Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ponytails, Teachers and Tomboys

Me c.1955
It’s coming on birthdays – mine to be exact! Yes, as I celebrate yet another year of life I am looking back at a few people who were instrumental in helping to mold me into the person I am today. One of those was Miss Poppert, a second grade teacher. While she wasn’t my second grade teacher, for some reason I took a fancy to her and she to me during that year. I remember that she was a very stylish gal. Tall, very pretty, fabulous clothes and big jewelry; and she seemed to “get me” in some way that few other adults understood.

Interesting how at the age of seven or so, I had already learned to admire quality fashion and jewelry even though I considered myself to be much of a tomboy. Yes, it was Miss Poppert who did this silhouette of me all those years ago – my ponytail and fringe confirm my tomboy status. I remember actually sitting there while she traced my outline just as she did for all her class kids; but why she did it of me…not quite sure. It may have had something to do with the fact that my mom worked in the teachers’ school cafeteria and maybe she had asked her to do it as a favor – guess I will never know but I am glad it was done. It is fun to have a reminder of that snippet in time.

What puzzles me most is the fact that I found it after all these years. You see I thought it had been tossed with many of my other early mementos way back when. But It was nestled, unframed, in a bunch of my mother’s belongings and I didn’t know that until I was packing up her home after her passing last year. Very few things from my childhood remain intact, so when I do uncover something like this, I tend to cherish it. It’s fun how the portrait captures a moment in time and in a flash I am transported to that place. I remember talking with Miss Poppert out on the playground when the other kids really didn’t include me in their games and I also remember stopping into her classroom at the close of school just to talk for a bit before my walk home. I’ll admit, it’s somewhat strange behavior for a kid of seven…but it is who I was and it was normal for me!

So to the Miss Popperts of the world – thanks for all you do – even the tiniest of things do have a lifelong effect on the kids you encounter.