|Me, 1951 - about to leave for a two week summer vacation "in the country" with my Aunt Mildred and her family and my little buddy "Ducky" Vance - Photo taken on Washington Avenue, Downingtown, Pennsylvania|
And we return to those days of yesteryear (sounds like the old "Long Ranger" screed doesn't it?) and visit the continuing adventures of The Wimpy Kid (that would be me).
Now let's see, where did we leave off? Ah yes . . . . . . the year was 1948 and I was entering first grade, or trying to once I got past the bully who kept pushing me to the ground outside the East Ward elementary school.
You know, it is very interesting that I remember clearly all my elementary school teachers except fourth grade.
1st grade: Mrs. Warren
2nd grade: Miss Sara Way
3rd grade: Miss Elizabeth Ezrah
4th grade: Miss Powell (I think)
5th grade: Mrs. Schollenberger
6th grade: Mrs. Rhoda Yost
Ah, first grade. Mrs. Warren.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Mrs. Warren. No iPhone or digital cameras back in this black and white days. But oh do I ever remember MRS. WARREN.
|Hope Emerson - the actress who reminded me of my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Warren - could be sisters!!!!|
She was a big woman. Big bones. Sharp, hawk-like features. Dark hair with a "just a touch" of gray. Glasses. Shiny, steely, wire rimmed glasses.
Baritone voice. And . . . . . . the one feature of Mrs. Warren I will never forget . . . . she wore those "sensible", solid, women's prison warden shoes. Oh how I remember those shoes.
I remember seeing Hope Emerson in the 1950 movie "Caged." She played a sadistic women's prison warden. She SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH. Mrs. Warren SCARED.ME.TO.DEATH.
Mrs. Warren ran her classroom like Hope Emerson's character ran her women's prison. One step out of line and WHACK! You would be sorry if you crossed Mrs. Warren.
I crossed Mrs. Warren.
Here's what happened.
When I began school, I was a stutterer.
I was shy, timid, no self confidence and basically I was afraid of the world.
Mrs. Warren knew I was a stutterer and it annoyed her. I dreaded when she would call on me in class because I knew I would always answer with "Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, ………..I, I, I don't, don't, don't know, know." (my best typing version of stuttering).
I sat in the back of the class. In those Pre Kid Sensitive Days, tall kids (which I was one) and kids with the name at the end of the alphabet (which I was also one, my last name beginning with a "T") were placed in the back of the classroom. Sitting in the back of the class (for me) was another sign that I wasn't "as good" as my some of my classmates who were shorter than me (most of them) and who were lucky enough to be born with names like Ash and Brookover (both short guys too).
Mrs. Warren is reading a book in front of the classroom. She stops and looks up. I know what she's going to do.
She does. I answer "Ah….ah…..ah……."
I see the steeling glint in her eyes behind her steel frames Himmler glasses focus in on me.
She closes her book and slams it down on her desk.
She sets her beady eyes on my and "CLUMP! CLUMP! CLUMP!" her women's prison warden shoes back to me and
SMACKS ME ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD!!!
and says "STOP IT!"
You know the worst part about this whole episode? It wasn't the smack on the side of my head (which did hurt but no damage other than to my pride).
The worst part was those three to five seconds it took her to clump back to the rear of the classroom where I was sitting and knowing that I was going to be humiliated with a whack on the side of my head.
And the rest of the class knew what was going to happened. I still remember the rustle of my little girl classmates and their crinoline puffy dresses as they turned to see Mrs. Warren mete out "punishment" to the doofus who stuttered in the back of the classroom.
My face was burning but not from the slap to the side of my head but from embarrassment. I was SOOO embarrassed. But you know what? I think she cured me of my stuttering. I never stuttered again in class.
Of course these days Mrs. Warren's way of curing my stuttering would be considered child cruelty but man oh man, it worked back then. And you know why? I just did not want to be embarrassed in front of my classmates again.
I still have the propensity to stutter but what I do now is if I feel a stutter coming on, I just don't say anything until I feel the words forming. Those who know me have probably noticed that sometimes I don't respond immediately while we're having a conversation, that's because I feel the stutter. But that rarely happens these days because I think I stuttered because I was intimidated. I don't think anyone intimidates me these days. I'm not a Wimpy Kid anymore.
But do not fear, I have more "Wimpy Kid" memories which I will share in future blog posts.
Below is a trailer for the film "Caged" which Hope Emerson played the "Mrs. Warren" role. "Orange is the New Black" this is not.