*IF* my mind works correctly…and that can definitely be iffy…I’m going share a few Underwood Elementary memories. Since I am relying on faulty recall, forgive me if I have names or grades wrong, and feel free to correct or add to my story. Proceed at your own risk through my rambling words and jumbled thoughts in print of the years 1970 – 1976.
When I first started at Underwood, drink machines had 6 oz Cokes for 5 cents and 10 oz Cokes for 10 cents. Maybe the 10 oz drinks were only 8 cents that first year. The school secretary, Mrs. Quillen, ran a little candy store out of the school office, where penny candy was actually candy for a penny. As I was picking out my stash one day, I once rudely told third-grade teacher, Mrs. Poole, to “Move!” She promptly gave me a (much needed) lecture on courtesy. I believe it was Mr. Myhan who handled the popsicles…it seems like there was a popsicle of every flavor.
Around the third grade, Ms. Sewell became our first art teacher, and we had a music teacher that year, as well. Mrs. Beck was our PE Teacher in fifth grade. She was a maniac with her paddle...after seeing her use it one time, I made sure I didn't do anything to meet it cheek-to...board. But I believe Ms. Lewis taught PE before Mrs. Beck...possibly fourth grade, she was only there one year. Mrs. Broadfoot, (Laura’s mother) was my favorite substitute teacher. There was another substitute I liked, too. I think it was another classmate's mother…Denise Hill’s maybe?
My introduction to school wasn’t a pleasant one. My teacher, Mrs. Moore, wasn’t always nice to me. Was it possibly because I was precocious and loud and got on her nerves? Whatever the reason, I suppose it’s my own unforgiveness that I need to face. I remember Sharon Risner was on crutches for a while, and Laura Broadfoot had a bicycle wreck that resulted in a hospital stay…and when she came back to school, she had a badly bruised face. I remember Mrs. Moore gave each child a chance to be “Teacher’s Pet” for a day, and we were often given orange juice. However, I think that was a school thing, not a Mrs. Moore thing.
Wasn’t Mr. Terry a scary man to reckon with? I’d never heard of a first name being a last name…and I dared to say “Hey, Terry!” as I passed him in the hall. (In my defense, I really wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.) He quickly set me straight, and I didn’t do that again! I also remember they gave immunization shots at school in those days. I hated that, and everyone within earshot knew I hated it, too.
Second grade was a much better experience. Mrs. Hall genuinely liked children. There was a new girl named Beverly Holden in our class for a while. She didn’t stay long…but when I was a senior, I got a job at Shoney’s, and Beverly was working there. By then, she was called Chita, but I knew I remembered her from somewhere. When I finally heard her first name was Beverly, I was able to put one and one together and came up second grade. There was also a girl named Mary Christmas in our class.
Once, when Mrs. Hall was out of the room, for some unknown reason, I was running around and knocked the record player off the counter…thankfully it still worked. I was scared to death of the trouble I was going to be in when she came back in….but I wasn’t. I stole 5 cents from Selena Middlebrooks that year…oh, the times I have thought about that with shame. I have never again stolen from another individual.
One of the best things about that year, though I didn’t know it then, was that every morning, Mrs. Hall had us say the Pledge of Allegiance and the 100th Psalm. I have never forgotten that Psalm, and I rarely recite it without thinking of Mrs. Hall.
Third grade gave me Mrs. Poole. I thought she was so pretty! She didn’t have her classroom set up in the traditional rows of desks….there were short rows of about 5 or six desks, strategically placed about the room, and I sat beside Laura Broadfoot and behind Jay Cruise for a while. I also have a memory of sitting very near the teacher's desk…hmmm. Wonder what I did to get that special place in the room? This was the year I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books because Mrs. Poole read us The Little House on the Prairie in the afternoons. I read all of LIW’s stories, and I loved the TV show. (I visited her home in Missouri a few years ago. Laura wasn’t there…) Years later, when my daughter was at Underwood, Mrs. Poole, who became Mrs. Griffith, was the principal.
My fourth-grade teacher was Mrs. Witt…possibly my most favorite teacher of all my years in school (I had a few favorites). I think this was the year that Kathy Thompson broke her toes. I remember she didn’t let that stop her from playing PE…kickball and softball. She fell down once, and I could tell it hurt her…but she didn’t cry. I was really impressed.
This is a memory I am really not sure of, and I may have it all wrong, but at the risk of my embarrassment: In fourth or fifth grade, Lori Olive hurt her arm during PE. The PE teacher, who I believe was Ms. Lewis, told her to “sling it” and she didn’t mean put it in a sling! Turns out, it was broken pretty badly...
Pam McInnish and I sang “The Church in the Wildwood” to the whole class. I say “we” but I didn’t sing very much at all. I had told Pam that I would help her, but I must have developed some sort of stage fright when faced with the whole class looking at me. Tammy Irons and Cindy Townsley, I believe, put together a magic show for us. It was actually pretty good, and I still remember two of the tricks they did. I asked Tammy how they did it, fully expecting her not to tell me, but she did.
Fifth-grade…we were the big kids and started changing classes! I liked both Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. McGuire… That was the girls and boys really started noticing each other and pairing off…though it had started in third and fourth grades.
Sixth-grade teachers were Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Alexander, and I like them both as well. Mrs. Pierce was my homeroom teacher, and she used the phrase “Woe be unto you…” when she was threatening us for whatever reason. I think we realized that's when she meant business. Early mornings would find many of us (Jeff Yerby, Julia Richards, Mark Davis, and others) playing softball before the bell rang. There are classmates I would really like to see again from Underwood, like Julia "Renee" Richards, and and then there are those who I have run into, like Melanie Cox, who stopped me in WalMart one day because she recognized me, just to say hello...and we connected on Facebook...like I have with so many other former classmates. Facebook is very handy for that...so many I have "found" like Robin Lovelace (love her!), Tracey Tyler...I remember spending the night with her...she had huge dobermans!
Sadly, sixth grade was the year that I learned that children aren’t immortal with the freak accident that claimed the life of second grader Tyra Townsley. Her cousins were in my class, and I remember them crying. A 12 year really doesn’t know what to say in times like this.
My years at Underwood are very special memories. I met a girl there named Carol Belew. She left Underwood to go to Cloverdale after only a year or two, and it wasn’t until the 9th grade that I saw her again. She became my High School "BFF" and is still my very dear friend to this day. We’ve lost a few classmates along the years, including Mark Davis, Mark Hanback, Anita Looney, Tim Smith, Lisa Hill (who left after the 4th grade), Cindy Crews, and Sharon Risner. I still live near the school…though it looks a little different these days, one thing remains the same, memories are being built, lifelong friendships are being formed, and America’s bright future are learning and discovering life in those elementary classrooms.