Mrs. Bowers was my third grade teacher. Like the first and second grade I do not have a lot of specific memories of this class. I remember the classroom, layout and other visual things like the other grades, but I don’t have many specific highlights from the class. Mrs. Bowers was a nice lady from what I remember. She was stern and not so flexible or humorous from my memory. However, I could be totally wrong. It was nearly 40 years ago. She is probably dead by now, which is a sobering thought.
I do remember memorizing a portion of the Gettysburg address while sitting in class the day it was assigned. I was surprised at how quickly I memorized it. I think I memorized it quicker than anyone else and recited it to Mrs. Bowers before I went out to the playground. We had recess and somehow I let her know that I had done it and I recited it to her. The details are very sketchy now, but it was the only highlight that I remember. It was a good day. I felt like I had accomplished something and it was acknowledged. It felt good and as you read these journal entries you will notice that there is a running theme: I was a depressed, angry, frustrated kid, who was beaten down physically and verbally and occasionally some authority figure would come along and do something nice to or for me and it would become a lifetime memory. On the contrary there would also be somebody to come along to do something nasty to me, which would further beat me down and that would be a lifelong memory as well. In the former case it would spur me on and also create a desire for more applause or acceptance, which is a sin pattern today. In the latter case it would further convince me that I was nothing and sometimes I would meet their lowly expectations by becoming what they expected or I would be spurred on to change my life. I’m not sure what would cause me to go one way or the other with my behavior. I suspect it was more of a frustration point that provoked the “I don’t give a damn” attitude. I also suspect it was frustration that provoked the “I’m going to get better” attitude.
The only other memory of the third grade was the playground. We had a complete playground area. It had swings, monkey bars, tether ball area, tennis courts with basketball court as well and much more. It was a time of triumph and total embarrassment. It was a time to dread and a time to look forward to. I think I was competing with Mike Yow in the tether ball area while in the third grade and it was a fierce competition in which I held my own. He probably beat me, but I can’t remember. It was somewhat of a magic moment from what I remember, but not one that was overly stellar. It is a distant memory of one of those rare times when I stood my ground and nobody on the planet would remember, but it felt good to me. It is very sad to me at some of the thoughts that go through our heads as little kids and how we have no relationship with our parents and no way to work out these “tense” moments and the ease in which we can misinterpret what is really going on and it make a lasting imprint on our souls.