Although this tribute is from just one person, about just one teacher in just one school; I’m sure probably every student, perhaps in every school, not just Milford Twp, could write a similar affirmation of the influence of one of their teachers.
Once upon a time, in a land and time that seems far away now, I was a young scholar in the sixth grade at Milford Twp School near Nevada, Iowa. We had started the sixth year with a teacher whom I had in fifth grade, Mrs Claude Smith. About six weeks into the school year her husband suddenly died and she felt unable to continue so she retired. A young bride, a very attractive blonde teacher from Mississippi, whose husband was a student at Iowa State, was hired. Enter Mrs Everett.
In the fifth and start of the sixth grade, which were in the same room, I was gradually getting into more and more trouble on the playground, not so much in the classroom. On the playground, it started off as arguments and gentle fighting but soon the friendliness and gentleness left and it was just a few lines of arguing and challenges over most anything- and then battle royal with rasslin’ and sluggin’. Playground diplomacy failed. We played a game with a football-like ball that would probably, more accurately, resemble a game of unrefereed rugby, so there were many occasions when there were disputes as to the degree of interference, roughness, and fumbles, etc. I don’t recall any black eyes or anything more serious than a mild bloody nose. By the time Mrs Everett arrived I had already been to the Supt Office a couple times for fighting on the playground. I don’t recall any discipline stronger than a stern lecture and a promise of more drastic, but unmentioned, consequences in the near future. In a way, these confrontations with the teachers, those with the authority, were a sign of a “red badge of courage”. One particular day, after a tussle with a fellow classmate on the playground during a rugby game, the teacher with playground duty sent me to my classroom, “Young man, march yourself in to your room for the remainder of recess”. She escorted me to and through the school house door and then stood at the bottom of the stairs to be sure I went into the 5th and 6th grade room which was at the top and to the right of a half flight set of steps. I entered the empty room and shut the door after myself; the only person there was Mrs Everett. She was setting at her desk, grading papers. Her desk was in the northeast corner of the room and overlooked the room to the southwest with the students’ desks facing the south and the blackboard.
She asked the purpose of my returning to the room early. I told her the playground supervisor had told me to return to my room because I had been fighting on the playground. I don’t recall with whom the altercation had been and I don’t think the other person was kicked off the playground. Anyhow, she remained seated at her desk and told me to come close to the corner of her desk that was closest to her right elbow. I did so with a little trepidation because she was so new at our school that no one knew how she dealt with conduct problems. She gave me a lecture in a gentle, soft-voiced manner about how fighting with others most often lead to more fighting with additional ill-will, hostility, etc. I doubt if