One day while my best friend, Emily and I sat licking banana popsicles beside the honeysuckle bush in my backyard, Mother called out. 'Girls, she is not retiring."
Emily let out a shriek. I simply cannot believe it," I said. A snarly frown of resignation replaced my sunny smile. All summer long Emily and I had crossed our fingers and hoped and prayed that Miss Agness Felch,, the fourth-grade teacher, would retire. No such luck!
Mother told us Miss Felch had been quoted as saying, "I have devoted many years of my life teaching the children of this community, and I shall continue."
"Just you wait until you see Miss Felch's mean-rage dance," my sister warned that night at dinner. She chuckled. "You're in for it," she said with a knowing air.
Before I knew what had happened, the lazy days of summer passed, and I found myself seated in Miss Felch's classroom, apprehensive, shaking inside, and afraid act like myself.
"These rules will be followed diligently, or else," Miss Felch announced, tapping her ruler sharply on the chalkboard. She barked at us in her raspy voice, her hump- backed figure clad in a long gray skirt, white blouse with cameo pin at the neck, her face powdery white, like a corpse.
One look at her piercing eyes, however, and you knew Miss Agnes Felch was very much alive. The slightest infringement of her rules resulted in a sharp ruler – rap on the head. Serious offenses meant Miss Felch would implement the famous Felch ear pull.
One day during silent reading, Willie threw a spitball at Betty Lou. Miss Felch looked up just in time to see it smack Betty Lou on the cheek. "Oh no you don't," she said." As she struggled to get out of her chair, Willie sat rigid as a statue. As Miss Felch neared his seat across from mine in the back of the room, I hard a trickle hit the floor. Looking under his desk, I saw a yellow puddle starting to edge out into the aisle.
When she reached Willie's desk, Miss Felch's feet flew out from under her. Her gray skirt flew up and covered her face. She landed on her bottom, her white bloomers on display for all to see.
She squirmed around, then managed to pull herself up, glaring, She yanked poor Willy by the ear. Out of the room they went. Willy's screams echoed down the hallway. When Miss Felch returned, Willy was not with her. She had sent him home. We were all quietly reading. Willie came back to school the next day. H,e never, ever through another spitball.
My turn came in music class.
"Hold your tonette in your left hand, the raising your arm," Miss Felch instructed the whole class, reminding us that was the arm on which we wore our watches. Unfortunately for me, my Mickey Mouse watch was on the wrong arm.
"Young lady," she cried out, wrapping my head with the ruler,
"I said left arm."
Holding back tears, I hurried to the corner at her instructions and stood like an infantry soldier for fear she would go after my ear.
After school, Emily bought me a chocolate sundae to heal my crushed ego.
The year seemed to crawl by at a snails pace. The exception was on days we had math. Then, Miss Felch shined. She had a calculating mind when sharing her mathematical genius.
However, when we had reading class her genius went down the tubes. She insisted that we read the same story over and over again every singleday of the school year. "Miss Felch," a brave Connie asked one day, " could we please go on to the next story in our reader?"
"Absolutely not," she replied. We will read "The Return of the Puddle Duck. " It is a wonderful tale. Connie rolled her big brown eyes. Miss Felch sent her to sit in the corner. After what seems like a gazillion years, I will can still recite the opening page of "The The Return of the Puddleduck.
One day during health, Evelyn giggled when Miss Felch read to us about having regular movements. "What's so amusing?" she asked Evelyn, who turned several shades of red.
"Nuh...nuh..nothing," stuttered Evelyn. A rap on the head made Evelyn a shy little creature for the rest of the year.
As the year crept by, we managed to have some good times. We sang Happy Birthday as Miss Felch surprised us with cupcakes to celebrate her 81st birthday. When Danny belched in the middle of singing America th eBbeautiful one day, Miss Felch pretended not to hear. That day, she seemed real like an aunt or even somebody's grandma.
In February, someone sent a Valentine to Miss Felch describing undying love for her and signed Eddie's name. We never found out who did it, but Eddie was not pleased.
On the last day of school that year, a knowing smile crossed Miss Felch's face when she opened her gift from the class. Holding on to her box of chocolates--bittersweet -- her new ruler and her new earmuffs, she dismissed us saying, "Read children; stopped to look at the flowers, the birds, and be grateful for wisdom."
Skipping and singing, I ran home feeling like I'd been released from prison. Telling the class behind us all of those wicked Miss Felch stories sounded like fun. I couldn't wait.
However, it wasn't meant to be. Two weeks after school let out, Miss Felch died. Tears came to my eyes when I learned she had donated her small savings to buy playground equipment for the schoolyard. After so many years I still remember many of her ideas. Actually, I'd like to spend just one more day in her classroom. I wish I could be nice to her. She cared, I know that now. After having our class, perhaps, she deserved rest in peace.
I did see Willy at a high school reunion sometime back maybe it was my imagination, but I'd swear that one earlobe seemed longer than the other.