For seven years I went to Holy Souls Catholic School with two grades in the same room. The summer before I began my eighth grade year, my parents decided to transfer me to Pampa Junior High School, not too far from our house. Finally, I was able to go to school with all the neighborhood children. A whole group of us walked to school together, down Browning Street to Cuyler, where the two story, yellow brick school building stood. The gymnasium was in one corner of the city block and the school in another portion of the block. The school building is no longer there, but my memories of it are still vivid. I recall the musty, old book, and dusty chalkboard smell that struck my nose the first time I set foot in that building.
The latter part of my seventh grade year, I fell madly in love with a cute neighbor boy, Billy, who lived just a block from us. Now, hopefully, we would be in the same classes and could walk to school with each other—maybe even do our homework together after school. Oh, yes! My daydreams were extremely specific along those lines.
I went to register for eighth grade. My neighborhood friends had warned me repeatedly to avoid—at all costs—getting the dreaded Miss Clubb. She had a reputation of being the most terrible history teacher in the whole school! I quaked in my boots when I heard her name because she had such a frightful reputation. In my worst thoughts about her, I could see her stomping around the school in huge combat boots with a big club, making life miserable for all the students.
On the first day of school I was holding my breath to see what teacher I had for history. I just knew that I would die a slow and horrible death if I got Miss Clubb. I had had weeks of nightmares about being in her class. I was nervous about starting a new school anyway, but the thought of having to spend a whole terrible year with Miss Clubb was almost more than I could endure. That first day I looked at my class assignments and, naturally, I had Miss Clubb for history and my world came clattering down around my earlobes—and to make matters worse, Billy was not in any of my classes. I was certain I would not survive my eighth grade year. I went home sobbing and hoped my mother would bail me out. Instead, she encouraged me to try a few days in Miss Clubb’s class. That was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I trudged back to school the next day—walking slowly and dragging my feet as I followed Billy to school. I was way too shy to ask if I could walk with him, so I followed about a half block behind, like a lovesick puppy.
As the days turned into weeks, my time in Miss Clubb’s history class was surprisingly interesting. She was a strict disciplinarian and did not allow any mischief in her class. To be truthful Miss Clubb turned out to be a tiny, soft-spoken woman with white hair braided and pinned up on top of her head. She gave us difficult assignments, but I became wrapped up in them and developed a real love for history as the year progressed. I will always be grateful to “the dreaded Miss Clubb” for treating me to a priceless year of history in her class. And I learned an important lesson—not to always believe my friends and their assessment of teachers.
While my love for history blossomed and grew that year, my puppy love did not flourish because, in my shyness, I never did figure out how to engage in conversation with Billy. It was not until several years later that we became friends and I learned that he was just about as shy as I was. We still stay in touch with each other occasionally, almost 50 years later. We met recently at a class reunion and he is still very sweet and cute. Sigh!
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