Mr. Gale had a sense of humour

The Compass - - OPINION -

I never would have sus­pected Mr. Gale to have a sense of humour, es­pe­cially af­ter the day he threw a piece of chalk at me in class.

First things first: as a child, I didn’t re­al­ize school­teach­ers had first names. My par­ents taught me to call them “Mr.” or “Miss.”

Old habits die hard. Even to­day, I find my­self call­ing Fran­cis Gale “Mr. Gale,” and Beu­lah Reg­u­lar “Miss Reg­u­lar.”

Mr. Gale was one of my teach­ers when I was a boy in Ham­p­den. My par­ents were the pas­tors of the Pen­te­costal church in the White Bay town.

I fi­nally re­al­ized Mr. Gale had a sense of humour when I re­cently read a book, “Tales Told by Teach­ers 1998: A Book of Mem­o­ries.”

Gla­dys (Bur­ton) Costella — or should I say “Miss Costella? — writes, “Mem­o­ries of the kind found on the pages of this book not only take us back­ward in time, but also cause us to gaze in­ward. The glimpses into other teach­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ences lead to re­flec­tions of our own, be they sim­i­lar or not. The feel­ings ex­pressed by those who have shared their mem­o­ries with us evoke like feel­ings in us, and per­haps even help us to re-eval­u­ate our own days in the class­room.

“How of­ten, while read­ing a mem­ory con­trib­uted for this book, did one of us on the com­mit­tee say, ‘Oh, yes, I re­mem­ber that! And in our school we used to …,’ lead­ing one or the other of us to re­gale the com­mit­tee with yet an­other tale. If we had not re­al­ized it be­fore, we soon be­came aware that ‘mem­o­ries beget mem­o­ries,’ and shar­ing them with oth­ers brings im­mense plea­sure.

“We hope ... you will ac­cord (the book) a place of promi­nence on your book­shelf, and that you will con­tinue to share your mem­o­ries, for the fur­ther en­rich­ment of gen­er­a­tions to come.”

The sto­ries are as varied as the teach­ers who wrote them. Harold Loder writes about “My Only Bap­tism.” Ju­dith Peck­ham tells about “Santa’s Goats.” Lily (Cur­tis) Critch re­lates “Con­fes­sions of a Sex Ed­u­ca­tion Teacher.” Dorothy (Ran­dell) Pittman re­gales the reader with tales of “The Teacher Babysit­ter.” Larry Grandy dis­cusses “The Chummy Jig­ger.”

There are even jokes scat­tered through­out the book.

For ex­am­ple, a teacher pays a visit to a stu­dent’s home. “Are your fa­ther and mother in, Mor­ton?”

“They was in, but now they is out.”

“Why, Mor­ton, ‘ They was in,’ ‘ They is out’? Where is your gram­mar?’ “She’s up­stairs tak­ing a nap.” Some of the con­trib­u­tors re­call their mem­o­ries in po­etry.

For ex­am­ple, Hazel Bat­stone writes:

“Af­ter lunch one au­tumn day, re­turn­ing to my task,

All the chil­dren stood in si­lence, each face as if a mask.

What could have stopped their noisy play, and games of ball and bat?

When I spied upon the latch, hung by the tail-a rat!”

Don Crewe who, in­ci­den­tally, taught my brother, David, when we lived at Port aux Basques, re­veals stu­dent an­swers he en­coun­tered while teach­ing. The fol­low­ing ex­am­ples are worth the price of the book:

• Tim­buktu is an imag­i­nary coun­try lo­cated some­where be­tween Tim­bukone and Tim­buk­three.

• A vir­gin for­est is a place where the hand of man has never set foot.

• The ten­dency of chil­dren to re­sem­ble their par­ents is called the “spit­tin’ im­age.”

• Ma­hatma Gandhi’s first name was Goosey Goosey.

• Two days in the week that be­gin with the let­ter “T” are To­day and To­mor­row.

• The thing that Shake­speare, Dick­ens and Mark Twain have in com­mon is that they are all dead.

• I know what schizophre­nia is, but I’m of two minds whether I can write it down.

My teacher, Mr. Gale, is also a con­trib­u­tor to the book.

“Once while teach­ing in a cer­tain place,” he writes, “I heard about a man who was sick. He wanted to go to a hos­pi­tal, but he didn’t have any money to get some clothes that he needed and to pay his fare on the coastal boat.

“An­other guy and I de­cided to go around the set­tle­ment and take up a col­lec­tion for him.

“In the evening, just as it was get­ting dark, we knocked on the door of this house, and a wo­man came out. When we told her what we were go­ing around for, she told us to come in.

“There was no elec­tric­ity in this place, so ev­ery­one had kerosene lamps. As we walked into the kitchen, she said to her hus­band, ‘Light the lamp, Garge. It’s as dark yer as in a cow’s gut.’

“Garge replied, ‘Mary, you’ve bin ev­ery­where, haven’t you?’”

Mr. Gale re­ally did have a sense of humour.

Re­mem­ber the day Mr. Gale threw a piece of chalk at me in class? Well, I ducked and he missed.

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