No one may read all of this, but here we go – lol

Thank you to Miss Clinton, who’s first name I sadly don’t remember. I think it was Lynn. My kindergarten teacher at Pendergast way back in the early 70’s. I don’t remember much, but I remember she was unmarried, blonde, pretty, tall (but then I was 4…) and really very kind. Her kindness made the separation from home for the first time, easier. It’s a very hard transition for a child. Freedom to system-slavedom. I had no preschool, it just wasn’t as common back in the day as it apparently is now. I had the impression it was something extra you paid for and we never had that kindof money. Especially as the last of 5 kids. And yes I started school at 4 years old, because of where my birthday falls. Apparently nowadays they make kids wait a whole year later until they’re 5-almost-6 to start, if their birthday doesn’t fall quite right.   She had a bright cheerful smile and a kind countenance. Good qualities for a kindergarten teacher. Thank you.

Thank you, oh thank you, to Mr. Geroux, who’s name spelling I just probably slaughtered (pronounced “geroo”). My 1st grade teacher at Desert Horizon, which had only opened the previous season. I’m sure the school, pristine and sparkly new then, is now quite grisled and worn. Mr. Geroux is the cause of many great smiles still now. When you were there as a little kid in the early 1970’s you weren’t as aware of “movements” and cultures as you come to be later. I had already learned of the great Rock vs. Disco war – haha Rock wins  (sorry Jackie !  – oldest sister who was on the wrong side of that family argument, at the time). The rest was awash in the background, the world was fresh and new and as it was, I knew no other. I have since looked back on a picture of my 1st grade class, and cannot stop laughing and smiling. Mr. Geroux was, as we now know, a “flower child”. I had no idea. Looking back – it’s obvious. Haha. I love him so. He was so nice! His hair cut just above shoulders so he could teach, his full mustache, the little brown open vest he wore every day, he brought his acoustic guitar to class with him, always. Thank you for trying to teach me some Spanish (fail), and for singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” to us at least every other day, if not every day. We requested our Puff guitar-singing teacher moment, if he tried to skip it. He was wonderful.  That’s still, and I thought at the time, one of the most depressing songs ever, really..but still I loved it. It’s permanently tied to Mr. Geroux, now. It pays to have a signature song, haha. Ok and just you never mind the fact that in that old photo I’m wearing bright red polyester bell bottoms with very large white flowers imprinted on them. I was 5, I didn’t dress myself!

Thank you to Ms. Eurek, whom I wont’ spend too much time on here because I believe I have a whole other blog somewhere about her. The 2nd grade teacher who had figured out already that the last of the 5 children, got pretty much lost and passed over and had no attention. No one talked to me, really, except my next-older sister Leigh who did teach me to write my name, to read, those kinds of things pre-going to school. A 7 year old was the teacher of the 4 year old lol. The others were busy already in their own lives and dramas. Such is the way of things, I suppose. Ms. Eurek was the one to realize that my best friend Cindy & I weren’t “talking in class” so much as Cindy was explaining the lesson to me. I was a little slow and had trouble paying attention, was always spaced off even then (no, not really attention deficit b’c I was focused, just totally focused on something else more interesting going on in my creative brain). Ms. Eurek caught on pretty quickly, and when she’d re-arrange the seats she always made sure to sit Cindy next to me. I think I even vaguely remember the moment she realized what we were talking about because I remember her pausing quietly once within earshot and just eavesdropping on us, and after that we never once got in trouble for talking in class, like everybody else did. Might have seemed unfair to the other students, but I bet not. They knew, plus Cindy was actually the school bully so none of them would have questioned her lol. Cindy & I were very much good-cop/bad-cop in a way haha. I was super shy and would only really speak to Cindy, though was polite and smiled at everyone else. Cindy well…she understood me and was nice to me. We grew up together from age 2 (although that was cut off when I moved only a little while later). Ms. Eurek eventually got in trouble for paying so much attention to me, for trying to get me to open up, and was asked to leave the school. That was not-kosher, at the time. I think that happened just before the end of the year and we got some other teacher to finish it out, but I have no memory whatsoever of that other teacher. I was suddenly in a foreign world with math lessons I didn’t understand because the new teacher wasn’t as wise as Eurek.

3rd grade, I sortof got saved…I *was* to have Miss Styles (who got married sometime in there and became Mrs. Bloom). I liked her so much I was utterly terrified to be in her class. You see, she had all my older siblings and my older siblings were all born prodigies. She literally pushed Leigh up to 8th grade math just to get her to *miss* a problem. I, as we can see, was not so much. Math was and is SO not my thing. We had Miss Styles over to dinner fair often in those early years (when I was in kinder, 1st & 2nd grade)…parents had teachers over for dinner back then. Don’t think so now. She was awesome – she had this little car with one of the odd horns that makes a funny toon and she’d honk it when she drove up just to get us all laughing. She was very nice and always so astounded and impressed by my brilliant older siblings. She always expressed how much she looked forward to having -me- in her class, and I’m sure I went pale every time. And we registered for 3rd grade, and I recall originally Cindy & I weren’t in the same class and we managed to fix that. I have no idea how parents explained that to the administration to get us into the same class. However, that didn’t happen anyhow because somewhere just before that our family suffered some kind of financial difficulty and we had to move to a poorer neighborhood, a poorer house, over on 47th Drive. So I while I admit I was so greatly relieved to escape the humiliation of having Miss Styles learn I wasn’t as brilliant as my older siblings…I got ripped away from Cindy my best friend, and this utterly shy little girl was suddenly the “new kid” at a new school (Andalusia).

I have scrambled memories of 3rd grade and the first part of 4th grade at that school. Times were hard for me. Mom & Dad were arguing much, and then got divorced, mom showed up with a new boyfriend she picked up at the bar (she just randomly brought a man home from a bar – that was her way of getting Dad to finally grant her the divorce, as he didn’t want to). That man moved in as Dad moved out, and he was very very strict, mean, possessive and drunk.

However, I can thank Ms. Powell…a little gray haired lady I know taught some subject in 3rd grade. Granted, I mostly remember her because her house was only a couple of blocks away, on the way to school even, and at Halloween she let us kids she knew grab as much candy as we wanted. haha. Way to remember a teacher. Andalusia I mostly remember we had to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at the Arizona State Flag…odd and for some reason stuck in my head. I suppose Arizona must have the same head strong independence feeling that Texas has, just with less reason (was not its own nation…). And I recall it with a sense of trauma because of this “new program” they were trying out on us kids…I was part of an experiment there. Apparently, though Math is certainly not my subject, I always scored unusually high on Reading Comprehension tests. I was very articulate for a 3rd grader, which is odd in that I never had books to read as a child. The only thing around to read was the Webster’s Dictionary – which had cool articles in the back of it about stuff. Mini-encyclopedia, sortof. I still have that very same old brown Webster’s Dictionary, I recall from my earliest days on West Whitton Cul de sac (after sisters taught me to read some, of course). It’s quite beaten up by now, but dammit it’s in a box somewhere here lol. But I wasn’t allowed books, we were poor. And mom insisted that if I checked stuff out from a library I wouldn’t return it or something would happen to it that would inevitably result in a fine of some sort, so I wasn’t allowed. She was terrified of the possible fines, so no books!

Anyway, Andalusia got this idea that they would teach some of us kids with good reading comprehension to *speed read* at the same time as teaching us to read better. This was a very traumatizing experiment. They would set 3 or 4 of us down at a half moon table in a dark room, with a screen in front of us and project paragraphs  on the screen at a very fast pace – only part of the words illuminated at a time so that’s all we could see and were forced to try to keep the projector’s pace. Afterword, we would take a comprehension test on what we read. This was horrible. Far too stressful for 3rd graders – we were so freaked out by it, knowing we’d be tested, that we didn’t have the control not to ask the person next to us what that line was and in doing so would miss like, 3 more lines. It was terrible. I was aware that not all the kids in my class were being subjected to this method. Just some of us. Those of us that were would return to the rest of the class like soldiers limping off a battlefield. Dejected and exhausted and we’d only been away for a little while. And then Math we were supposed to take “self-paced” but they’d sit us at these little cubicles with a tape player and a math lesson on tape and we were supposed to be able to learn from that cassette tape. SO didn’t work. No one to ask questions of. Mostly resulted in frustration and tuning-out.

And during my second year at Andalusia, 4th grade, I somehow convinced mom & her boyfriend Lyle to let me join The Girl Scouts! (okay I admit now there was this really cute blonde in it I guess I had a crush on). I finally started to make a few friends and -almost- open up a little bit, then we moved. I was a Girl Scout for a whole 2 weeks of life. Yep, you heard it here. haha.

Though mom had gotten the house in the divorce (dad got the nice new tv, dammit), possessive Lyle had started his abusive schtick and manipulated her into giving up every asset in her name and being totally dependent upon him. He, in just maybe a short year, had isolated her from her old friends, talked her out of her personal assets, insisted she hang around with him and his bar friends exclusively, and all my older siblings smelled trouble quickly and were up and off to live with their father in California (they all have 1 father, I have another). I was actually ok with it when Mom & Dad got divorced…this still freaks out mom… at maybe only 7 or 8 years old I was mature enough to understand that there were problems that had nothing to do with me, that dad still loved me and I had already figured out on my own somehow that “dad” was not my “father” (my father is unknown). This came up because dad legally wiggled out of paying child support (easier than to do than now, I think). Though he had legally adopted me and given me a last name at around age 2, since he was not my biological father he was able to argue in court not to pay child support. I remember her pulling me aside one day to say “John’s not your real father” and I quickly replied “Oh, I know that” and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman turn more pale or look more utterly confused. Some things you just -know-, or at least I do, I can’t explain it. It had nothing to do with John (aka “dad”), I loved him much and he’s the only dad I’ve ever had…even if it was only for those first few years. But I knew.

I’m telling you this now because the first greatest moment of pure heart-stricken absolute soul wrenching heartbreak in my life was the day I found out that Leigh was going to leave, and I would have my big sister no more. Hell, my eyes water up just now typing this, still. I would suddenly go from 3 older siblings around to pull the neighborhood together and play with (Jackie the oldest was kicked out when I was very young still, on Whitton..but still had my brother and Leigh & Lore)…to being an Only Child. I was really very dependent on Leigh. She was my translator for the world of things I didn’t yet understand. Leigh payed attention to me, at least sometimes (haha). No one else did. They were older and involved in their own things. I don’t blame any of them. I don’t blame Leigh. She was still so young herself at the time…maybe 10, or 11? And needed to get away. It was obvious to everyone -but- deeply in love and manipulated mom that Lyle was BAD NEWS in all caps. When her friends tried to tell her, he isolated her from them. That’s just what they do. The others had a safe place to go, they needed to go. Their father would have them.Here is where I overheard a conversation that has been warm in my heart for all of time since. My 2nd-oldest sister Lore, a young teenager at the time, said “What about S—-i?? (me)…we can’t just *leave* her.”. Those overheard words have rung warm and beautiful in my ears all my life. Lore tried to stay, for me. She didn’t want to abandon me to my fate.

However, Lyle moved us into a teeny tiny house (now against all possible building regulations, I’m sure) that had a total of 4 rooms: a tiny kitchen, a bedroom off the side of that, a small front living room which would serve as Mom & Lyle’s bedroom (no door) and a tiny bathroom. Having successfully separated Mom from all her own people places and most of her things, and making her totally dependent upon Him for everything – the *real* abusive B-S started. Lore lasted only a few weeks, I think, before she had to go. In those weeks I recall her crying so much…crying every night, it seemed. She was heartbroken. How can you abandon your littlest sister to a life basically alone with someone you know is evil? Because you have to, you have to. I understood this even then, I agreed completely with Lore. She had to go, I couldn’t take her crying so much…such beautiful eyes should never cry so much. But she was agonized over the decision. As a young teenager herself, there’s only so much she can take, knowing she has other options…she had to save herself. And Lyle put us in a place from lower-middle-class to sudden abject poverty. The living conditions so sharply much worse. Lore can’t live like that. None of them should have to. I’m the only one who had no where to go. I was stuck. And really too young to be separated from mom yet anyway. [so I started life Middle Class in a brand new built home, dropped to Lower Middle Class, then into poverty and there to remain]. So after a short while of Lore trying to stay, some of her friends from California drove over to pick her up (Hansel and Gretal! Ok ok Hansel and his sister Hester – Ester? I dunno, we all called her `Gretal’ to her dismay anyway lol). Hansel was good looking and I had a little crush on him, that’s pretty much how I remember him. haha.

I start school part way through term at another new school, Mitchell. Again at first there was a scandalous teacher.

Mrs. Marshall: I thank you for being a quirky, eccentric rich old lady who simply wanted to do something useful with her life. She was somebody’s wealthy widow and very eccentric. All the other teachers there would always gossip about her and gasp in scandal at the furr-lined too-expensive clothes and rich car she’d drive up in. She had a mink stole which never failed to cause general rich-person-disgust from the other teachers in this very poor district. She had decided instead of continuing her life of  idle luxury, though childless herself, she did love children…was charmed by us…we always made her giggle… she decided she wanted to be a teacher. I always thought it was kindof cool that this rich middle-aged woman wanted to come and teach poor children. She wanted to contribute in a more real-than-money way. She was, however, completely tactless…this was a very foreign world to her that she just kindof leaped into and I remember she was always in trouble for *something* – she’d get called out of the room often to speak with bickering other teachers. She managed to bounce around all their disagreements until the one fatal mistake she made: she lived in some apparently very notorious mansion and it came about that people really wanted a tour of it so she agreed. There was great excitement, even among the most pissy uptight teachers. Well, apparently during the school tour some of the kids wandered into the master bedroom, and some of the escorting adults followed, and there were mirrors on the ceiling above the bed. Whoops. Mirrors everywhere. Not quite “G-rated”, though we were young and clueless at the time, mostly anyway, the adults certainly were not. They threw a FIT. She got fired, or agreed to go amicably or something. I was actually out sick at that time and missed the whole tour completely (poo), but heard much about it forever afterwards from the kids that were there. I was distressed to see her go. Though tactless and clumsy in teaching she clearly had good will and would have gotten better, had she been allowed to.

Thank you to Mrs. Starr, for being the most pissy, uptight teacher in the classroom across from us that made us all appreciate Mrs. Marshall so much.

I have no real memory of who filled in for Mrs. Marshall, but I don’t think there was much time left in that school year. Actually I do remember there was some substitute or other teacher there or something that came in and would discipline students by smacking their fingers hard with a ruler. I remember this because there was this black girl, Kim, who thought it was hilarious. She’d talk in class or something and the teacher would get all mad and smack her hard with the ruler and she’d crack up laughing. She had a super infectious laugh and soon we’d all be laughing. The teacher would be frustrated until by the end she had to laugh, too. Kim was just so funny.

In 5th grade there was Mr. Dale Sanchez whom I have actually tried to look up and find, to send him a thank you. You’ll know more why, later. I do wish I could send him a thank you, wherever he is I would think he’d like to know one of his 5th grade students still remembers him warmly.

Times now were very hard for me, mom & I were suffering much abuse now at the hands of an alcoholic Lyle, and I became more and more withdrawn, spacey. Stunted. Mr. Sanchez knew that something was _wrong_. He tried politely, delicately, to inquire, to have the school nurse find some excuse to examine me for bruises (Lyle was a smart bastard and knew how to hit, where to hit and keep markings minimal), to try to ask the shy, withdrawn and quiet me “questions”. Keep in mind these were different times, now around the early 80’s, and in a very conservative state, and mostly abuse was still considered a personal affair to keep out of by all. “It’s their business” was the culture. But Mr. Sanchez didn’t like what his mind was telling him and so he’d try…try to reach out to me, to pull me out of my shell, to wake me and get me involved in life. He even questioned whether I might be epileptic at one point, because I’d get so incredibly spaced off, in my own little fantasy world, that they would all be at my desk, calling my name and I’d be paralyzed with glazed eyes spaced off, not hearing them. But I wasn’t epileptic, I was just suffering, is all. Those were hard times. He never gave up on me. Mr. Sanchez continued to try to reach out to me. He would be talking sharp and strong to the class, then take a very soft nurturing tone when he’d turn to me (when I was there enough to notice it anyway doh). He would give me what extra time he could to turn in an assignment, without penalizing me too much. He understood there were extenuating circumstances. He was also a funny, good-humored man who would get me laughing when he could. Try to draw me out of that shell. It kindof worked at little bit.

Then we moved. Sometime during that year mom got up enough courage to leave Lyle. We very briefly moved to somewhere on the edge of Glendale and I was an utterly shy “new kid” at a school again. Mom had rented some run down kindof shack there but I liked it. We weren’t there very long, some associate of Lyle’s she had started flirting with, Jerry, had agreed to take her in and protect her. Jerry was a divorced family man, who had custody of his kids. Unfortunately by that time, tragedy struck his own family. Just as we were moving in, his graceful, beautiful, highly intelligent and much-loved 14 year old daughter, fell ill with leukemia and died in her mother’s arms (Jerry’s ex). I only knew her briefly before her illness, which seemed to claim her fairly quickly, but she was amazing. She was definitely the favorite of the family. So there we were with a devastated father, and mom still very much in love with Lyle. We had moved in with Jerry and were there briefly, I think only a matter of weeks. Some other school, new kid again, I mostly remember them as being incredibly stuck up. A nicer school and neighborhood than I was now used to and they didn’t like my all hand-me-downs don’t-fit poor kid wardrobe. Jerry had a daughter close to my age, Ramona, who was possibly the most annoying person I have ever met in my life. She was a complete spoiled brat, and though a little older than me would throw a very 4-yrs-old type temper tantrum anytime she didn’t get anything she wanted. Even in the light of Brenda’s (her sister’s) horrible death. Mona was spoiled and unmanageable.  The oldest, who was 17 I think at the time going on 18, Denise, was very nice and sweet. We got along well.

Anyway, we weren’t there very long at all and mom went back to Lyle. Me back at Mitchell, back in the class. What was interesting about that time was that everyone kept telling me (the kids at school) that while I was away there was some man that showed up…not Lyle…asking for me, saying he was my “father”. Wanted to see me. They all said he looked really downtrodden when they told him I wasn’t there anymore and they didn’t know where I’d went. I missed it. Bummer.

At the very end of the 5th grade year, we all heard the good news that Mr. Sanchez had got the job as Vice Principle at the Junior High, Isaac. He would start the next year. We were all very excited about this, so happy for him…we would be his last 5th grade class, then he’d move on to Promotion! Which he very much deserved.

6th grade was still at Mitchell and …Mrs. Karin? Oh I’m sad I can’t clearly remember her name because I was fond of her. She was a warm woman with a genuine interest in engaging us in our education. I remember she’s the one who figured out that reading to us for a few minutes after recess would calm us down and put us back into an open, learning mood…without it being flat “quiet time” like some teachers tried that would just sap the interest right out of the students. Instead of total quiet, she went for storytime. She took suggestions on the books. First we got read “Hey, Dummy” which I recall as a very good book. And then we got scarred. Some foolish person suggested “Where the Red Fern Grows”. She had never read it, but it’s supposed to be a kids book, so she was all for it. By the end chapters, it was so pathetically sad and heartbreaking that she couldn’t read it out loud, she’d start crying and it got passed around the room for people to try to read it. It was funny when some of the “macho” boys would give it a go, then start getting all emotional and have to pass the book off to someone else. We became this Oneness though of camaraderie  in all our determination to *finish* the damned book. I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven that author for writing such a godawful sorry sad tale that broke down our whole class, teacher included. Ugh. Quiet, calm post-recess time became `Ok, who’s feeling emotionally strong today and would like to give it a go?’ The teacher offered several times to just end the book but by that time we’d all got determined to hear the ending.

She was also late one morning with the funniest story. I still remember it, because the way she told it was so funny. Apparently on her way home the evening before, stuck in hard core traffic, her car’s horn suddenly became jammed and was on continuously. She was a very easily embarrassed woman, so the thought of this happening to her was funny in itself…then she described herself trying profusely to motion to the other drivers that it’s a mistake, it’s stuck and they just thought she was being more impatient and she said “on the other hand, though, people kept moving out of my way and I got home very quick!”. Hahaha. So she was late the next morning as she had to arrange a different ride.

Ah…how times change. Now they’d just shoot you for that. Not move out of your way… oO

Anyway, thus concludes middle school and the following year I’d be off to Isaac Jr High, which incidentally was just across the street from Lyle’s hubble (instead of the 1.5 mile walk to & from school alone I’d been doing all this time). And I was so happy and excited to get to see Mr. Sanchez again, in his new gig! How cool is it to get a favorite teacher as your new vice principle?? Cool cool.

Anyway, mayhaps I will continue this tale another time, maybe not. Who knows. There is still much teacher-thanking to do, for the rest of the years, and Mr. Sanchez plays yet another role. But this is long and I’m fresh home from working all night, so I’m very tired.

Be well.

Gypsy Gies.


One Response to “No one may read all of this, but here we go – lol”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Gypsy! You must have been up all night writing it! I read every word and enjoyed it. A happy Mothers’ Day to all these kind people who made a difference in your life!

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