Grade Four – or, How I Learned to Start Worrying and Fear School

Oh sure, the photo looks innocent enough. But I can tell you this. My teacher that year – who shall remain nameless (to spare any progeny she may have had… although I doubt she had any; she would have scared off any would-be suitors) – Miss X, made my life a living hell. I used to come home crying. Here’s the thing, though. I can’t for the life of me remember any details of her cruelty. I must’ve buried the memories. <shiver>

But what I do recall vividly is that because she made me so nervous, I bit my nails to the quick, and developed a stutter that plagued me that entire school year of 1954-1955.

1955 grade 4 class
I am in the second row, second from the end (right).

I do have to tell you this one thing. I’m ashamed to tell it – well, only a little. 😉 The next year, when I was in Grade Five, my stutter thankfully a thing of the past by now, we heard one day that Miss X had died. Passed away, breathed her last, met her maker. (Thank you, Monty Python.) So a bunch of us, the Survivors of Miss X’s Class you might say, all met after school and walked over to the front of her apartment building. (Don’t ask how we knew where she’d lived; kids just knew those things, I guess.)

And so help me, we danced around in a crazy circle, singing, “Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!” like Dorothy and her pals in the Land of Oz! It was a dance of victory – and relief.

Yet I can still remember standing on the sidewalk with the others – cue echoey chanting – as my gaze travelled haltingly up to what I imagined was her window… wait, was that a shadow moving in the glass??

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