M is for Miss George and my theatrical debut. Thirteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Halfway there — wish me luck!
My fourth-grade teacher Miss Helen George entered my elementary years in September 1959 — a landmark school year for me with so many new things to learn.
My memories of second and third grades at Hooper School in Endwell, N.Y. do not stand out in the same way, although I am sure my teachers were able and dedicated.
But I recall many details of fourth grade, which began when I was 9 years old.
Foremost among them is Miss George holding forth and coaching us on one topic or another — from cursive handwriting to deportment — as discussed in my previous series about her.
“She was just great,” my mom told me years later. “The classical type of person you think of when you hear the word teacher.”
I take to the stage
Perhaps my most vivid memory from my year with Miss George is taking to the stage in my first acting roles — once playing a character and a second time introducing a play in Hooper School’s new auditorium.
Miss George was a history buff who regularly used stagecraft to impart lessons to her students. And in 1959-60 she created two plays about town and state history for my fourth grade class.
In her play Hooper’s Favored Site, Miss George created a drama set in the 1800s about early residents of Endwell (called Hooper back then) — which sadly left out the area’s original Native inhabitants.
Although her script is lost to history, I remember appearing in that play in an old-time dress (sewn by my grandmother) that my mom or her sister Aunt Rita had worn when they were in grade school.
I do proclaim, “Samuel D. Champlain!”
For my second appearance, I had to stand alone onstage in front of the curtains and recite the prologue to the play — before a packed audience of parents and siblings. Much more anxiety provoking than a role in the play!
I don’t remember the soliloquy. What I do remember is that as part of the introduction I had to shout Miss George’s required pronunciation of SAMuel D. ChamPLAIN — a key character in her melodramatically titled play Year of Glory.
My performance in the news
Fast forward six decades and through online newspaper research I was pleased to find the above write-up of my performance. Not a review exactly — but still!
There I am in the the third paragraph on the list of “principal characters” along with classmates I later went through high school with — some of whom I still see at reunions and on Facebook.
According to the article, our play was Hooper School’s contribution to New York State’s Year of History celebration. Well, leave it to Miss George to be sure we were connected to history!
Up next: N is for Norm: My thirty-something dad. Please stop back!
© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.