A fond farewell to Miss George

Sepia Saturday 451: Tenth and last post in a series about my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George — one of those friends, acquaintances and neighbors (FANs) who can make such a difference in a person’s life.

On my way out of town after my high school reunion this fall, I paid a parting visit to Vestal Hills Memorial Park — placing flowers on the markers of my fourth grade teacher Miss Helen George, her parents and her brother. Which brings me back to where I began writing about her life.

Helen Gerorge’s marker in Vestal Hills Memorial Park, Vestal, N.Y. (2018) I placed flowers as a parting gift to one of my favorite teachers — my fourth grade teacher Miss George. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Forgotten memories

When I started this series on Miss George I had no idea it would continue for ten weeks!

Miss Helen George at 22: Senior photo from the 1939 yearbook of Cortland Teachers College (now SUNY Cortland). Scan by Molly Charboneau

But the more I researched her life, the more details I found — which is not surprising considering how engaged she was in Hooper School, where she taught, and in the history of its surrounding community, Endwell, N.Y.

As I wrote, forgotten memories poured out — and I found I enjoyed having Miss George around throughout this fall semester and into the holiday season.

So I am wistful as this series on Miss George draws to a close. She was such a key figure in my fourth grade life from 1959-60 — and her positive influence has stayed with me through the years.

A serendipitous connection

Yet I am also pleased that my research unearthed an unexpected, lasting connection to her.

As discussed in previous posts, Miss George was enthusiastic about history and preservation — much like the genealogy and family history community I have become part of in my adult life.

In 1960, when I had her for fourth grade, Miss George led a discussion at the Broome County Historical Society about Washingtonian Hall — a historic home on Endwell’s River Road.

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn90066578/1960-01-20/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=01%2F01%2F1725&city=&date2=12%2F31%2F2016&searchType=advanced&SearchType=prox5&sequence=0&lccn=sn90066578&index=15&words=George+Helen&proxdistance=5&county=&to_year=2016&rows=20&ortext=&from_year=1725&proxtext=Helen+George&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=range&page=1
Miss George holds a seminar on Endwell , N.Y., history at the Broome County Historical Society (1960). Source: nyshistoricnewspapers.org

In recent years, I have consulted the same society about my family’s history — and her history, too — even visiting their Binghamton, N.Y., repository this fall while in Endwell for my reunion.

When I discovered the Jan. 20, 1960, Endicott Daily Bulletin notice (at left) about Miss George’s seminar, I smiled at the connection.

How serendipitous that we each found our way to the Broome County Historical Society to pursue our passion! And how wonderful that I will be reminded of her whenever I research there in the future.

A fond farewell

Inspiring teachers like Miss George play such an important part in our lives — one we may not fully recognize until we are grown. Remembering and honoring them is the least we can do in appreciation of their invaluable role.

As I bid Miss George a fond farewell on Molly’s Canopy, I hope I’ve done justice to her life — and to the impact of her creativity, enthusiasm and love of history on generations of Endwell’s schoolchildren, including me.

In tribute to Miss George, here are the other posts in this series:

Up next: Molly’s Canopy is taking a brief New Year’s break for a couple of weeks. Happy New Year and please stop in mid-January 2019 when blogging resumes. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here. 

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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12 thoughts on “A fond farewell to Miss George”

  1. Hi Molly:

    Just loved this and it made me remember my own wonderful 4th grade teacher–Mrs. Crowley (not a nun)–in a catholic school–she lived up the road from us, and I remember walking by her home and she would be in the garden on her knees tending to her flowers.

    So, when I was writing about our NY State Labor History Map for Labor’s Heritage magazine, I got some of the photos from the Broome County Historical Society–they were very helpful.

    I found it interesting that the talk in Binghamton started at 8 pm! Nowadays, everything seems to start at 6! Like our attention span, everything is shrinking–even our days.

    Keep writing–it is all wonderful and I really enjoy reading your posts!!

  2. It was a great idea to follow the life of someone important to you even if they weren’t what is traditionally considered “related.” Unfortunately we moved around so much it would be difficult to profile any of my teachers now. Perhaps someone who was a family friend and who my mother corresponded with over the years might lead to some interesting insights.

    1. It’s definitely worth a try. I have found interesting information about a variety of my ancestors’ family friends, associates and neighbors — from witnesses on citizenship documents to probate guarantors — which help add another dimension to my ancestors’ histories.

  3. I believe, if Miss George could see what you have revealed to us of her life through your Sepia Saturday entries, she would be quite pleased with you and you would certainly garner an A+ or Excellence grade for your efforts! 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading about her over the past weeks and remembering my own favorite teachers in doing so.

  4. I must go back and read the previous nine posts. You have me curious.

    I have only one teacher who haunts my memory. I saved her wedding announcement when it ran in the Honolulu Star Bulletin back in the early ’60s. I’ve always wondered what became of her. Of all my teachers she was the nicest.

  5. I think we’ve all enjoyed remembering our own favorite teachers too as we’ve read your series on Miss George. But nothing gets to stay the same. We all must bravely move up to the next grade and leave the old classroom teacher for a new one.

    1. Yes, life marches on! Yet although nothing stays the same, we are are changed in the process and bring a bit of the past — and those who touched it — along with us.

  6. My “Miss George” was Mrs. James. In fourth grade, I thought she was OLD. But when I knew her in my adult years, I realized she was probably only in her 40s, if that.

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