A Very Unusual Day


Penmanship Class

Swiftly slithering along the stone wall
my father built with his two hands, the
garter snake followed our journey
down the road to the school bus.
Past the swamp with skunk cabbage
and its distinct odor, past wild blueberries
hidden within its depths, my sisters and
I chatted along the mile of road.

Past Peter’s house, the boy who threw
the stone hitting me in the middle of
my forehead leaving an ugly lump.
Unprovoked and done because he could.
Past the pretty flowering apples trees
of the elderly lady who shouted from
behind curtained windows to stay off her yard.
At the end of Cedar Street was our bus stop.


Across from the Old Sturbridge Village.
Weather was hot this June day. My
second floor classroom with the wooden
floor creaked under our shoes. Inkwells awaited
our pens for penmanship class. Our teacher
stood in the middle of the double-wide slate
blackboard and wrote a new word: ambidextrous.
She demonstrated the word’s meaning for us.

She never walked left and right as she wrote.
Standing in the middle, she began writing in
cursive with chalk in her left hand. Then she
switched to her right hand, and wrote perfectly
shaped letters in white chalk. Next we tried to
write the same way but were unsuccessful. She
wrote: “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
Left and right hands the same. All letters of the alphabet.

Without questioning the meaning of the sentence, we
carefully wrote this in our penmanship journals.
Today visitors would come to see how
well we had learned to write in cursive handwriting.
Some of us wrote diligently, but the little boy behind
the girl with blonde braids was busy dipping her
braids into the inkwell with indelible black ink.
He got into BIG trouble for that. Our brick school

building was hot on the second floor so the
teacher opened the door in the back to the
fire escape to give us air in the classroom.
One visitor walked around and observed
our perfectly shaped letters matching the
models on the black chalkboard and commented
with uh-hums of approval as she
walked past our desks during our timed writing

session. The fox and the dog would
probably have pounced on the next visitor:
a pretty bird flew in the open fire escape door.
Confused, it flew in a helter-skelter
manner. Squeals erupted; ohs and ahs
followed as the bird flew past our heads. Total
and utter chaos ensued until finally,
one unlucky girl had a deposit made on her

beautiful cursive handwriting. Our teacher
brought a brown paper towel to clean up
the bird dropping. I wonder what grade the
unlucky student got for her smeared cursive writing?
Holding back her laughter, our teacher tried
to get us to remain in our desks. How could we
do that with our flying intruder? The other visitor
must have enjoyed this moment! Maybe we

could go out for recess now? Finally the bird exited to
tell others in its flock about the misadventure
it had in our classroom. Off the bus again, we
hurried home, paying scarce attention to the swamp
and poison ivy. No heed to garter  snakes along our route.
Excitement filled the kitchen as our metal lunch boxes banged
the countertop. Munching on freshly baked oatmeal cookies,
we told  our mother about the very unusual day at school.


This entry was posted in ambidextrous, cursive handwriting, penmanship class, Sturbridge and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A Very Unusual Day

  1. Emily says:

    I love the stories in your post I can visualize everything happening! How funny in the classroom with the bird and the little boy dipping the girls hair in the ink! Beautiful photos! You look stunning, I loved reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why thank you for your kind comment. The purpose in my writing is to relate true incidents in my life so that my readers can follow the journey with me. Life stories are so intriguing. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I am humbled that you find me stunning. In the day, perhaps. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂


  2. Tom says:

    That was a fun day! I like how you captured all the details and moments along the way in your poem. The bird made a deposit…but not at the bank 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Expect the unexpected in life. Never a dull moment in paradise. An ordinary school day was anything but. Thank you for noting my details and moments which, I hope, made you feel as if you were along with me. Birds make deposits everywhere including on cars and perhaps on the roofs of banks as well. Hahaha. Have a great week ahead filled with music and happiness. ^__^


  3. Bun Karyudo says:

    That was a memorable day! I don’t think we ever had a bird fly into our classroom. I’d have loved something like that to make the lesson more interesting. I’d have been willing to settle for a freshly baked oatmeal cookie after school, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Youth days seem to hava many more than 24 hours ! – amitiés – france 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • C’est drôle, et vous avez raison. Les adultes ne semblent jamais avoir assez d’heures dans la journée. J’ai aimé mes jours d’enfance grandissant dans le Massachusetts. Merci pour votre commentaire.


  5. Annika Perry says:

    What wonderful recollections, Mary Ann, your abundant joy shines through and your writing is so immediate I feel as I’m in the classroom with you. The poor girl with braids, naughty Peter throwing a stone at you and then the bird incident, it was as if I could picture the whole scene! Lovely post and enhanced by the photos giving it a real sense of atmosphere. 😀♥️ Oh, meant to say how impressed I am with your ambidextrous teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our teacher was stellar to watch and took pride in writing for us on the board to teach us the meaning of ambidextrous. I am glad my words helped convey the meaning and you took the walk with me to school and sat in class with our lift-top desks. Those were the good old days! You are so kind and generous with your comment. Thank you again. ^__^

      Liked by 1 person

  6. bernard25 says:

    Sourire ce matin chez moi

    Mais à tout prendre
    De loin une caresse, un regard de tendresse
    C’est un secret offert, à peine dévoilé
    Un rayon de soleil au travers des nuages
    Une ride au coin des yeux ce matin en est le souvenir
    Comme une fleur fanée désirant refleurir
    Un instant, un infini bonheur
    Une façon d’ouvrir si librement mon cœur
    Ce jour un éclair de lumière en ouvrant mes yeux
    Comme un bel arc-en-ciel, dans un coin de ciel bleu
    Je te souhaite de passer
    Une très belle et bonne journée..

    Gros Bisous


    Je t’offre un petit café

    Liked by 1 person

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