Sunday, July 11, 2010

More About Lettie Moore

The hummingbird and cardinal are favorites among all the birds around her home. The cardinal because Lettie loves to watch the parents feed their young and the hummingbird because of its flying speed and hovering ability. Lettie can identify most birds native to this region as she watches bird feeders in her backyard.

The top picture shows her cozy home, her reliable car, and the trees that attract the squirrels and birds. This home is very near the site where she was born and grew through childhood.

Lettie has always been inquisitive and a learned person. Her ability to spell and find mistakes in grammar is remarkable. See the sample of her handwriting in the picture. Click on the text to enlarge it and see the steady hand and excellent motor skills for an eighty-year-old.

When her father drove her to Old Richmond School to enter the first grade in 1936, she said, "I was scared to death." "I thought Mama and Daddy were trying to get rid of me", Lettie said as she remembered the experience. She went to school that first day in the back seat of her father's 1934 Ford. Older brother Lestro was also in the car. That's all she remembers about the first day of school.

Throughout her schooling, she refused to talk in class and dreaded to give oral book reports out of fear of speaking in front of other students in the classroom setting. In first grade she received a whipping from the teacher because classmate Lawrence Shamel was "cutting up" while the teacher was outside the room. When the teacher returned and asked who was making the noise, Lawrence reported that it was Lettie. First grade teacher Mrs. Odell Kearney believed Lawrence's story and spanked Lettie in front of the class, which embarrassed her greatly. A similar incident occurred in fourth grade. Again, by not speaking up, she took the blame for classmate Eugene Long and received a whipping from fourth grade teacher Mrs. Williams.

Change happened to Lettie in the tenth grade. Classmate Emma Jean (Shenny) Creech was sitting in the same row in the second desk in front of Lettie. Shenny, for an unknown reason, tossed a book over a student's head and it landed on Lettie's desk. Lettie tossed it back to Shenny. The same thing happened again. The third time, Lettie tossed the book through an open window to the outdoors. That's when teacher Miss Arrington saw what was going on and became involved. The teacher ordered Lettie to retrieve the book, but Lettie refused because it wasn't her book. The second time Miss Arrington insisted, Lettie left her desk, walked to the door, stopped, turned to the teacher and said, "I'm going, but I'm not getting the damn book." Lettie walked home and never returned to school. Lettie knew she would be in serious trouble for saying that bad word if she returned.

This unfortunate incident and Lettie's reaction affected her life forever. Beginning with that moment, Lettie never again let anyone take advantage of her by remaining silent. However, the book throwing incident has been a "bad dream many nights for lots of years", she said. Lettie never again spoke to Shenny for starting the uninvited book throwing. Years later Shenny telephoned Lettie's mother and said she'd like to talk to Lettie. When Lettie received the message, she thought there was nothing to talk about. During recent years, Lettie regrets not returning Shenny's telephone call. Shenny passed away in 1986. This is an example of how childhood play, teacher reaction, and perceived fairness can impact a life in unimaginable ways.

Below is a picture of Old Richmond School as it looked during Lettie's time there.

Lettie, however, recalls her school experiences with fondness and pride. She is most excited when she thinks about her many classmates. Here is a list of familiar names who were in school with Lettie: Mildred Goins, Paul Blackburn, Hoyal Kye, Wilburn Speas, Abe Whitman, Vance Sprinkle, Beatrice Anderson, Viola Blackburn, June Craft, Helen Lineback, Mildred Long, Marie Edwards, Becky Tuttle, A. J. Stout, Betty Hauser, Faye Nance, Lucy Butner, Henry Watts, Fred Kreeger, Ruth Gentry, Peggy Pfaff, Roy Whitman, and others.

Return here next week for more about Ms. Moore.

Have a good week!


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