March 03, 2005

Teechie's Story: Part II

Welcome back to the life story of my great-great aunt Teresa Burke. When last we met, Teresa was telling us about growing up one of seven children in Kern County, California, in the early 1900s. She liked stick horses and her loud mother. In this installment, we'll take a look at Teechie's career: Teaching! Get it?

But first, a few words about her siblings - my great-great aunts and uncles:

My Brothers and Sisters

My sister Mary was most like my mother. If I wanted advice, or wanted to talk over something, Mary was the one I could talk to. She was the closest to me of anyone in the family.

Nora and I were too much alike, I guess. We couldn't discuss anything without arguing about it. She was a big-hearted person, a self-sacrificing person. She gave of herself always. She was a saint, no question about it.

Jim and I were pretty close together. I argued with him, too. When he died, I said, "Well now I won't have anyone to fight with."
[What about Nora?] He was fun to argue with because he'd blow up, and then come around and say he was sorry. I remember one time we had an argument about something, I can't even remember what... and not much later, there was Jim. He said, "This is foolish." He had some vegetables as a peace offering.

Catherine, or Dolly, was mentally defective, and an epileptic. She never reached mental maturity as a result of having whooping cough when she was a baby.

Margaret was a real bright child. She was in St. Francis School in the fourth grade when she got meningitis, and died very quickly. I was around 16 when she died.

Walter was the pride and joy. He finished college, and became a professional man, a dentist. Jim should have been the professional man, because he liked that kind of life much better; Walter would always rather put on his blue jeans and work outside.

My Career

I went through junior college in Bakersfield, after which God called me, and I went into teaching. This was in 1916. It was the end of the year, the last month of school, when the teacher out at Wible School, a man, broke his leg riding a motorcycle. I had passed the teacher's exam, and had a credential, but was too young to teach, so I'd been waiting. Then they asked me to teach there for a month. I was 18 when I started teaching.

One student was a big Portuguese boy, just a couple of months younger than I, a very nice man. Another student was a big black man. They were the nicest pupils a teacher could ever want. It was a little one-teacher schoolhouse. We had the minimum of things to use. We brought our own baseballs and bats. We had the best baseball team in the county. It was really fun for me. I stayed on the next year, and earned $80 for six months.

Nora was teaching at Panama, and we were rivals. Mine was a small school; hers was the largest school in the baseball league, but I had the biggest kids
[well, sure, what with all those Portuguese guys and big black men...].

I stayed at Wible School for a year, then they decided to merge with the Stine School... There was already one teacher, but they took me. So there was Amy and me. Amy was a great person to teach with. She taught one year with me, and then Alice came, and she was great, too.

Every noon at recess we'd get out and play ball. We enjoyed playing; that was our main thing. We had tournaments with ten schools, and we defeated them all until the very last. Then Standard beat us. But the parents were as interested in our baseball games as we were. We'd close school early, and take off for those afternoon games.

We lit a fire in the schools. The last year I was at Stine, we cooked our hot meals there. I instigated it.
[Sassy!] Children would bring the vegetables, and I'd get stew meat or a soup bone or some beans. We cooked on a great big old stove. Nowadays you wouldn't be able to do that, the Health Department would get onto you.

I taught at Stine for four years, and decided if I was ever to go on to to bigger things, I'd have to get some more experience. So I began looking around. I applied to four different schools in Kern County. Wasco was the last place I wanted to go. Wasco was the first place that answered... I was making $1200 a year after teaching only four years. Some of the teachers heard about it and didn't like it, especially the ones who had been there a long time. So I asked to have my salary cut. I didn't want any hard feelings, and money didn't mean that much to me.

I don't remember the war affecting my life too much. There were fewer young men around, I suppose, although it always seemed there were some. We used to have dances every weekend at the Legion Hall in Wasco, and we never had any problem getting somebody to take us to the dance.

I taught in Wasco 38 years. I taught seventh grade the first year, and eighth grade the rest of the time. In 1939 they pushed me into being principal of Thomas Jefferson School. I didn't have an office girl, or anyone to help me. I had 40 eighth-graders, and had to handle the office and the phones as well as buying the supplies and handling the discipline. One of the trustees came to visit me one day, and he saw what a problem I had, so he went back to the trustees and made them give me an office girl to take care of things so I could teach.

In 1939 I began as principal at Thomas Jefferson. I went to Europe that summer, and came back the day before school started. I landed back in New York on the day that World War II was declared.

Well, folks, that's all for now. In our final installment, we'll hear from Teechie about her travels. Evidently strange men constantly invited her and her friends to come home with them. Until next time!

1 comment:

sebait pesan said...

its nice to read about brotherhood in family. having a lot of brother and sister its really meaningfull. even i dont have any sister. i just have 5 old brother and 1 young brother