Connie Lakes

As I mentioned, I started a brand-new school in first grade. We had moved to the town not that long before the start of school and while I knew a lot of business owners (my parents ran a hobby shop downtown) and the librarians (because they rock), I did not know a lot of people my own age. My mother would help this later by being a leader of my Brownie troop, but I started first grade being the new girl.

Mrs. Lakes was my first-grade teacher. She was young, newly married and working to finish her teaching master’s degree. She had kind eyes and long straight brown hair. I was instantly in love with her and wished if I had an older sister, it would be exactly like her.

Part of finishing her degree needed a student to conduct testing with or something. I honestly have no idea what we did or how long it took or what. All I knew was 1) I was important to be selected because this meant my favorite teacher liked me and 2) she and her husband took me to dinner as a thank you. We were not a family used to going to restaurants. I am sure we did, but I cannot picture the four of us out to dinner. Even when company came, it was always a big meal in the dining room; birthdays were the same way. When we finished, Bill and Connie took me to the mall (45 minutes away) to Morrison’s Cafeteria and they said, pick whatever you want. There was so much food! They let me have my own tray! I could pick ANY DESSERT I WANTED and didn’t have to finish all my food to eat it. It was amazing. I felt like such an adult.

Connie is big on Christmas ornaments. I have never seen her house at Christmas, but she has given me one as a wedding gift with the date on it and one for my brother’s passing. Her mother died the week of my mother’s funeral. She sent a lovely card and note. Telling me that she had always looked up to my mom and was so glad she had her as a scout leader. The tone of the note and the special place my mother had in her life sounded a lot like how I feel about Connie.

We have snail-mailed in the last few years during the pandemic. Talking about getting together and catching up. She lives four houses down from my mother-in-law but still we have not been able to make it work. I do hope it is a summer thing. I would love to pick her brain more about my mother as her scout leader.

This picture not only has Connie (top row, third in) but me (four more pictures over) and two of my husband’s cousins. Oh and of course Charles.

And aside, as much as I love Connie, it was her classroom that one of my sayings has its roots. When something in the nation or at work or in life happens, when the larger masses are punished for the stupidity of a smaller group or one person, I tend to say Charles was throwing scissors. I am old enough that we had room monitors when the teacher left the classroom. One child was appointed to stand in the front middle of the classroom and watch for any infractions in the teacher’s absence. As we learned, it had to be pretty bad for you to tell on the other kids because then you got labeled. However, Charles, who would have benefited from a more one on one style of teaching, would use that opportunity to throw his scissors at the room monitor. This then led to a chorus of CHARLES THREW HIS SCISSORS AT (fill in the blank) when she got back. And then we would all miss recess. With the value of age, I see the point of trying to teach chain of command and not tattling. I will, however, go to my grave using ‘Charles threw scissors’ as an exasperation of managements decisions.

Connie was an amazing teacher and exactly what I needed that first year as the new girl. Hopefully in the coming year I can tell her all that and listen to her stories (ok and also write them down afterwards).

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