Throughout my life, my elementary school years have rested gentle on my mind. I fondly remember my dedicated teachers, Miss Nettles, Miss Bourgeois, (Mrs. Luke Cheramie), Miss Bolden, Miss Waguespack and Miss Weldon.
I’m sure they were not any better than today’s teachers (O.K. Lisa?) but they were more scrutinized by the public and held to higher and more stringent personal standards than today.
Most of them lived in Mrs. Inez Rizan’s boarding house, next door to the school.
Like most boys my age I read comic books. I had the original Superman, Action Comics No.1 and the first Batman, Detective Comics No. 27 … but those went to the World War II paper drives. They sold for a dime and the two I mentioned are today worth $500,000.00 apiece. (Oh! Yi Yi!)
My reading habits improved when, in seventh grade, my teacher Miss Waguespack assigned me a book.
“It’s a little advanced for you, but give it a try,” she said.
I read it over the weekend, gave a report which got me an “A”, and my parents celebrated for a week.
The world opened for me and I have been a voracious reader ever since.
In this book about the French Revolution, I read the greatest opening and closing lines in literary fiction history … “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, and, “It’s a far far better thing I do than I have ever done, it is a far better place I go to that I have ever known.”
It was, of course, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. I didn’t give up my comic books cold turkey, but my reading tastes improved.
Now, back a few years to my first day in third grade. I was dazzled by it all because I had not yet mastered the English language. (My readers can tell that I still haven’t). The door opened and in walked a beautiful young lady who wrote on the blackboard “my name is Marion Weldon” and told us “you may call me Miss Weldon.”
The jaw of every male 9-year old third grader hit the floor. They were smitten, and so was I. Of course I shrugged it off, after all there was the language barrier. She couldn’t speak French and I could hardly speak English, and she was very old … at least 19, I guessed.
I started to like school because of her and she became and has always been my favorite teacher. I found out that she was from a prominent Thibodaux family, but this was still the Depression, and a teacher went where she was assigned.
She soon got to love Golden Meadow, was wooed and won by young Jack Egle, who later became the Mayor of Golden Meadow. Their son, Dick Egle, became the first elected President of Lafourche Parish. Miss Weldon must have been proud.
I didn’t see her much for the rest of her life, she was busy teaching, raising a family and becoming the first lady of Golden Meadow. Her son, Dick and his sisters entrusted me with her wedding day picture and told me “she was a warm and caring person.”
Many years later, I visited my mother at the Cut Off nursing home. It was her 89th birthday and I had written and recorded a song for her called “Helen,” which I sang as a nurse wheeled her around. It was, so far, a joyful day.
Then I noticed a lady sitting in a wheel chair, not moving and staring straight ahead.
“Who is that?” I asked a nurse.
“That’s Mrs. Jack Egle,” she answered.
It was my favorite teacher!
I later learned that she had Alzheimer, and her son, Dick told me that, “It had turned her personality around 180 degrees.”
I watched her awhile, and as I was leaving, my eyes were moist, and a tear flowed down. No, not for my mother … mom and I had a nice afternoon, she laughed, enjoyed my singing, (well … my mother, you know), and was in great spirits, but the tear was for my beautiful third grade teacher and through my eyes, that day, she still looked the same as when she walked into my classroom, many, many years ago.
Posted on Tue, September 23, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer