Roger M. Goetz Chapter 17

Looking Back
by Roger M. Goetz





Who our fifth-grade teacher would
be was announced in 
Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, Iowa),
August 26, 1950, page 4, column 6:

She may have had no teaching 
experience, but we loved her
from the very first day of school.

* * * *

We may have loved her, but we sometimes made life a little difficult for her–never intentionally.

One time, our behavior caused her to leave the room.  A couple of the girls slipped out the door and soon returned.  They told us that Miss Emmert was crying and that we should all behave ourselves.  Chagrined, we did.  At least for a while.

 * * * *

At one time during our fifth-grade year, one of the boys brought to school a little bottle of toothpicks soaking in cinnamon oil.  Every now and then he’d sneak a toothpick into his mouth to suck on it till the taste was gone.  In a few days, most of us boys were doing the same.  We did it because we’d been told not to chew gum in school.  The taste was great if you like cinnamon, but sometimes cinnamon oil really stung

Miss Emmert finally noticed and asked about it.

We told her there was no rule against sucking on a toothpick in school.

I don’t think she liked having us do that because in another week or so, this practice was no longer allowed.

 * * * *

Most of the boys in my class that year were in Cub Scouts together.  Our Den Mother was Mrs. Clarence N. (Dorothy) Johndreau, and we usually met in the basement of her home at 2317 Baker Street.  Her son James ("Jim") Thomas Johndreau (1940-1974) was a member of our class.

Two of the games Mrs. Johndreau had us play I especially enjoyed.  One was musical chairs, and we often broke into laughter as game’s end approached.

The other game I especially liked was called "Rhythm."  Mrs. Johndreau had the boys sit on chairs in a circle and count off from number one thereby giving each boy a personal number for the game.  Then we started together making a rhythm in 4/4 time.  Beat one was slapping your hands on your thighs.  Beat two was clapping your hands together.  Beat three was snapping the thumb and middle finger of your right hand.  Beat four was snapping the same on your left hand.

Now for the hard part: on the first four beats, the person with number one said his own number on the first snap (beat three) and then the number of someone else in the circle on the second snap (beat four).

Without breaking the rhythm, the person whose number was just called had to say his own number on the first snap and then the number of someone else on the second snap.  Depending on the second number he said, he could send the rhythm back to the previous person or send it on to another boy.

So it continued until the person who was supposed to be speaking goofed by saying the numbers wrong and/or by breaking the rhythm.  That person was thereby eliminated from the circle.

The game started over with the person who had spoken just before the eliminated boy.  Only one problem, the number of the eliminated boy is no longer available to say.  So if someone called out an eliminated number, he was automatically eliminated.

The game got harder and harder as guys were eliminated.  But it was fun.

 * * * *

The above newspaper account about Miss Emmert indicates that she had experience in children’s activities.  She put it to good use during recess.  She guided us into organized play and sometimes taught us something new.

Of all that she taught us, I especially enjoyed playing Fox and Geese, which I’d never played before.  After a snowfall, we tramped down the snow in a big circle with spokes leading to a hub in the center and played a kind of tag.  One kid was chosen to be the fox and all the others were geese.  The fox tried to "catch" a goose by tagging him or her, thereby turning that goose into the next fox.  Naturally, then, the geese fled from the fox.  But there was a catch: everyone had to stay on the paths in the snow.  If you didn’t, you became the fox.

 * * * *

During the spring, once Mom’s flowers were growing, I took Miss Emmert a bouquet of flowers several times a week.  One noon hour on my way back to school, the bouquet started falling apart and I lost half the flowers.  I turned around and went home crying.  My mother was very understanding and let me stay home.

The next morning I set off again for school with a bouquet for my teacher.  This time, however, Mom put aluminum foil around the bottom third of the bouquet and had me carry it to school upside down.  That worked splendidly.  I happily gave it to Miss Emmert right side up and intact.

 * * * *

One of the things I remember about school that I enjoyed so much was having the teacher read to us each day.  One of the stories Miss Emmert read to us was The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  Alechia Bode Daniels wrote on January 22, 2010:

I remember Miss Emerson from Crawford who...on a rainy day ...brought a bag of wonderful apples and the book the Yearling.....she proceeded to spend the entire day reading that book too us. Said that was what a rainy day was for...I still subscribe to that concept.....

 * * * *

Here’s another interesting thing we did in school that year as found in Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, Iowa), May 2, 1951, page 4, columns 3-5:


 * * * *

My mother’s diary, Book 8, entry dated May 27, 1951 - Sunday begins as follows:

Roger was 11 on May 17.  Had Miss Emmert–his teacher–over for dinner.  He has quite a "crush" on her.

All her class did I believe.

 * * * *

During this school year, I was privileged to serve as a member of the School Safety Patrol in Ames.  It was both fun and rewarding, for I knew it was an important job to do.

 * * * *

The ending of fifth-grade was sad for me, because it would end my association with Miss Emmert.  I’m sure she did not return to teach at Louise Crawford School that fall, for if she had, I would have dropped in to see her.

On the last day of school, she got lots and lots of end-of-the-school-year apples and other things from her students.  The gift I bought her on May 28 cost $1.00 according to Mom’s financial journal, but it doesn’t tell what it was.  Surely something other than an apple.