Reconnecting with old friend, teacher

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, October 28, 2012

     Do you ever go back in time? I get taken there every so often by a certain smell, a song on the radio or just plain reminiscing.

     Memories are great things most of the time. They keep us in touch with who we are, the things our parents taught us and sometimes remind us of actions we don’t want to repeat. They also keep us in touch with people we met long ago and with people who are no longer with us.

     One such place that gives me a strong feeling of déjà vu every time I walk through its doors is Mamie Martin Elementary School. I think it’s the smell. The school still smells the same as it did 40-something years ago when I attended first grade there.

     I can still remember where my classroom was located and my first-grade teacher, Glenda Hart.

     I recall art classes with Helyn East with her big rolling cart that was filled with squeezable bottles full of different colored finger paints and slick white paper.

     I especially enjoyed recess and the playground with its tall swings and merry-go-round. When the bell would ring to announce recess, it was always a race to see who would be the first ones to the swings. There were only a few and to get there first meant you could swing as high as the trees for most of the break, uninterrupted.

     As a first-grader, I was painfully shy. I was so anxious that first day of school. My mom took me to the school in my new dress with my new red and black plaid book bag. We sat in the auditorium and waited as teachers called out names for their room assignments.

     I was nearly in tears the entire morning, especially when my mom left me in Mrs. Hart’s room to return home.

     All of those memories came flooding back a couple of weeks ago when I had the opportunity to visit with my first-grade teacher Mrs. Hart.

     Her daughter, Angie Hart Horton, invited me to lunch at her parents’ home in the Macedonia community.

     I had met Angie years ago when I was in first grade. Angie would come to her mother’s classroom after school on many days and sit with us lowly first-graders. I remember thinking how smart she was. She was a grade or so ahead of me in school and, well, she knew how to read and write already.

     Angie and I connected again a couple of years ago when she contacted me about putting her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in the newspaper. Angie and her husband, Frances, are missionaries with Baptist Global Response. At the time they were living in Singapore and Angie was making plans from afar.

     I recognized Mrs. Hart’s name immediately, and struck up a conversation via email with Angie.

     It wasn’t long before Angie and I were making plans to meet during one of her trips home, but for two years, something (life) always got in the way.

     Not this time. A couple of Mondays ago, I had the privilege to eat lunch with my former teacher and newfound friend.

     I think I was as nervous with anticipation at going to see Mrs. Hart for lunch as I was that initial day of first grade, but Angie, her father Gerald and Mrs. Hart soon put me at ease with their Southern hospitality.

     We had a lovely lunch, cooked by Mrs. Hart. As we ate, we reminisced about school and talked about our families. The time went by so fast. I was there nearly two hours before I knew it. It was fun to reconnect.

     Mrs. Hart went on to retire as a teacher, having taught first grade her entire career. I can’t imagine how many tiny lives she helped mold and give a good foundation in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.

     She taught me all of those things, for which I’m very grateful. My early education set me up for eventually a successful career in newspaper publishing.

     She also passed on a love for reading, which began with the Dick and Jane books, and simple passages such as “See Jane run. See Spot run.”

     Thank you, Mrs. Hart, for the memories, both old and new.

     And how was your week?

     Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILY LEADER at 601-833-6961 ext. 134, by email at tbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602.