To: Our Fourth-Grade Teacher, Rosa Bolling, You Win
Please Allow Me to Set The Time
The Year: 1963. November to be exact. Prior to JFKs assassination.
Place: Hamilton Grammar School, Hamilton, AL.
Topic: How my fourth grade teacher used four things in her room to cause me such pain.
Her Name Was Rosa Bolling
and she was my fourth grade teacher. But there were those long moments of time that I prayed that this Mrs. Rosa Bolling, would either get fired or retire, preferably both at anytime. I was convinced that the class would go for either plan of extermination. I, above everyone, needed some form of relief.
To be Completely-Truthful
with you, Bolling was NOT a witch, an ogre, or some beast that a mad scientist had made her in his secret laboratory somewhere in England. Bolling presented herself in a professional manner—her hair, make-up, and cut of clothing was top notch, she was pretty for her age. Not that she was seeking male companionship because her husband of so many years had went home to Glory, but after the first semester, she dropped a bomb on us (e.g. The Gap Band), she told us that during the weekend, she married some man, forgot his name, and she appeared to be happy.
Now if you are 11-years-of-age, you look for and seize every opportunity you can to NOT have to lots of unwanted work, have plenty of time for loafing with your friends, and generally NOT caring if the sun rises or goes down. We were not a lazy bunch, so do not think this. Thank you. But now, she went from Mrs. Bolling to Mrs. Simmons and that did take some getting used to, but we survived.
If you ever watched Lassie, then you had to know June Lockhart---what a beauty she was. Actually, she could have carried that entire show and it be only about her and the famous collie: Lassie, if you didn’t know, Rudd Weatherwax and Lassie was several collie dogs and was the creation of producer Robert Maxwell and animal trainer and was televised from September 12, 1954, to March 25, 1973. Lockhart played the role of June Martin while Hugh Reiley took on the role of Paul Martin, her on-stage husband. Jon Provost was the cute and cuddly Timmy, and that was the cast—all except George J. Chandler who was Uncle Petrie (Martin) to lend Timmy his vast knowledge about life and farming from time to time.
But I have always held to the thinking that if Lassie was a talking dog, she would have not had to rely on any human beings. I do not think that I will receive anyone who will disagree with this statement.
A Few More Thoughts About
June Lockhart, what a natural beauty. Her role as June Marin was spot on, always giving support to son, Timmy and husband, Paul (Martin), Lockhart shined as this role that can be said that she became famous for Lassie. And in those days of 1954, shows of this nature had NO cursing, extra-marital affairs, drunkenness, drug use, spousal violence, child abuse as well as animal abuse. Lassie was without a doubt as being THE cleanest, wholesome TV show of all time. And if Campbell’s Soup was the sponsor, which it was for as long as Lassie was broadcast, then you had a winning-combination of show and sponsor leading to success.
Now Back to Mrs. Simmons
Rosa now-Simmons. If you like, go up and re-read the clean appearance and acting given by June Lockhart and then read the following contrast I am going to share about the differences between Lockhart and Simmons—and you will understand why I am this way, mostly messed-up, from the early background of my life.
Mrs. Rosa Simmons had four areas of torture: her rusty windows, rusty door, dusty desk and big drinking glass. In order to understand these things, you have to be me. But as for that fact, just use your imagination.
When she or someone else opened our classroom, the door gave-out this creaking like that of a Vincent Price horror movie and (depending on the amount of traffic) my nerves were quickly on-edge and I think that Mrs. Simmons knew this, but chose to not do anything about it because I believe that she was secretly, a sadist, who wanted to inflict (just enough) mild torture to keep us in line and to keep our minds from wanting to stay at home instead of school.
The windows to her classroom were dirty and I cannot tell you why she never cleaned them. Our school never had what you have any cleaning staff, only one janitor, (a) Mr. Spencer and his mentally-challenged son, Hatley, who Mr. Spencer carried with him everywhere he went. I never even witnessed Spencer clean Rosa Simmons’ windows—not did he do anything about those metal-on-metal widow cranks (at the bottom) that put the windows shut or open. In the hot summer weather, she kept the windows shut, but rolled them in before school was over and if you had both, the creaking door and window cranks that was never oiled, well, there were two annoying sources of noise.
Mrs. Simmons desk was never clean, but very dusty. I noticed as she would place her books on the top of this antique desk, dust would fly and those students who were seated on the front would start sneezing. Where did I sit? On the very last row near the door and each evening when I came home from school, depending on her noisy door, rusty window cranks and now . . .a dusty desk that you could plant seeds and see them grow, I was turning from care-free fourth grade student to a nervous wreck.
But the Worst Thing about Mrs. Simmons being a sadist, you read THIS segment and see if you do not agree. In the summertime, we hit the door for recess and us boys loved to play Chase or Football because the two games involved running and we loved it.
But like I said, it was very hot and we were not allowed to come back into the school building to get a drink of water—because Simmons and other teachers at in the cool shade near the school doors and talked. Then came THE most-painful, sadistic thing one adult can do to a young person: she had this big drinking glass full of sweet tea along with ice cubes and she always placed this glass directly in front of us to make sure that we could see it and the moisture droplets would form, then slowly “crawl” down the side of the glass and by now, my tongue was swelled, my throat felt as dry as the Sahara Dessert and sweat had saturated my clean shirt that my mom had given me to wear. And during this Tea Exhibition, Mrs. Simmons would read us a Bible story—and while there as no problem with the Bible story, but the tea, ice cubes, and water droplets “crawling” down her big drinking glass was, in a few words, TOO MUCH!!! Now do you believe that she was sadist?
Friends, what you have finished reading, was just a small sample of what we were forced to endure in our fourth grade year. I started to share about Mrs. Simmons being quickly-frustrated at me NOT knowing right-off How to Tell Time, and when I struggled to do as she said, I would mess up and she, and the rest of the students, laughed at me like those of a pack of Hyena’s on those National Geographic documentaries.
No wonder that today I cannot tolerate any show about Africa.
April 5, 2019______________________________________________
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© 2019 Kenneth Avery