Lynn's Comments: I don't remember my own Christmas pageants, but my kids remember theirs. Anything that required a script and stage was taken seriously in Lynn Lake, where entertainment was all home made. Costume sessions and rehearsals took place in private homes and the community centre would be packed as friends and family vied for the best seats in the house. Aaron played the part of a shepherd one year, dressed in his bathrobe and striped pajamas, and a reindeer the next. Being in front of an audience never fazed him and even without lines, he played his roles to the hilt. The elementary school teachers were full of ideas and had the courage to pull them off. Music was provided by Mr. Bergan's music group and the community choir. It's amazing to me now, to think about how the town would come together as one for these things, and the talent within our own crowd was amazing.
Lynn's Comments: Again, the material that appeared in the strip was mostly made up. It was fun to imagine what it would be like to have a large, busy class of kids, all involved in putting on a play and one harried teacher in charge of everything. I could play the role of the teacher and also the kids and I tried to put myself into every possible scenario. Aaron's teachers were, again, part of our circle of friends. If I needed the inside scoop on anything, all I had to do was ask! If I wanted to know anything about pharmacy, I'd ask Bob at the drugstore. If I wanted to know anything about the workings of the corner store, "Fergy" Ferguson would be glad to oblige. I talked to the RCMP and to the pilots and to anyone whose career might possibly appear in the strip. Living in a small town meant ready access to wonderful resources, long before the internet made research so easy.
Lynn's Comments: I had some wonderful, insightful and compassionate teachers. The dialogue you see here is almost word for word from a conversation I had with Mr. Stibbs in grade four. He told me that yes, he did pick on me and yes, he did single me out in the class - and that he did so because he knew I could do better. He explained that it took a lot of his time and energy to put me in my place and he did so because I was worth it. I think he was the first to put a harness on the unruly kid that I was and he did so by letting me know - in a strict but very fair way, that he had respect for my intelligence and therefore so should I.
Lynn's Comments: Taking a gift to a favorite teacher was, for me, a significant gesture. I wasn't one to give a gift in order to be liked as much as it was a token of respect and affection. I've said before that I was not an easy kid to control and my teachers had to work hard to keep me in line. I think I remember every one of my elementary school teachers, as they played such a big role in my life. My second grade teacher Miss Campbell and I started out on the wrong foot. Envious of my brother's ability to "write his name in the snow", I convinced one of the boys in my class to pee in the rubber boots in the cloakroom, which he did. It's amazing what kids will do when told to - even by another kid! Anyway, I was held responsible along with the culprit and until the last day of the school year, Miss Campbell and I were at serious odds. Interesting, then, that I would be sad to the point of tears when we all had to say goodbye. I took her a card and a rose tea cup and saucer. It was an extra one of my Mom's and a pattern I particularly liked. I wondered if she'd sip her tea from it and think of me...and forgive me for having been such a thorn in her side!
Lynn's Comments: Being a kid who loved pencils, I also loved the pencil sharpener. I loved the feel of the handle and the way those spiral cutting blades ground into the wood. I loved the smell and the sound and the shavings that spiraled out of the hole when the cup was full and overflowing. A good metal pencil sharpener was fixed tight to the wall and didn't give when the pressure was on. We were a team. I could sharpen a whole box of Rembrandt coloured pencils, then take on a twelve pack of HB's! I leaned into pencil sharpening with strength and determination, every sharpened point a prize. It was a great day when my mother bought and installed a pencil sharpener in my room, next to the desk where I did all my drawing. It meant that I would always be working with a sharp instrument. It meant that she took my drawing seriously and marked a "turning point" (if I may say) in a budding career.
Lynn's Comments: This is a small glimpse into a day in my life. My grade three teacher kept me after school on the last day to tell me that after all the conflict we had endured together during the year, she thought I was basically a good kid. This was the attitude that most of my teachers had....and when Aaron's teachers gave him "the talk" I knew exactly where they were coming from.
Lynn's Comments: I have had a number of readers contact me to say they too had been students of Mrs. Hardacre. Isn't it amazing how well we remember these people! Then again, our teachers were as influential to many of as our parents were.