Teaching was loads of fun in 1915

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, September 3, 2008

“Democracy is recognized by, among other things, the degree to which it gives a voice to minorities.”

— Vaclav Havel

With school just getting under way, the students are hopefully eager to get back in the classroom and teachers are even more excited and ready to stimulate their thinking and explore their creativity.

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Today there are guidelines for teachers that I suspect are different from the 1915 Rules for Teachers that read as follows: (1) You will not marry during the term of your contract. (2) You are not to keep company with men. (3) You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function. (4) You many not loiter downtown in ice cream stores. (5) You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have permission of the chairman of the board. (6) You may not ride in a carriage or auto with a man unless he is your father or brother. (7) You man not smoke cigarettes. (8) You may not dress in bright colors. (9) You may under no circumstance die your hair. (10) You must wear at least two petticoats. (11) Your dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the ankle. (12) To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must sweep the floor at least once daily, scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water, clean the blackboard at least once a day and start a fire at 7 a.m. so the room will be warm by 8 a.m.

My mother taught country school in the “Bohemian Settlement” where she became acquainted with my father, and they were secretly married in Cresco, Iowa on Dec. 31. I’m not sure of the year. My mother completed the year as the teacher with a well-kept secret.

My mother left teaching after that year ended and then went back to it when I was in high school. She then taught at a little country school northwest of Austin that is now history. It was a charming school attended by our son’s friend’s father. She ended her teaching at the school in Dexter that is now an apartment.

My sister went into teaching as well as my brother and I did. And in his own way, my father working at the plant, was a teacher, in spite of being sent home himself on his first day of school near the Wooden Hall, not far from the Bohemian Hall. He was sent home for returning a pine cone, actually throwing a pine cone back at the girl who threw the pine cone that hit him. He said she ducked the return throw, and the pine cone hit the teacher upside the face. The teacher who I believe came from the Old Country asked who was responsible. My father raised his hand and that was it.

I read the other day that Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, McCain’s choice for vice president, said: “Hillary Clinton left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.” Sarah Palin may become a vice president but she’s no Hillary Clinton. Not yet.

And now we even have Iraqi soldiers actually in uniforms with helmets, flak jackets and of course M-16s. I suspect we supply them. They will now be taking care of Ambar Province. “This is how it should be. Iraqis should protect the Iraqis,” Ahmed Abdul Salam said. Thar Mohammed, another Ramadi resident, was skeptical. “Our forces are not ready to take responsibility for the situation. I am sorry to say, but there is a lot of corruption in our security forces.”

About one third of US forces or 1,305 troops have been killed in the province since 2003.  Civilian deaths in Iraq are estimated to be 86,724 — 94,672. I believe more than that number has departed Iraq since 2003. Some are beginning to trickle back.

In recent months, according to an account in the Tribune, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly has sent eight helicopters, including four CH-53 Sea Stallions and four Cobra gunships, as well as several Marine detachments to Afghanistan to help with military operations there where there is still work to be done. “This is the toughest part of what we have been doing here, putting the plug in the insurgency. It’s very intellectual and requires a tremendous amount of patience,” he said.

And deaths, I might add.