The Beatles and Mrs. Bartley

My Nebraska friends and family responded with vigor to the one-room school house blog, so I decided to do one more.

The demise of our school, District 20, in the 90s saddened many of us in our local farming community. Life was changing and good farmland was more valuable then an abandoned school building, and so it was torn down.

I attended District 20 from first to eighth grade with just twenty students total in the whole school. One fond eighth-grade memory in 1964 came when the Beatles hit the US. With two of my classmates and one younger schoolmate we pantomimed The Fab Four for our annual Christmas program. Everything was homemade except the wigs that we purchased at the dime store. The microphones were reeds of dried sunflower stalks with aluminum foil balls at the top. We constructed the guitars out of salvaged plywood from my dad’s shop. Ringo’s drums were made out of empty gallon ice cream containers and a washtub, and the symbols were tin foil pie pans. Ringo proudly banged on the drum set atop our teacher’s desk with the blackboard as our backdrop.

After High School I lost touch with Mrs. Bartley, my first grade school teacher (name changed for confidentiality). Then in 2016, through her sister-in-law, I discovered her alive and well and retired in Arizona. I called Mrs. Bartley to tell her I wrote about her in my book and how special she was. We both choked up recalling that important bond – student and teacher. A couple years later I visited her and captured this treasured moment. She is still sharp as a tack at age 86.

I discovered she actually became a grade school teacher at age seventeen with a teaching certificate from a local college. She came to District 20 when she was twenty years old, her second teaching assignment.

Here is one excerpt from my book, In Search of Pink Flamingos, Part I, Chapter, Stuck in the Middle:

As the only left-handed member in my family or in my school, I felt even more different. Fortunately, Mrs. Bartley, my grade school teacher, was the first person outside my family to have such a profound influence over my life. During my first grade penmanship class, she took note of my left hand cranked nearly upside down over my paper. Never once did she slap my hand or try to make me change, as so many other parents and teachers had done. Mrs. Bartley gently guided my hand downward as she turned my paper to my left so I didn’t have to crank my hand over to write. With her guidance and encouragement, my penmanship transformed from an awkward backhand to a lovely print. She accepted my uniqueness and didn’t try to change me. I will never forget her.

…And I never did!

Nebraska has a special place in my heart and set the foundation for the rest of my life. More about scenes from my book and the Nebraska life will be featured in my next blog.

You may order my book directly from my website by clicking the BOOK link above. Please comment or contact me and check out more blogs containing photos and companion stories about In Search of Pink Flamingos.

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