Mondor. That sort of sounds like Mordor, doesn’t it? Mrs. Mondor wasn’t quite as grim as Sauron or as foreboding as the black volcanic plain east of Gondor. But there were times when it seemed that way. Mrs. Mondor was my grade 4 teacher.
We moved again. From St Johns to College Avenue. I got to stay at Machray School. Got to keep many of my same friends. Especially Harvey Z. who had a bad heart. He told me about it one day when we were riding the bus together. He said he would die soon. And I made new friends, that lived on the same block on College Avenue. Jimmy Brown, who lived at the end of the block, who was great fun and a good buddy and whom I didn’t realize until a few years later, was negro. Between Jimmy’s house and mine was Gail Hines. I claimed her to be my first girl friend (grade 4), although I had no idea what that meant, of course.
We got new furniture when we moved. The furniture I remember best were the two orange and black daybed couches. Brand new, though a bit hard. Somebody fell asleep on one, with a cigarette and burned a deep fist size hole in it. Right in the middle. There was no way to hide it or cover it up and the new became not new soon after coming to our house. It was another rented two-storey duplex and again we lived upstairs.
One morning I came out to find a dead cat in our front yard. It didn’t look exactly like this, but you get the idea. There were flies and bloating involved, and that is all I’ll say.
You know how you have memories implanted deep in your brain, from when you were a kid. I have those too. Like eating salami on fresh white French bread, washed down with Kik Cola. I still search for that taste today.
On College Avenue I learned to love roast beef sandwiches with raw onions and learned to hate green olives (which I love now) and sausages, because I was told that the sausage meat was stuffed into pig intestine and that is how they made their shape. Funny how College Avenue has food memories. One time we were treated to the ‘All You Can Eat for 99 cents’ at the Midtown Buffet.
It was a bit longer walk to Machray School from our place on College. You had to be careful crossing Salter Street because it had busy traffic. A four-block walk and then I got to spend the day with Mrs. Mondor. She didn’t seem to like me much and sent me from the classroom, from time to time, just because I liked to have fun instead of doing the boring school work.
We got pens in grade 4. It was time to start learning to write in ink instead of pencil. You had to be really careful and even though there were special ink erasers, if you had to use them, the marks left on your page were a dead give away that you had screwed up. Written work was to be done in cursive writing. But my writing was nearly illegible so I used to carefully print my work and nervously chew the end of the school supplied pen. They were extra long, quill like implements, that came in a variety of colors. I chewed my way through three or four, to the displeasure of Mrs. Mondor. She seemed to always be on me for something, wagging her finger, using sharp tones.
So even though my school marks were generally good, I rebelled at her criticism of my refusal to conform to the cursive requirement. I continued to print but sped up my hand. Consequently, there was less time available for ensuring correct spelling. Mrs. Mondor gave me a failing grade in spelling. The first and only time I had a failing grade in school. But the fail was just my defiance to conform to her demands. (Just to prove it, in grade 5 I earned honors in spelling).
All year I thought Mrs. Mondor was my enemy. But on the last day of grade 4, after school, I was playing in the front yard and Mrs. Mondor walked by, on her way home. She greeted me with a pleasant smile and said she wouldn’t be back to Machray School next year because she was going to have a baby. She said she hoped it would be just like me.
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