Monday, February 01, 2010

1801 Truman Drive


As it happens, I visited the exact site where this post took place just now. You see above, in all its glory, 1801 Truman Drive. My apologies for how dark that photo is [edited to add: this photo should appear somewhat improved now]. For various reasons, I do not have access to photo editing software and the house was terribly back lit (and I had only my bberry at the ready). You can likely tell the place is your average 1970s generican house, but like any one's childhood home (I lived there ages 7-15) it holds more memories for me than this beige exterior suggests. In my youth, the house was painted a barn red, was wood rather than vinyl sided, and those are not the original windows.

Like many houses on the frozen central Illinois tundra, the place features a full basement which equated for me to an enormous skating rink. Or rather it was what I THOUGHT was enormous at the time. (It is still enormous in my mind.) An average Saturday morning back in those days here would find me bounding out of bed, hopping down the steps, lacing on my skates, queueing up the soundtrack to, say, "Oklahoma" on my pea green record player and skating in endless circles as I sang along. I knew every word and note; the same can be said of the "Wizard of Oz" soundtrack, the "Sound of Music" soundtrack and others. I was a very show-tuney kid.

One corner of the basement was devoted full-time to my "classroom". In those days, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would grow up and be a teacher, an ambition that I now find abhorrent. Regardless, the corner classroom was elaborate and perpetually in session in case the mood struck me do to a little lecturing. I had a stand-up chalkboard, a bulletin board that changed seasonally (themed--pumpkins in October, snowflakes in the winter, hearts in February, etc.), my teacher's desk, an authentic gradebook just like the teachers used, curriculum books, and desks filled with my dolls and stuffed animals as students. Each student had a profile, there was the "smart" student, my doll, Elizabeth, the middle-of-the-road student, my stuffed Rabbit, and the problem student, Charlie, my ventriloquist doll who never studied or made more than a "D" and was constantly disruptive in class. Despite my best efforts, Charlie never improved as a student.

Don't think I was teaching in my street clothes and my skates either. Oh, heavens no. The getting ready for a teaching session often lasted as long or longer than the session itself. I had a separate wardrobe for my teacher self which included hand-me-down dresses from my cousins that I found appropriate, or cast-offs from my Mother's extensive (and I do mean extensive) wardrobe. My teacher's garb included high-heels, always skirts. And make-up. Full-face make-up with lots and LOTS blush, robin's egg blue eye-shadow and Maybelline Great Lash. (The make-up also culled from my Mom's cast-offs). Once appropriately dressed, powdered and coiffed (think Aqua Net), there was much time devoted to the choosing of the proper Teaching Jewelry. For this aspect of The Look, I had access to my own as well as my mother's jewelry boxes. Often, The Look would require earrings, necklace, bracelet AND a pin in order to make the proper statement. As a final, but still not-to-be-taken-lightly step, the Proper Perfume was spritzed on liberally. Very. Liberally. Normally, I chose from my own collection for same: Babe, Charlie, Love's Baby Soft, Heaven Scent, or Cache. Usually Cache. Cache was Serious Perfume. For Serious Teachers.

Once transformed, I spent a considerable amount scrutinizing my teacher self in the mirror from every angle, verifying that, indeed, I had perfectly captured the The Look. After that, I decorously pranced down the basement steps to face the daunting task of pounding the three R's into the reluctant heads of my students.

It was a lot of work.

9 comments:

Nikki D. May said...

There MUST be pictures of you in your teacher garb!

Jeanna said...

OMG, I can picture this! Serious Business!

met said...

hahaha The description of your students is falling down funny, (especially of the incorrigible Charlie) as is your determination to get the makeup, clothes and jewelry for this difficult task just right.

This post is priceless!

Suzanne said...

Nikki: Good thought, but I really don't think there are any images of me in full teacher garb. Oh, how I WISH there were!

Suzanne said...

Thanks, MET!

Patience-please said...

You're writing again! Yay!

Brenda said...

A wonderful post, sweetie! It really takes me back...

Suzanne said...

Yes, it seems I am back to it, Patience. I'm just giving myself permission to write whatever whenever. I'm not sure when I revoked that permission ;) Appreciate your support.

Annette said...

I am drawn back to your blog from time to time because despite the fact that we seem to lead very different lives there are so many times that your writing really has a kindred spirit feel. This is one of those posts. My brother signed up for the Columbia record club unbeknownst to my dad, who tightly controlled all purchases. Somehow my mom got around my dad's objections and we got to keep the subscription, but by some quirk we were signed up for the Broadway series. So, the soundtrack of our lives included those you mentioned as well as West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, etc. My sister and I had elaborate routines for each record including a hilarous one (in our opinion) for "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" that was only enhanced by the record always sticking on the word "bloomers".
Our basement was also a schoolroom complete with a school desk and blackboard. My sister was the teacher (she was 6 years older) and I was the sometimes willing student along with our dolls. Unfortunately, the teacher was a strong supporter of corporal punishment and I received more paddlings from her than I ever did when I was actually a student. Perhaps because of my early training. Anyway, thanks for the memories and I hope you keep writing because you are just so damn good at it!