Truth and Justice and the American Way of Life

Okay these photos are a bit strange, but this is my world around 7 AM when I wake this morning.  My first thought is no pool today.  The cars are buried out there somewhere. I am still half asleep, so I don’t realize there is a screen between my camera and the outside. IMG_0182IMG_0186I know many of us are sick of the snow, and we don’t have it worse than folks to our North, but hey, this is the South for goodness sake.  No wonder my ancestors left the cold winters of New England for warmer places in the Midwest, say Janesville Wisconsin.


Just this week, the Washington Post advertised the best viewing days for the Cherry Blossoms. Yes, in a few short weeks, the fruit trees will begin their month long  blooming season here….no kidding.  Previous winters have been much the same in March. The issue has been the unusual snow events in the past three months. In a month, I will be able to get around town without a problem she said confidently.

There were a few “little ice ages” in the past..years without summer.  Years when the crops were lean and the food was scarce. Years when the animals ran out of food. Read Laura Ingalls Wider’s Long Long Winter, for goodness sake. I did when I was eight years old and lived south of where I live now.

Winters in the 1950s in the south were very mild, although my father, a native of Wisconsin, insisted my sister and I wear long pants under our skirts to avoid chilblains.  Lined pants we took off at school and hung under our coats lest we become overheated.  The other kids laughed at my sister and me…the stupid Yankees.  We were the source of much laughter, the clothes we wore, the way we talked, the packed lunches we brought to school while most of them brought money to buy lunch.

One lunchtime, Frances Starnes and I got into a scuffle over the salt shaker.  She sprinkled salt on my sandwich and I grabbed the salt cellar and sprinkled salt on her potatoes.  The teacher who disliked me, told me to take my milk money and buy Frances a new dish of potatoes. Milk was 8 cents a carton, the potatoes were 7 cents.  So I got no milk for lunch that day.  I hated that teacher. I also developed a sense of Justice which has stayed with me the rest of my life.

Miss Betsy Ross developed a dislike for me because whenever she pointed to a place on the map of the US in history/geography class, I raised my hand told the class I had been there.

Worst of all, perhaps, she was named for the flag lady (whose real name was not Betsy), and like many first year teachers, she figured she knew everything.  I told her I had a ninth great grandfather who fought in the American War of Independence (I actually have several).

Note from Wiki:

Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), born Elizabeth Griscom and also known by her second and third married names Elizabeth Ashburn and Elizabeth Claypoole,[1] is widely credited with making the first American flag and changing the stars on the flag from six-pointed to easier-to-produce five-pointed stars.[2][3][4] However, there is no archival evidence that this story is true.[5]

Because in those days, children in the South (which was still in the midst of a depression that began after the Civil War) did not travel, she figured I was lying. She contacted my father, who told her of course I was telling the truth.

We had traveled and lived all over the South as well as the Midwest by then.  And Dad, my teacher for many years, was an antiquarian, which is a fancy word for amateur historian or history buff. He took us everywhere he could and taught us about the history of America.

Miss Ross was furious, and from then on when I raised my hand in geography class, she refused to call on me.  Frances with the salt shaker was her “teacher’s pet” that year and I never had a chance.   Old resentments die a hard death.


22 thoughts on “Truth and Justice and the American Way of Life

  1. All my schooling was with the nuns and they were a cruel & sarcastic bunch of women. I hated every single day, a slow learner, I was belittling every single day. I learned more at home from my mother than I ever did in school. I swore the day I left that if I ever had children, they would not be educated at the hand of any religious denomination.


  2. Hmmmm….I would have figured you for a teacher’s pet. The world is full of surprises. As for the pictures, I think that screen gives them a very artistic look. I think there is even a graphic program that will render that very effect on photos.


    • Most years I was the teacher’s pet. Not the year I had Miss Ross, however. Which shocked me.

      Also when I had Miss Neely for Algebra, she kept me after school everyday for cutting up with jimmy Fuller…his fault of course! Miss Neely was a friend of my mother’s and went to our church. I don’t think she had ‘ pets.’


  3. I didn’t like too many of my teachers, they all seemed mean. I was such a quiet kid and I suppose they were trying to bring me out. It never worked, I was always a quiet little kid. Oh boy, did I come out of my shell but only after I left school.


  4. There was a teacher at my elementary school who was very mean. I did not have her for my teacher but she was the lunchroom teacher every so often and she was so mean to me b/c I refused to eat so much of the school lunch. She made fun of me,too, when my class went to her room to participate in a spelling bee. I still can’t spell words aloud due to Mrs. Bancroft’s bullying. Maybe we should all take a day a write on our one mean teacher. She was the only one I ever had. Oh, wait, I had a 7th/8th grade PE teacher who was pretty vile, too.


  5. Honestly, it is a wonder that so many of us retained our sanity after grade school back in those days. I survived Catholic school and so can deeply empathize with your stories. The nuns taught what they wanted to teach (only) and definitely had a way of picking favorites. I alternated between acting out and getting in trouble one year and being such a goody two-shoes in another that my mother said she’d pay me if I got a lower than A grade in ‘deportment’. (Yes, we were graded in each class on ‘deportment’ … how we behaved.)


    • In catholic schools, the nuns said I had difficulty with ” self control, which is another word for deportment. Also penmanship.

      When I got to go to pubic school, most of the teachers took good care of me. I was brighter than many of my peers and bored with their progress, which is why I think bright kids should not be kept back so slow kids don’t feel inferior. I am so happy all my granddaughters were put into accelerated or AP programs.

      As for nasty teachers, in public school I only had difficulty with Miss Ross.


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