DAYS 2, 3, 4

OCTOBER 11, 12, 13

We left Huntsville around 8 in the morning on Wednesday and had a great drive. To get to #400 we had to take this narrow road, no shoulders, a solid line in the middle for the whole way. It was constant turns, hills and bumps! Thankfully there was little traffic because only locals came anywhere near the speed limit. When one of them came up close enough to read your navigation screen through the back window, you found a place to pull over. The road went around every rock , and there were lots of them. But it was a beautiful drive and we really enjoyed it. Then we went on #400, again traffic wasn’t heavy, and then on to #17. We had been spoiled by the wide roads, but now had to share -back to both directions on the same road.

As is our custom we stopped for lunch – our only restaurant meal of the day. It was a local restaurant, which we prefer. Lloyd had a good old club house sandwich and I ordered chicken poutine. I have had it before, chicken strips on top of poutine. NEVER have I had mushroom gravy with huge slices of mushroom on poutine. It also was not cheese curd, but chunks of cheese. I ate half of it, grumbling all the time!

We made such good time that we decided to go past Sault Ste. Marie. So we went to Batchawana Bay and stopped at The Voyageurs’ Lodge. I loved it at first glimpse a good thing since we stayed there much longer than planned It was across the road from the Bay which is part of Lake Superior.  It was where the voyageurs landed and the trail had gone right past the lodge. The place is all wood, with the key on a little wooden canoe, the coat hooks on wooden paddles, and all the furniture in the room and the restaurant were hand made.

All went well until we unloaded the SUV and discovered I had left my computer in its case at the door of the inn in Huntsville! I made the first of many calls to the Knights Inn in Huntsville. First I will tell you that English is not the first language of the owner to whom I spoke each time. When I explained what had happened she told me yes, they had it, but they would not send it ‘collect’ to me by Purolator. I had to arrange that myself. So I went to the main desk, and they found the number for me. I called Purolator and they said, no problem, just go on line, fill out the forms by which I could pay it, and they would pick it up. I explained it was a bit hard to go on line with my computer since that was what they were picking up. So it was suggested I go to the front desk again, and ask to use the computer there. The problem was the owners were away, and the computer was in their house on the property. The waitress, who lived near there was willing for me to use hers, but her husband was away, and she couldn’t leave. SOOOO  back to our room, called P. again, got a snarky man who said the order form had to be sent to the Huntsville Inn, before they could pick it up. When I asked how the form was to be sent, he said on line. I replied – a bit more emphatically “I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER!!! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO PICK UP!!!”  He said something else, and I said even more emphatically ” DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME IF I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER SO I CAN GO ONLINE, I CAN’T DEAL WITH YOUR COMPANY????” Well ,he said, you could call the Inn and give them the address to fill out the packaging slip. Sooo, once again I called the inn – did I mention English was not her first language?  I gave her the address of the Lodge in Batchawana. Then I called back to P. where I talked to a wonderful young man named Craig, who very kindly informed me I had to call back to the inn and have them change the shipping address to the  pickup depot in Sault Ste. Marie, since I couldn’t pay it online! ( I was really beginning to hate the word online), I had to pay there before I picked it up. Assuming I would do that, he said he would book it to be picked up on Thursday and I could pick it up on Friday. He also said the person picking up the parcel would help fill out the form. SOOOOO once again I called the inn, gave her the new address. By this time we had become good friends! So we went to bed hoping all would go well. I’ll tell you right now God and I did a lot of talking!

So yesterday, Thursday, Oct.12, we stayed at the Lodge, which if you have to stay somewhere, is a good place to stay. We walked across the road to the shore. Samson does NOT like waves coming in, even when gentle. WE did this a couple of times. I read and we watched TV. We bought two meals – breakfast and dinner. I had fresh pickerel caught fresh from Lake Superior for dinner – delicious.

This morning we woke up and wondered how things would go. I called P. at 9 and was told it had been picked up (phew!) but had not been scanned yet. So we decided at 9:30 to drive back to the SOO and search for the depot. I must say that Katie (our new SUV’s navigation system) is wonderful! I had no address just ” 40 Industrial A Court” I put it in, and lo and behold, it showed us the way! So we went , found it, paid for it, and headed on our way!

We are now paying $1.23 for gas!

I have heard people talking about how boring it is driving through this area – just trees- but I have to disagree! It was like driving through one of the Group of Seven’s paintings, with the trees, rapids and lakes. We loved it. The traffic was light, and it was a good day.

We are in Marathon. We did not get as far as I had planned for the third day of driving, but did OK saying we had such a late start. I don’t know if we’ll get out of Ontario tomorrow, but will enjoy wherever we end up. I don’t think many people realize how huge our province is.

I would say Friday the  13th didn’t turn out too bad. I have my computer and survived my 75th birthday. Imagine – three quarters of a century!




After getting the last of the things packed, dishes washed up. and a few things finished outside, we were off at 9:03… in the fog!  We hadn’t gone far before we heard Samson coughing. Lloyd had forgotten he shouldn’t have given him soft food before he got in the vehicle. So I pulled over, we cleaned up the cage… sigh… and were off again. Then Lloyd decided we should stop in Gananoque to get some money from the bank ...sigh . FINALLY we took off!. We stopped in Napanee for breakfast and top up the gas tank $1.07 a litre …sigh.

We stopped at Ivanhoe Cheese factory and bought curd and extra old cheese – supper!!

We went through Bancroft, Barry’s Bay, Whitney and finally to Algonquin Park. We didn’t see any moose this time, but the colours were beautiful. There don’t seem to be a lot of red ones, but a lot of the beautiful colour sort of a mix of gold and orange. We stopped to eat a sandwich in the Park, then headed toward Huntsville.

I want everyone to know all is right with the world – road construct work is flourishing!

I think the last two weeks of preparing for Thanksgiving Sunday dinner ( for 22), and figuring out what we needed for Arizona for the winter, and packing it all, as well as doing all the driving caught up with me. I was really tired, so we decided to stop in Huntsville for the night. All we needed was to find a motel – easy right? No way ! The first one we stopped at was $160, plus tax, for a small room with one queen sized bed. I was very honest and told her that was way more than we planned to pay. We finally stopped at Knights Inn, and it was pricey enough . I sort of forgot to tell them we had a cat. There was no sign saying no pets, and I figured at $130, I was already paying enough!


So the first day, only 420 km., but we are on our way




Tomorrow morning Lloyd and I set off to our winter home in Apache Junction, Arizona. This time, though we are going a different way. Weather permitting, we are heading west across the southern part of Canada as far as Alberta, then head south from there.

It is embarrassing to realize we have been in over half of the American states, but never been west of Sudbury Ontario.

I have been suggesting to younger people to not say “Someday we will….” but to try to do it while they can. We were always going to go across Canada in our RV, but left it too late. Since Lloyd had problems with his retina, he finds it very stressful to do much driving, and I have never driven the truck and 5th Wheel. So we will go in our SUV with me doing most of the driving, But we DO have a new 2017 Ford Explorer to drive. We have to tell people because it is the same color as our 2013 Explorer!

We are not flying home for Christmas this year. I will miss the family, but it is such a long, tiring trip we thought we will try this. I will be flying to Ottawa near the end of January to reactivate my travel insurance. Lloyd will stay in Arizona with Samson.

This year I will be writing an account of the day on my blog, rather than on FaceBook and email. I am inviting you to travel along with us!





Most of us take getting an education for granted. Many people would do anything to avoid it.  But back in the first part of the twentieth century, it was not a given.

My father-in-law’s education was minimal. He could write his name, but was able to read very little. He was one of the smartest men I have ever known, but he had to work during his childhood to help his mother and ten siblings. My mother-in-law went to school for three or four years, and before their children were old enough, did the reading, or relied on a neighbour down the road – one of the few educated men around.

After grade eight the students had to write “Entrance ” exams for the right to go on to high school. Dad passed it, but couldn’t go on, even though he wanted to, because as the oldest of six children he had to work on his father’s barn.

So Mom was one of the rare young people who went to high school. There was no school bus, so she had to board with a family in Lyndhurst. So at the age of eleven, Pappy would take her there Sunday night with loaves of home made bread, cold boiled potatoes and cold beef. Every night she would warm up the potatoes, and eat it for her supper. I think she had some of the bread for breakfast and beef sandwich for lunch. No matter what the host family was having, it was never shared with Mom. I don’t know how they could treat an eleven year old girl like that!

I think it was the following summer that Pappy uprooted the whole family, and moved them to Detroit. It was at that time that the Ford Company was expanding in leaps and bounds, and needed houses for all the workers. So Pappy went to build houses. Every time I think of them moving from Californy, back of Jones’Falls to the city of Detroit, I keep thinking of the Beverley Hillbillies!!

When Mom started school in Detroit, at the age of twelve, she had already reached her full height of 5’7, which was quite rare for that time. As many tall girls tend to do, she had slumped shoulders, and terrible posture, trying to look shorter. They made her do a full series of exercises to straighten back up. She particularly hated hanging from the monkey bars . All of her girls can tell attest to the fact that we all had great posture! If you slumped, she would strike you between your shoulder blades with the side of her hand! When Dorothy came to live with us at the age of fourteen, and she was even taller, she soon learned to stand tall and be proud of it. Of course, being the shortest by several inches , I always stood as tall as I could!

The academic part of school of course was no problem for Mom, and in four years she had completed grade twelve and was at Wayne University ,aiming at  a four year teachers’ degree. I do not know how she handled tuition – probably worked.

Sadly, for the family, the Depression hit, Pappy was out of work, so decided to take the family back to the farm in Ontario because he knew at least he could feed them. That’s when it hit the fan ! Mom wouldn’t go. She knew if she did, she’d never finish her education. Ma was a lot shorter than the rest of the family, but had the biggest temper, and she lost it. She said if Mom didn’t come with them, not to ever come home again. Can you just imagine how Mom felt to see the family leave, and know she wasn’t welcome back home?

Mom put herself through school by working as a maid for families who were wealthy enough that the Depression hadn’t ruined them. I think Mom worked for two or three families before arrangements were made for her to stay at a residence for women of limited means. I think this was arranged by one of her professors. Her education was three years of classes, and the fourth year she taught a class. I think she told me there were four classes with fourth year students teaching, and a master teacher supervising them.

One year she had a pink dress of very light material which she wore every day, rinsing it out at night. As the fall got colder, a teacher gave her a blue dress of heavier material. For the rest of her life, Mom hated blue! But with a lot of work on her part, some help from people who recognized her unusual talent and intelligence, and helped her reach her goal, Mom got her teaching degree.

Now I have to back up four years. By December of the first year, Mom was so lonesome for the family, she came home for Christmas. I don’t know how she got to Jones Falls, but once there, she started to walk home. Half way home, she met Pappy driving . He stopped and said, “I’ll take you home, but it’s up to your mother” They got back home, Ma came to the door to see why Pappy was home so soon, saw Mom, let out a cry, ran to the truck, arms wide open and gave Mom the hug of her life! I think Pappy knew all along what would happen!    When it was time to go back to Detroit, Pappy planned on selling a cow to get enough money for a bus ticket, but met a man who was a friend of one of his neighbours. Guess where he was headed!! So Mom got back for free.

One summer, when she was home, she went to visit Aunt Ruby who was working for a family in Ellisville. While there, she met the oldest son, tall, dark and handsome, Lloyd Oliver Jones.  They were married on June 30, 1938. They were renting a farm at Sand Lake near Lansdowne. Mom returned to Detroit to teach one more year to get some money to help get the farm going. However just before she was to go, she had a miscarriage . Aunt Ruby went with her, and Mom would teach, come home and collapse and Aunt Ruby looked after meals and everything. Mom came home to stay at the end of that year.

Mom stayed home on the farm for a few years. Starting with nothing, farming is almost impossible, so Mom and Dad decided she should teach to help with the farm finances. But there was a problem.

Even though teachers only had to have grade thirteen and one year of teachers’ college, or grade twelve and two years of teachers’ college, Mom’s four year teaching degree from Wayne University counted for little. There was a third way to get a teaching certificate. You went to summer school for six weeks, taught a year, summer school again, taught another year then go to teachers’ college for a year. It was decided Mom could get her teacher’s certificate if she went to summer school for two summers. So she went to Toronto for a summer, I went to Grandma and Grandpa Jones where Aunt Hilda and Aunt Beulah looked after me.

At that time married teachers could not teach. But there was a shortage because so many of the male teachers were fighting in WW II. There was a school north of Ottawa that hired Mom, and I spent my winters with Ma and Pappy.

After a short time,  the restrictions about married teachers was lifted, and Mom taught at Brier Hill until Virginia was born. Then she stayed home with Sally and Barry joining the flock.

She went back teaching when Barry was two with the help of a wonderful neighbour girl, Myrla Tye, to baby sit the three younger ones. One of the neat things is that Myrla lived in a house by our farm, and she baby sat our two – Christopher and Cindy

She taught in a one room school at Soperton, and then moved to  Pine Grove, near Brewer’s Mills in Pittsburgh Township. When I left the two room school at Joyceville, Mom was hired to replace me. Then they started to build an addition onto Joyceville. One of the trustees, gleefully told her they were advertising for a principal. Now the fact they had gone to school together and of course Mom beat the socks off him when it came to marks, might have had some part in his glee. Mom asked him why they needed to advertise , since they already had a principal. Of course he didn’t dare say it was because she was a woman, so said it was because she didn’t have a degree. Mom told him she’d get one!

Queen’s University counted her degree from Wayne U. as grade thirteen and three university courses, so she needed twelve more. So she took a course every winter, and two every summer and in four years had a B.A.

Mom stayed as principal at Joyceville, which eventually grew to a school with twelve classroom, until she retired in 1977. At the first she was one of four women principals.

Mom never took her life and all the people who had helped her reach her goals for granted. She always paid it forward, and raised us to do the same. Children at Joyceville who had less than most, never realized that those handmade mittens that mysteriously appeared under the Christmas tree in their classroom with their name on the package, had been knit by the very principal they did their best to not get on the wrong side of! She often gave people loans, knowing she might not get it back. Two different times she and Dad had a family living at our house who were out of work. The man helped Dad, and the wife looked after the house. They and their children lived for free and received a small wage. They would stay until they found a job.

Of all the ways my parents influenced the person I am today, the one for which I am most grateful is the understanding that I have a duty to support my fellow man in any way I can .


People may have wondered why I haven’t posted for a while. It is because I want to write about my mother and because she was such a complex woman, it is hard to limit her to the written word. I have been trying to figure out how and what to use to describe her.

Just looking at the basic details, she was an impressive woman – farm wife;mother of five – four surviving; teaching degree from Wayne University; having to re-qualify in Ontario; many years of teaching first in rural schools, then two room;  getting her BA degree from Queen’s University at night and summers; became one of the first women principals in Frontenac County (there were four); travelling by herself in a Class C RV after retirement and the list goes on.

The challenge is to try to explain what made her so special. Mom was born March 16, 1912, the oldest of Burton and Myrtle Blackman’s  (Pappy and Ma) four surviving children. The children were Mom, Ruby, Edgar and Stuart. Mom, being the oldest, was Pappy’s assistant and knew everything about farming, very little about cooking! Aunt Ruby was Ma’s assistant, so knew everything about baking (Ma was an amazing baker), even though she also knew about farming, especially after she married Uncle Ted. Uncles Ed and Stu started farming as soon as they were able.

There was an incident which would have handicapped most people, especially women, but served to contribute to Mom being the strong woman she became. When she was six, the summer before she was to start school Mom climbed up to the top of a cupboard and got a dynamite cap Pappy used when building barns. (Pappy was known all over Leeds county for his barns. In fact there is one I know of that still stands straight and true) Mom took the cap outside and holding it in her left hand – her dominant hand-  lit it. Needless to say Mom’s fingers were badly damaged. Pappy took her to the doctor- one of those wonderful country doctors of that time. The doctor was going to just take all the fingers off to the first knuckle, but Pappy stood over him and made him save every bit possible of every finger. It boggles my mind that he was able to stand it. Pappy was an amazing man and seemed to know she would use every bit available. I am trying to remember what was left of each finger. I think it went like this – thumb down to the knuckle, next finger was the most damaged down to her last knuckle – very little there, the middle finger, just to the first knuckle, the ring finger was just scarred and had lost the tip, same for the little finger. Mom has been dead for thirty years, so you will forgive me if I have made some mistakes.

Mom was always very stubborn, and her sons-in-law will tell you that that trait didn’t end with her in the female line!  When she was still a little girl, she was just going to enter the kitchen when she heard one aunt say to another, “Poor Laura. She won’t amount to anything with that hand .” That was when she decided there was nothing anyone  else could do that she wouldn’t do…and do it better!

Mom did not go to school for the next year as her fingers healed and she learned to use her right hand. To  show how it became so natural to her, near the end of her teaching career she was standing by a grade eight girl’s desk helping her with a problem. She was  leaning her left hand on the desk, and all of a sudden the girl cried out, “Mrs. Jones how did you hurt your hand? Are you all right?” This was probably fifty years after the accident!

She began to go to school the following September in grade one at the age of 7. There the teacher discovered she could read, and knew her numbers, and she came home as a grade 2 student! No one knows how she learned to read, as no one taught her. The only thing they figured out was that at night she used to sit on the hired man’s lap as he read the newspapers out loud, and she picked it up. She used to laugh that she came home the next  day she was in grade three, the next day in grade four and if not for long division she would have made it to grade five by the end of the first week! She had seen the pattern the older kids had made doing when doing long division, so she just copied the pattern using random numbers!

As you can probably tell Mom had a near genius IQ. Pappy was close behind, I think. She would go to him with a math problem she couldn’t get, and he would tell her the answer. He didn’t know how to solve it, but knew how it ended! Mom learned how to work back from the answer.

In each generation there is usually one person gifted in math. I am the one in our generation and as Pappy and Mom, I could never understand why you had to put all those needless steps in if you knew the answer. I can remember the frustration I felt when I wrote a perfect exam in Trig , and got 95% because I hadn’t put down all the steps. That can be a problems in other area too. I had a principal who used to say when visiting my grade three class , “That is really interesting RubyAnn. Why are you doing it?” I would say,”I am not sure. I’ll tell you tomorrow!” I would have to re-think the process and tell him the educational reason. Once I came to a process, I would forget the steps I took to get there. Fred Jones is the reason that from then started writing down to steps to defend my methods!.

Mom was the same. She was a very innovative teacher, but probably would have to ponder why she was doing it.

Mom passed the entrance exam to high school when she was eleven, and my next blog will be about her education away from home.


By the time you finish reading this, you may think I am annoyed a lot! As I said at the first, I would write sometimes about memories, and sometimes  do some musings. Today I am musing.

I got thinking about this the other day when someone called me “Ruby”. When I was little, I really disliked being  RubyAnn. No one else had that name, I wanted to be something usual like  Mary, Nancy, Elaine or Shirley. As I got older, I started to like the idea of being ‘one of a kind’! The first RubyAnn was my great, great grandmother. Apparently she was a very tall woman, and had jet black hair. I sure didn’t take after her. The next was her daughter, my great grandmother. Her name was actually Ann Ruby, and was called Ann. The next was my Aunt Ruby (she always regretted that her mother had left off the Ann) I never had a problem keeping the Ann. Everyone just knew I was RubyAnn. Even in Teachers’College and teaching. When someone would call me Ruby, I would correct them. I have never been able to figure out why, when I introduce myself, e.g., “Hi, I am RubyAnn”  some people respond, “Hi Ruby“!    Strangely, it is more of a problem since I retired. I was fairly well known in the education business, so the name went with me. I still keep correcting people when ever I can. This probably is my biggest pet peeve! One good thing about having the name RubyAnn was when my niece was starting to talk and Aunt RubyAnn was a little hard and became Aunt B’Ann. All my nephews, my niece and the ‘greats’ call me Aunt B’Ann. I love it.

Probably my next biggest peeve is the improper use of ” I ” instead of  “me”  I think some people think you should always use “I “if possible. It used to be one could rely on the news, etc. for proper grammar, and it would help everyone remember . But honestly, I have heard things like “The picture was given to Mary and I” , “This gift is from Jim and I”. If people would just check by taking out the proper name – Mary and Jim, you realize you wouldn’t say  “It was given to I”, etc.

A close second to the misuse of ” I “, is the lack of “ly” ! I would love to have some magnetic  “ly”signs  and go around adding them to Drive Carefully or Slowly, Play Safely. 

Poor Lloyd, all through a TV show he hears “ly” and “me” yelled from my chair. I really am not part of the grammar police. But these two things really annoy me. It is interesting how some people just naturally know what to say. I never heard my dad, with his grade eight education make an error . Our son Christopher is the same. I noticed when one of my granddaughters was talking, she was just naturally putting in the “ly”  TV used to be a good model – not so much any more.

Another pet peeve is when people say how lucky Lloyd and I are to have a new house and a small place in a resort in Arizona for the winter, to have my teacher’s pension, a family with little conflict, a good marriage. I guess we are, if you consider people make their own luck! Thirty-six years of teaching for me, thirty years of farming plus almost twenty years of working at a marina for Lloyd. We worked hard, spent carefully. and have two kids who want us to ‘spend their inheritance‘ by going wherever we want as long as we are able. We also have worked hard in our marriage. With hard work and God ‘s support, we have been very lucky!

I just hate to hear the ” F ” word used all the time. I will admit I am fascinated that it can be used as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb! One day I was walking on the sidewalk behind some young men, and I actually broke out laughing at how hard they were trying to ” F ” every other word. I especially dislike seeing it so much on FaceBook. It is there so much, that many people will begin to think it is alright to use it anywhere and any time. It is used so often when other words would do just as well. I seemed to have managed to live 74+ years without it and have NO trouble expressing myself. I  find it very offensive.

Have you ever noticed when listening to people being interviewed how they begin their answer?  They might start with “I mean” “Like”, “You know”. These filler phrases must give them a second to begin their actual answer. “I mean” really gets to me, because they haven’t said anything yet, so don’t really have to give a further explanation.

I probably sound like a crotchety old woman! These are just a few of my pet peeves. I am sure others will appear at this site from time to time!






I always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but when I started teaching you had to have grade eight piano. and grade two music theory to teach kindergarten! While I could play the piano, and certainly was able to teach music, my six months of piano lesson and a talent for playing by ear were not enough to get me that job. By the time that was no longer a requirement, I was part of the School of Special Education and they wouldn’t release me. I can remember how annoyed I was when I was teaching at Joyceville and the new kindergarten teacher said she could not teach music and I had to go to her class and teach music!

In the early 1980’s our school board made self-funded leaves available, and I was one of the first group to take advantage of it. For four years I was paid 80%, and the other 20% was invested, and by the fifth year I took the year off and received that saved 80%+interest as a regular salary. Before I went on leave I asked what would happen when I returned – would I be able to choose from any position available, or did I have to go back to special ed. I was told I could choose any position. I was going to leave it at that. but an older teacher said, “Get it in writing” So I sent the letter and received a written letter from the superintendent.

So for the school year 1985-1986 I had my first ever full year off. Cindy was in grade eight, and at a time when most grade 8 students didn’t want their parents around, Cindy was able to say “My mom will!”whenever a parent was needed, and could call home when she forgot her homework! My sister and her husband went to Scotland, and their three year old son stayed with us. Lloyd and I went on a cruise for a week, then stayed another week in Barbados. We came home for just one week, then took off to Venezuela for a week on a trip we had won.

Spring came and I was getting excited because the “Cattle Call” was about to happen. All the available jobs were listed, and one night all the teachers who were returning from being away, or whose job had been squeezed out by a drop in population, came to the Board office, and got to choose by seniority. Then one day the phone rang and it was the special education supervisor calling. He said that he knew I preferred a classroom, rather than in school resource teacher, so they had placed me in a special class in Bayridge.  They knew I’d be happy. I let him know in no uncertain terms that no, I was NOT happy, that I’d been told I could return to a regular class and I had a letter to prove it! So off I went to Kingston, letter in hand to the Board office, blood in my eye. I was so mad I was close to tears! I handed the letter over, and the situation was corrected. However when the superintendent remarked how lucky I was to have the letter I just glared at him.

So the job I wanted of all those listed was junior and senior kindergarten at Elginburg. Lloyd and I drove to my top three choices (I didn’t know where I was in terms of seniority, so wasn’t sure I would get my first choice.). The other schools were nice, but when we drove into the yard at Elginburg, even though it was seven o’clock at night, I felt like I had arrived home.

I had talked to the principal and told him I was interested, and he sounded agreeable to that. Then  just a day before “the” night I got a call from the principal asking me if I would apply for the grade four job, instead of kindergarten. Apparently there was a teacher looking for a place and wanted the grade four class. She had the reputation of not getting along well with students, staff or parents. She was quite obnoxious and would try to push all her opinions on a whole staff and he really didn’t want her messing up his staff.There was a man returning from leave and he wanted the grade four class. Since I was the only one who had more seniority than she did, and she wouldn’t want kindergarten, the plan was I pick the grade four, and the other man would pick the kindergarten, then we would be switched by the principal. I reluctantly agreed, although I was not happy about the deception, even if done for the right reason. That night, just before things started, the principal came over and said the situation had been fixed, and I could choose the kindergarten class – phew! I was the teacher with the most experience – 26 years, and got first pick!

So it began, finally after 26 years, I got my kindergarten class.This was a time of changes in kindergarten. For the first time junior and seniors were together. While those teachers who had taught them separately were not happy, since I didn’t know any different it was fine! I also was used to full day kindergarten, as both my kids had attended one. This was also the time when the focus was on learning through play , which was my philosophy. As a special education teacher I often worked with children, especially boys born in the last three months of the year, who had not been ready for academic work , so I was opposed to them being required to do academic work too soon.. In my class I taught mostly through games, songs and play. They learned an amazing amount just through little stories and games. I did not believe in children sitting still for long periods of time. It wasn’t until the last term that I worked with the seniors making sure they learned anything they hadn’t picked up. I absolutely loved those ten years. At first I couldn’t get over the fact that they learned the lesson the first time, after so many years when a lesson had to be taught in three different ways to get it across!

As well as my class I was involved with other school activities. We did a school musical every year. The very last one, I was conducting what I knew would be my last musical and fought tears, especially the last song. I also taught some music to classes, and did a group lesson with four grades in the gym using the song games I had learned in Education Through Music. I also helped with other school wide activities and themes.

One thing I did was tell stories. I would have them give me three things they wanted in the story, and I would begin “Once upon a time, there was ………” I might have a real challenge e.g., a mirror, a cow and a puppy: a bus, a horse and a flashlight! It was fun, and grade one teachers often commented what good listeners they were. I also wouldn’t show them the pictures in a story book when I read it. When it was finished we would talk about how things in the story might look, what colour the puppy was, and then I would say “Let’s see what the person who drew the pictures thought they would look.” I felt this made them realize there wasn’t always just one right answer.

I always felt a responsibility to give the children and parents a good introduction to school life. Often a parent might have had no experience with school since they were in school, and that might not have been a good experience. I sort of taught the parents, right along  with the kids!

I also was sometimes the first person who had said “no” to the little ones. Eventually they all became comfortable with the structure, and went along being little sponges absorbing everything along the way.

The classes were either the BUNNIES or the STARS. They came two days one week and three the next. At the end of the year we had a kindergarten graduation. They had their hats, received a certificate from the principal, and sang a song from each month, sort of reviewing the year in song.

Of course, there are stories.

One is the privilege I had to teach two children who came from Romania. They were “crib’ babies, who spent almost all of each day in their crib in an orphanage. The first boy had not been in Canada long, and still had the uneven gait from not walking on solid ground very often. He also did not have a lot of English, but it didn’t take long for him to fit in. By the time his sister started (They were not related by blood) she had no problems with the language or physical activity. Their mother was wonderful with them and with me. She brought a photo album from Romania so I could understand how their life had started. They are now all grown up and still so attractive with their dark eyes and hair. This is one of my favourite memories.

Another incident is probably the funniest of all my 36 years of school stories. One day at noon, a little JK student came running up the hall calling my name. I went out to the hall and S. says, “Mrs. Chase, Mrs. Chase, He said the “B” word.” I said “What?” He repeated, ” He said the “B” word!” So in my mind, I am going through all the possible “B” word. Finally I said “S. What did he say?”  So S. says, “He said “F*** !” With great difficulty I solemnly told him to go tell the boy he shouldn’t say that. Then I went back into the staff room, shut the door, collapsed on the couch and howled! When I could stop laughing, I told the teachers. One of them said, “No wonder we’re having trouble teaching phonics!” To my last day, I will remember looking down into those very blue eyes in a sweet little face topped with blond hair, and him looking at me so seriously as he said, “F***”!

One other scary time did not happen at school. One night a coffee maker in the home of one of my little girls shorted out and there was a fire, and C. made her way across the kitchen floor on her hands and knees to escape. It was so frightening.

I have told you about the funniest time, but the saddest will also always be in my memory. One day the father of one of my JK boys was shoveling snow and had a heart attack at the age of 38 and died. The poor little boy never really understood Daddy wasn’t coming back. His mom wanted to sell the big gravel truck, but he wanted it left there for Daddy when he came home.

I could write page after page about those kids. Two classes of 25 each for ten years made a lot of memories.

At that time our school board was encouraging teachers to move to different school after seven years. The only exception was if you were within three years of retiring. By the time I had been there seven years, I was within three years of retirement. I would have moved to another school as I had never considered retiring so young, but I was so disturbed by the way education was going, especially kindergarten, that Lloyd and I decided I had better plan to retire, or I would be fired because I refused to do what I knew was wrong.  I would not start emphasizing academic work for these young kids, when they were not ready. That was not what kindergarten was meant to be. Yes, they did learn a lot, but not the way that was being promoted, and I refused to do assessments for junior kindergarten. There was plenty of time for that. My job was to prepare them for that, to teach them how to learn, to learn to work in groups, to be thoughtful of others. So I sent in a request to be allowed to stay there for the last three years.

I have been blessed in my life. I have a wonderful marriage- almost 55 years, two children and their spouses who all treat me with love and respect, and four beautiful granddaughters who think I am the greatest! I also am so blessed to have been a teacher from age 17 until 54. I have learned so much from them, and hope they remember me with fondness and an awareness that I never wanted anything but the best for them. It was a long time from the first Tuesday, September, 1960 until the end of June, 1996. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with hundreds of MY KIDS