Mr. Gale had a sense of hu­mour

The Compass - - OPINION - Bur­ton K. Janes bur­tonj@nfld.net

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, where my par­ents were the pas­tors of the lo­cal Pen­te­costal church.

I fi­nally re­al­ized Mr. Gale had a sense of hu­mour when I re­cently picked up the 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 (like­wise) feel­ings in us, and per­haps even help us to reeval­u­ate 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.”

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

There are even jokes through­out the book.

For ex­am­ple, a teacher pays a visit to a stu­dent’s home and asks, “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 sped upon the

scat­tered

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 price­less:

* 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 a contributor to the book, as well.

“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?’”

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

. Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at

bur­tonj@nfld.net.

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