992

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