After I completed my trying third grade experience at Burnsville Grade School in 1951, I thought that the rest of elementary school would be a piece of cake. Miss Georgia Haymond, my venerable third grade teacher, would brook no nonsense or senseless chatter from the roomful of testy students, and had a thick maple paddle to back up her short stature. I came to know the business-end of that well-worn paddle on quite a few occasions, as did most of the boys in her class, and a few of the girls as well.
I was hoping to be able to sit in the same fourth grade chair that Sue Knight, a cute blonde haired girl on whom I had a secret crush, had sat in. The only problem was- I didn’t know what chair she had sat in. But, being only a fourth grader, a school-boy crush only lasted until the next cute girl passed by. So, in the fall of 1951, I moved on to the fourth grade, only one year to go before I could enter the fifth grade and move to the second floor of the Burnsville school building. What an accomplishment that would be! But first, I had the fourth grade to contend with.
The fourth grade room at Burnsville Grade School was a large room, filled with stationary desks, securely fastened to the floor. A large gas burning stove stood in the middle of the room, entirely adequate to heat the room beyond need during the months of winter. Approximately 42 desks surrounded the stove and most all of the desks were filled with urchins, still rambunctious from summer vacation. It took all of about sixty seconds for this wild bunch to be broken, tamed, and put securely in their place, never again to act the rogue, or to test the patience of Miss Thomas. Only once did this writer test her resolve to be the absolute ruler of her domain. A math test containing fifty division problems involving dollars and cents was distributed during the first weeks of class. Since I was a fair math student, I finished the assignment quickly and with the utmost confidence that I had gotten all fifty of the questions correctly answered. I strode to the teacher’s desk, the first to finish the test, and handed it to the unblinking, unimpressed and stoic Miss Thomas. Smugness, you might say, quickly changed to doom when Miss Thomas just as confidently strode to my desk and handed me my test, marked with a big red “O.” No, that was not for “Outstanding” but rather because out of fifty questions, I had gotten zero correct. Her admonition was that if I were dividing dollars and cents, the quotient must include a dollar sign, and, in forgetting this important detail, all of my answers were incorrect. I quickly learned that when Miss Thomas acted, there was to be no reaction other than to express remorse in a silent, non-demonstrative way. I forget just exactly what my ill-timed response was, but I do remember that it was followed by a quick trip to the cloak room and a painful introduction to the fourth grade paddle. After school that day, I sullenly made my way home, thinking about the story I was going to tell my mother about my unjust punishment. After relating to her my tale of woe, much to my surprise, I received another paddling because I had received a paddling at school. Thus, I learned the moral of the story. If you get a paddling at school, don’t say a thing about it at home, because there is always more of that where that came from.
Right: Marshal and Virginia (Thomas) Funkhouser at their home in Florida.
Sadly, I was informed a few days ago that Virginia (Thomas) Funkhouser had passed away. Not only had she