Why I’m The Way I Am

I was looking through a box of stuff, I’d squirreled away in a closet. It was filled with old notebooks and loose notebook pages filled with my juvenile handwriting. At the very bottom of the box, there was this manila folder that was old and stained.

I opened it and emptied the contents on the floor. Out came memories. It contained some of my work from first and second grade. I sat there, staring at some of my old tests, drawings and homework and this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia overcame me.

Was I ever this young?

Then, as I studied the papers, something occurred to me: I didn’t have very supportive teachers.

At least, not during the important “formative” years.

For example, the drawing below is one I submitted in art class back in first grade. I thought it was rather progressive considering it was 1967 and I was just shy of my seventh birthday. But my teacher, mean old Miss Calder didn’t think so.

She was tough on her pupils and never let our naivte or youth stand in the way of her projecting her absolute rage on us.

And boy, was she angry!!! She never held back. Kind of weird too, since she didn’t have kids of her own. We thought not being encumbered by motherhood would’ve made her nicer.

It didn’t.

Years later, I used to hear my mother refer to as being “frank”.

I thought that meant “brutally honest”.


Turns out, that’s the name she used after her her sex change operation in 1970.




And then, my tender, fragile juvenile self-esteem was further stunted by my second grade reading comprehension teacher, Mrs. Roberts.

In retrospect, she sure was a bitch!!




Then, I found an old classmate’s drawing that somehow got mixed in with my stuff. I vaguely remember Laura Lee Hobbs. Her family moved in third grade, but we were never very close friends. My rather elitist mother didn’t want me playing with her because as she put it (and all you Southerners will know what this means) her mother and father were “no account”.

In this drawing, Laura Lee paid tribute to her mother’s night job.



Our teacher, Mr. Peterson gave her an A-plus.

Gee, wonder why?

If memory serves, Laura Lee shared a desk with Junior Salzberry, whose father was a fireman. I remember thinking what were the odds that I’d have two classmates with parents that both worked with poles.

Of course, this excluded Jimmy Ray McCaskill whose father was a janitor at the Polish embassy.



(For Mamacita!!!!)


  1. Where do you think??? I pull names out of my ass to fit my mood, Cheryl Kay and when I composed those tome, I was in a Corpus Christi frame of mind.

    I could’ve used Martin….

    Or Dumont

    Or ZUNKER!!!!!


  2. made me think of mrs. nash in 7th grade history. she would slam her desk drawer and SCREAM at us to SHUT UP!!

    i wonder if she could get away with that in today’s atmosphere. she struck me as being mad.

    interestingly, her husband taught science and was a smooth easy-going type that we all liked. i wondered what they were like at home.

  3. This is hilarious. The only thing more fun than digging for bad memories in your own closet is rummaging through someone else’s.

  4. Growing up in Karnes City, TX….In South Elementary, next to Mrs. Little’s first grade class, there was a remedial reading teacher named Mrs. Clark. She would teach the students who couldn’t read on their level..this also included non English speaking students…usually, the children of migrant farm workers who worked the land in and around KC (in South Central Texas).

    Back then, there was “no such a thing as child abuse”. It was called discipline and it was always humilitating and sometienms, corporal. We got paddled by our principal. And I can assure of this, if we got paddled at school, we were DAMN sure going to get paddled for it at home. Parents believed the teachers back then.

    Back to Mrs. Clark–she would scream at these poor kids and it caused us to fear this woman so much we would not dare pass her room. It was the last room on the left, next to my classroom. Way in the back of the school.

    We were horrified every time we heard her and yet the other teachers continued to teach with not a concern one about it.

    Do you remember Mrs. Clark, Kathy, Laurie..Cheryl????? Anyone else reading from Karnes City???

    Mrs. Clark could not get away with that in this day and age.

  5. LOL – this reminds me of my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Ingram. We had to cut-out these paper turkeys and decorate them any way we wanted for Thanksgiving. Well I was a bit obsessed with Batman at the time and so I was making my turkey to be “Robin” from the 60’s tv show. She told me that my cutting skills were poor and that it looked like it wen through th lawnmower. I still haven’t forgiven her.

  6. Karol, I think Mrs. Clark was my first grade teacher. I remember she scared the s**t out of me. Keith Rippstien was in my class, he did something wrong and she walked over and pulled his ear so hard I thought it was going to fall off. I will never ever forget that! She would slap the girls hands with a ruler and pull the boys ears. Can you imagine if a teacher did that now-a-days. She or he would be fired. My oldest is a jr high teacher and if you even look at a kid wrong the parents are up at the school.

    McCaskill? you must of been diggin’ deep LK! HAHAHAHA

  7. Cheryl,

    No, you’re getting old, my darling.

    And forgetfull.

    You and Keith had Mrs. Faith!! Remember? Mrs. Clark taught mostly migrant children.

    Unless you were hiding something from me, Chica!!


  8. My best teacher was my high school band instructor who didn’t take shit from anyone during band rehearsal, but could tell the damndest funniest jokes when sitting in his office during a lesson. He taught kids who listened great values about leadership, appearance, professionalism – in ways that have stuck with me throughout my life. Thanks John D. “Jack” Ryan.

  9. I had two favorite teachers. Mrs. Mabry (second grade) and Mrs. Conrads (fourth grade-she was one of our grandmother’s best friends). Mrs. Conrads would read to us every day after lunch and some of the kids would actually fall asleep. Mrs. Mabry was just fun.

    Good ol 60s era.

  10. Oh yea, Mrs. Faith, I told you I was bad with names!! I don’t remember Mrs. Clark. I remember I wanted Mrs. Garner for my 1st grade teacher, but got Mrs. Faith, and I wanted Mrs Pace for my second grade teacher, but got Mrs. Kellner. The play ground is my best memory from those days. Jumping rope, playing jacks on the front steps of the school, making houses in the dirt and leaves at the back of the playground. It was so much fun.

  11. You girls probably didn’t do this but when i was in the second grade, we girls would jump off the two huge boulders in the front of south elementary and twirl our skirts around so the petticoats would show.

    Such teasers!

  12. I moved to Center, Texas (pop. 5,000) in the middle of 1st grade (1972-73). One art project was to color a picture of a mommy for mother’s day. My mother has red hair and hazel eyes she (Mrs. White) said we had to color it with black hair and blue eyes, like in the example.

    A black girl and I were sent to the office for not following directions.

    I am not kidding.

    We also had prayer and a Bible passage read over the intercom until 1978, and my 4th grade teacher said Madeline Murray O’Hare (sp?) was the Antichrist.

    Good times.

  13. Petticoats Karol?
    No I didn’t do that but I do remember jumping off the boulders on the front steps of the school. My how times have changed, now my kids are lucky if they even get to go to recess.

    Do you remember a movie we had to watch about children playing on the train tracks and what could happen to them? I vaugly remember watching it and how upset I was after watching it. I have this terrible fear of trains to this day.

  14. hahahah….


    I had great grade school teachers, and i’m still rather weird, awkward, and dumb at times…sometimes all at once. I don’t even want to imagine how I would have turned out if I had your teachers…

  15. Wonderful reflection on the excellent institution known as public education. God love those teachers. Someone has to.

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