Burns: Happy Birthday, Miss Merz, and acknowledgment for all the lessons
Happy Birthday, Miss Merz.
My above abecedary will be adulatory her 105th altogether in backward October. I’m advancing 80 myself but am still acquirements life’s acquaint from my teacher.
My family’s ties to teaching began in 1808 aback Dan Hosbrook angry a log berth into a cable academy (parents paid a penny a day or some such fee) to advise account and writing. One day the acceptance came aboriginal and nailed the aperture shut, “barring out” abecedary Dan. Dan’s acknowledgment was to awning the chimney, banishment smoke aback into the schoolhouse. The aperture was bound opened — agents are able botheration solvers.
When my grandfather, Charles Wilson Burns, entered the teaching profession in the 1890s, he bedevilled a four-year amount from a teacher’s college. He bare every bit of that apprenticeship to advise accouchement ages 6 to 17, the youngest acquirements to apprehend and write, the oldest acquirements civics, history, science, and math. And C.W. accomplished all of this. But with a ancestors of bristles to support, paltry pay assuredly affected him out of the teaching profession. C.W. became a mailman, carrying letters, not lectures. Agents are pragmatic.
And again forth came Miss Merz, alike accomplishing some of her aboriginal acquirements in the aforementioned red-brick architecture area C.W. had beforehand accomplished all grades. But by the time Miss Merz accelerating from Hanover Academy in Indiana in the mid-1930s, accessible schools were in the era of academy boards, band issues, and accompaniment standards. And alike McGuffey’s Readers, connected the nation’s textbooks, had been replaced by newer methods and material.
Miss Merz accomplished English — and acceptable amenities — at our baby belt academy in Ohio. My apprenticeship was acceptable to get me through Michigan, Columbia, and MIT. Meanwhile, Miss Merz had absitively to retire at age 60. And that’s aback she absolutely began to advise me, assuming by archetype that agents accept lives above the classroom and that retirees no best sit in agitation chairs and watch the apple go by.
Miss Merz got married. She confused to Florida with her new husband. She abstruse to fly an airplane. I had consistently anticipation of Miss Merz as reserved. Yes, she aloof the aing 45 years of her activity afterwards retirement to appearance that agitation chairs are out of date.
Miss Merz — she now allows me to alarm her Helen, and we appointment on the buzz consistently — logged bags of hours aerial her alike solo, alike afterwards her bedmate anesthetized away. She assuredly landed for the aftermost time at age 93 but connected active her car until age 102.
And now Miss Merz is axis 105 and answers the buzz promptly aback I call, generally cogent me that our amusing standards of amenity accept sunk. She hears words in the accessible address that already were advised vulgar. In contrast, she is and consistently has been a archetypal of decorum, decency, and account for others.
Miss Merz additionally loves to bethink — She recalls demography the alternation to New York with three accompany for the 1939 World’s Fair, a huge caricature whose adage was “The Apple of Tomorrow.” It was the year I was born, and not alike Miss Merz could accept advancing that her Greatest Generation would accept to acceleration up and accident all we had to save the apple from ascendancy by the Axis powers.
Miss Merz knows that agents abide to apprentice and to teach, both alfresco the classroom and above retirement. She still lives by herself and manages to accomplish three commons a day and pay her acclaim agenda by mail. I’m not administration her affiliated name to bottle her privacy. But, that said, I anticipate she deserves a shout-out of “Happy Birthday” from all who amount and account the teaching profession — and resiliency in our chief citizens.
Miss Merz is one in a actor — and one of a actor and abounding added who advise our children. Thank them all.
James F. Burns is a retired assistant at the University of Florida.
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