Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mrs. Hansen

Got thinking today about a wonderful teacher, not sure if it was junior high or senior high and maybe both, but she was a gem. Her name was Anne Hansen and she taught English. Prior to taking one of her classes, I had heard the rumors, the unspoken rumors, that she was MEAN and that she probably had one of those ball and chain devices with sharp pokey things on them (Bill Cosby described them in one of his tapes) hidden somewhere in her desk, though no one had actually seen it. Innuendo was effective enough. She was a sturdy woman who almost always had her arms crossed and wandered amongst the nervous students rather than sitting during class. No one I knew ever heard her laugh, but once you got to know her better, her little upturned smile was as good as anyone's laugh. She was a master of subtlety and as good as E.F.Hutton's motto: When Mrs. Hansen spoke, everybody listened.

One of her favorite stories to demonstrate how sometimes we just use the same old phrases without ever thinking about them was the one about the two missionaries who went to perform a service at the prison. One missionary was asked to pick a hymn and his selection was "Bless This House...Oh Lord We Pray; Make it safe by night and day. Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out. Bless the roof and chimneys tall. Let Thy peace lie over all. Bless this door that it may prove ever open to joy and love. Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God's Heavenly light. Bless this hearth ablazing there with smoke ascending like a prayer! Bless the people here within; keep them pure and free from sin. Bless us all that we may be, fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . . Bless us all that one day we may dwell, O Lord with Thee" The other missionary was assigned to give the closing prayer...he prayed "and please bless those who aren't here today to be here next time."

To demonstrate the importance of punctuation marks, this time the semi-colon, Mrs. Hansen told of a man in prison seeking a pardon. The governor decided to grant the pardon and stay the execution by having the following message sent "NO; pardon." Problem was the person sending the message left out the semi-colon so the message said "NO pardon". Pretty good point for the teacher, huh? My favorite lesson she taught was about the importance of one little word. She wrote the following on the blackboard in her beautiful cursive handwriting: I HIT HIM IN THE EYE. Then she had us use the word "only" before each word. Therefore, we got: Only I hit him in the eye; I only hit him in the eye. I hit only him in the eye; I hit him only in the eye; I hit him in only the eye; I hit him in the only eye (OUCH); I hit him in the eye only. Kind of makes ya think, doesn't it?

Mrs. Anne Hansen, one of the good ones. Thank you, Maam!

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