Seventh Grade English
From day one, we all knew that this class would be different. The grade school teachers we had had before were all older women, women shaped by two world wars and the great depression, women living in a past that not only no longer existed, but a past that had been ruthlessly destroyed, Jazz Babies brought down to earth by grim reality. The sixties had only recently started, a new, youthful president had given the nation hope for a new world, one that looked forward, not backward. The new English teacher was definitely made from this newer mold- fresh out of college, very much into the present age, vivacious, witty and drop-dead gorgeous. Just what a thirteen-year-old boy needed.
Whenever a student needed to be in the halls during class-time, they needed a pink paper "pass" to show to any hall monitor. Her passes were perfumed. When discussing drama, most teachers would play a movie illustrate a point. She would act it out herself. With body language. She also directed the talent show, the lucky kids were those on the stage crew, not the stage, they got to be with her all the time (and went with her on a year-end picnic), and she knew her stagecraft.
By the time the end of seventh grade came around, she was sporting a big diamond ring- we all knew what that meant. She married a lawyer that summer, but she did come back for another year, and then was gone...
I ran into her about fifteen years later, at an outdoor art fair. She was still married, her husband was with her, she actually remembered me, and it was nice to see her again (still looking fabulous) but her husband didn't think it was such a good idea for her to be talking to a long-haired twenty-something.
Elaine is pushing 70 by now, I can't picture her retired in the usual sense of the word, of course to me she'll always be as she was- on that first day of seventh grade English.