Halls of History—Why me?

Halls of History

I attended Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah, for grades one through four, and half of grade five. There wasn’t a lake within fifty miles….

Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah

Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah

I went by the school on July 25, 2018. As I was looking through the front door, the principal came out of his office, saw me looking in, and opened the door to ask what he could do for me. I told him that I had attended Lake View from 1961 to 1965, and that I was in town exploring my childhood. Although the school was closed for the summer, he invited me in.

Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah

Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah

I didn’t remember anything about the interior of the school, probably because I spent more time skipping school than attending school….

I used to know the names of all my teachers, grades 1-12, and I believe I have a list of all of them, but I can’t find it right now. I do remember my Lake View Elementary teachers:

Mrs. Larson, first grade—Mrs. Larson lived next door to us. She had a beautiful garden full of Nasturtiums, so beautiful that I destroyed it one afternoon when I skipped school. She knew exactly who had done it. To this day, I love Nasturtiums but in 42 years of gardening, I have never had any Nasturtiums in my own gardens.

Miss Richard, second grade—I was in her very first class. After she put up with me, she either quit teaching or moved to a different school.

Miss Fonnesbeck, third grade—See below, Mrs. Gilmore, fifth grade

Mr. Boyd, fourth grade—The most popular teacher in school.

Mrs. Gilmore, fifth grade—When the State of Utah took me away from my family, Mrs. Gilmore took a special interest in me, even coming down to the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, 19 miles, to visit me.

I kept in contact with Mrs. Gilmore through 1995, visiting her a couple of times in Case Grande, Arizona, where she had moved after retiring from teaching to be with her son. I also came out to her in late 1993, at which time she told me that Miss Fonnesbeck had been fired because she was a lesbian.

Mrs. Gilmore’s son wrote me when she died to tell me how much she loved me. I guess we each made an impression on the other, although I’m not sure why she would take such an interest in a juvenile delinquent child of ten who had no relation to her. Was it just her being a good teacher? A good person? Did I remind her of someone in her past? Were there others like me in her years of teaching?

Since that day when I read the letter from her son, I have always wondered why. Why me?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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9 thoughts on “Halls of History—Why me?

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I have so many teachers that I remember with fondness. Obviously Mrs. Gilmore was very important in my life, but very close behind her was my sixth grade home room & English teacher, Miss Morgan. She had taught my dad and his three brothers, so she had been teaching for 40 years or so. She retired after she had me. She diagrammed the Pledge of Allegiance on the blackboard, showing us that we were pledging allegiance to an inanimate object. I have never said the Pledge of Allegiance since that day, which has upset more than a few people in my life.

      Then, Mrs. Edith Head (but not THAT Edith Head; google her), my English teacher in twelfth grade. She is the one responsible for me learning English so well that I aced the English portion of my SAT and was able to place out of Freshman English at Texas A&M University, freeing up six hours of coursework for, uh, more important things….

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I have two 20-year-old friends, one a junior at Cal Berkeley with a 3.9 GPA in computer science, and one a budding attorney at Stanford. Both are home for the holidays now. The first thing they did was go visit some of their high school teachers. They know those teachers were instrumental in helping them get to where they are today.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      As a senior in high school, I had my heart set on being a history teacher. After some research, though, I discovered that history teacher salaries in Texas would not allow me to escape the lower class poverty that I was in. At that time, I didn’t know that I had a pretty good inheritance coming from my dad’s death. If I had known that, I could have been a history teacher.

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  1. Earthpages.org

    That is awesome. I live nearby my elementary school but haven’t thought to actually enter and check it out. Should be a mindbender! They tore down my high school and relocated it in a condo…

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      The elementary school in Brigham City is the only school I attended that still is being used as a school. The elementary school, junior high, and high school in Kingsville, Texas, all are abandoned. Still standing, but not being used.

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      1. Earthpages.org

        We had a couple of white elephants when I was growing up but with increased density, so-called development etc, not a square inch is being wasted. Sad because a once laid back and modest city is now a traffic… Well, not nightmare but mostly dysfunctional.

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