Thank You, Mrs. Morganthaler
When I was in third and fourth grade, I lucked out. Public school was not always kind to me.
I read a lot. I’ve always read a lot. There was a rule. The rule was that we were supposed to give book reports in front of the class.
This prospect terrified me profoundly. Mrs. Morganthaler noted that. She didn’t make me do it. She knew I read my ass off anyway. She broke a rule for me.
The other thing was math. During my high school years I had a pleasant experience drinking in algebra like water, but some things about math got me stuck. One was the multiplication tables. This wasn’t sold to me as pattern recognitions, it was sold as visual memorization, which has never been my long suite. But there it was, this seemingly incomprehensible, frustrating, depressingly endless obstacle.
Mrs. Morganthaler spent a great deal of extra time with me and got me through it. I can’t remember how, I just remember that gradually I managed hard stuff like 8 X 9 which is what, 72?
(I can see it as a pattern now. Ten times eight minus one times eight. I think ten is a really stupid base to use. Something that works out as multiples of twos would make more sense and be so much more symmetrical, instead of using the number of one’s fingers.)
But anyway, that woman saved my ass twice and I never once went back and thanked her, so every now and then I write about her on the Internet. Also, she showed up at the school Halloween fair once with her hair dyed green. And this was maybe around 1965. In Culver City, California, hardly a hotbed of alternative anything at the time.
This is courage. Women express courage in these small ways all the time. We should notice, we should remember. We should thank them.