The sixth grade was to grammar schools what the twelfth grade was to the high schools. We were the “seniors” of Henry Johnson School. Each year, both sixth grades presented a play to the rest of the school. Miss Boring was in charge of the production and wrote all of the plays. She was ably assisted by Miss Gordon Grubbs, the other sixth grade teacher. This production was a big deal for Miss Boring, as she put a great deal of effort into it.
Plaques on Each Side of the Front Door Entrance to the Old School
For reasons I cannot explain, Miss Boring chose me for one of the lead parts in the play. I was certainly no actor plus I was worried about stage fright. I even got nervous during practice. I was, of all things, a traveling medicine salesman dispensing my wares from a little bag that I carried with me.
In addition, I had a crude “magic” act that I performed on stage. Miss Boring insisted I do it, but I preferred to do my recitation of the song, “Life Get's Teejus, Don't it?,” but that was not to happen. Perhaps she objected to song's spelling and grammar.
In addition, several class members danced the Virginia Reel, from Wayne King's hit song, “Josephine.” Before I was assigned a lead role, I practiced dancing with the group. Later, to my delight, Miss Boring pulled me from the dance routine, but, to my dismay, assigned me a part in the play. At the end of the frolic, we all sang “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” which was very popular then.
We had practice rehearsals for weeks, yet within a week of the performance did not have our lines memorized to Miss Boring's satisfaction. One afternoon, she got rather direct with us, taking out her wrath on us during our “duty time” while I was erasing and washing the blackboard.
Despite Miss Boring's worries, the play went off without a hitch, except for one brief moment when I forgot a line during my traveling salesman routine, and someone behind me whispered it to me. I don't think anybody noticed.
Let me turn the clock ahead about 12 years. I became acquainted with a lady who was kin to my former teacher. I related to her that she was one of my outstanding teachers from the early 1950s. When she offered to take me to her house for a visit, without hesitation, I accepted her generosity. She called and received permission for us to come to her residence at 112 W. 11th Street.
When Miss Boring came to the door, I instantly recognized her. Although she had aged somewhat and moved much slower, she seemed surprised and pleased to see us. I was introduced to her as one of her former students from the 1954-55 class. As expected, she did not appear to remember me.
I figured if I mentioned some of the happenings that occurred in the sixth grade, she might recall me. When I brought up the subject of the school plays that she wrote and directed each spring, she immediately lit up, especially when I told her one of them was centered around Davy Crockett.
Miss Boring noted that she had written a school finale play each year that she taught at Henry Johnson School and had kept copies of each one in her home hall closet but had lost one; she lost the play our class was in. I wanted so much to see it.
I described the production to her, including my traveling salesman routine, the Virginia Reel, my magic show and the Davy Crockett theme. She still did not remember the play, nor did she remember me.
I called out the names of several of my classmates to her. The only two she remembered were a couple of troublemakers, Harold and Johnny (last names withheld to protect the guilty), the latter having his own seat in the southwest corner of room near a window.
Although this great lady did not remember me, I certainly knew her and I would not have missed our visit for the world. After a pleasurable but somewhat abbreviated stay, we departed. This was the last time I would see her, but she is permanently etched in my memory. This great teacher passed away about a year later.
If any of my readers were in Miss Boring's class and would like to comment about her, I welcome hearing from you.