First grade started off great after I got over the newness of the first day. My teacher Lydia Troyer was kind and efficient in teaching a one room school with grades 1 through 8. We all loved her, but after six weeks something happened that she had to go home, and since that was out of state the school board had to find a new teacher fast.
On Monday morning when we got to school we were greeted by Ruth Miller who had agreed to finish the term. She didn't look as if she knew how to have fun as she sat grimly at her teachers desk and looked sternly at us.
We all sat there quietly and looked at her. I started feeling a lump in my throat again, I wanted to go home or have Lydia back, I looked over at cousin Emma and she looked scared too. Finally Ruth cleared her throat and said that we need to forget we had a teacher before her and that she will be making some changes. For starters she wants the upper grade children to go take down all the art that is on the walls.
I watched as they took down all the art that we had created during happy art periods the previous six Fridays and laid them on her desk and she took them all, crumpled them, and threw them in the trash can, and stated "There, that's the last of that nonsense! We come to school to work, not to play." And proceeded to give us our assignments.
It wasn't long before it was obvious, that she didn't like cousin Marvin. He had a problem with stuttering that grew a lot worse after she started teaching. One day when the second grade was having their reading class, he was having an especially hard time with his stuttering and Ruth got very frustrated with him and told him that since he is too much of a baby to read to go back and sit in his seat.
I watched in consternation as he walked to his seat blinking back tears, and Ruth grabbed the trash can which was almost half full of crumpled papers and shavings from sharpening pencils and roughly placed it upside down over Marvin's head and shoulders. The trash fell on his lap and the floor around him as she told him he has to sit there like that for the rest of the day.
I tried my best to please her, to avoid experiencing her temper. But one day it happened. I was at the chalkboard writing my numbers when I really needed to go.... I told her. But she told me that I have to wait. Somehow I managed to wait and when recess came she didn't let me go then either because I had "lied" to her, because I apparently didn't look too uncomfortable while I was waiting for recess. After recess the first graders were once again at the chalkboard and I could hardly stand still any longer but I didn't dare ask her for permission to go and so, the unthinkable happened.
She was very upset with me then, because not only was there a mess on the floor, but our lunch boxes were kept under the chalkboard and the puddle reached her paper bag and seeped into her lunch. She made me stand by the stove to dry and when it was time for lunch she ate my lunch and said I would have to do without eating that day.
Cousin Marvin and Emma and a few of the other children came to the rescue and shared some of their food when Ruth wasn't looking.
Once the school term was over Ruth was not hired again. There were rumblings of problems in the community and so everyone decided to home school the next term.