My aunt, Lola Alvord, always liked school. In eight years of grammar school and four years of high school, she never missed a single day, including the morning she broke both her arms on the playground. She was about nine years old, and instead of going home, she just walked to the doctor, had her arms set, and returned to school. She figured out a way to write with just her fingertips and she was all set.
It was a surprise to no one when after graduation she decided to become a teacher. In 1935, she got a two year teaching certificate from a local community college and started teaching in a one room schoolhouse in the same county in southern Minnesota where she had attended school.
She taught for about five years until she married – married women were not allowed to teach school in the 1930s. When the children were older, she started looking for a job as a teacher. It wasn’t easy with only a two year degree, but she found a principal who really liked her and gave her a chance. It was a good match and she was a good teacher. She taught there until her retirement in the late 1980s.
Eventually, the two year degree was not enough, and she went back to school nights to earns credits for a Minnesota teaching certificate. Later, she went back to school again to earn even more credits to become both a reading and math specialist. She was an artist and her classrooms were always filled with the most amazing artwork.
Lola’s favorite school day was May Day. She’d always had a maypole growing up, and when she had her own classroom, of course there was a maypole on May Day. Hers was usually a red and white striped pole with multicolored ribbons. According to tradition, children grab the ribbons and dance around the pole. The ribbons wrap around the pole in a design that creeps down the pole. Then the dancers reverse direction to unwind the design. The maypole symbolized longer days and the coming of summer. Later, the children made may baskets to leave on the door steps of shut-in neighbors and nursing homes.
At Lola’s retirement party, she was crowned Queen of the Maypole, with a crown of flowers and scepter. Although her party was not on May Day, it was fitting that they had it in May, and many of her former students came back to celebrate with her. When they shared their memories, May Day and the maypole was one of their favorites.
Written in response to 52 Ancestors weekly prompt: Back to School.