joy magnetism: Tales of a fourth grade everything

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tales of a fourth grade everything

Magnet #908 - Dogs must be carried

We all have that one teacher that we remember growing up - the one who took extraspecial care for us, the one who mentored us and made getting through the schoolyear easy.

For me, that was Mrs. Honbarrier, my fourth-grade teacher, who, besides having a Fireball factory in her basement and always having her ventriloquist's dummy take class pictures for our yearbooks, was just the best teacher ever - and there are tons of people who went through our public school system who will back me up on that.

She gave me the gift of reading by noticing my head was always stuck in a book. She began to let me borrow from her personal library, even though we had a perfectly good one on the other side of campus.

Behind her giant wooden school desk, she kept a bookshelf filled with books that you'd expect - Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Louisa May Alcott. On top of that, she introduced me to one of my favorites, Ruth Chew. (It was to Ruth Chew that Mrs. H totally caught me writing a fan letter to...which would have been ok, had it not been in the middle of class. It was one of the few times I was ever scolded in that class - though, honestly, it must have been hard for her to scold a little fourth-grader for writing a fan letter to a children's book author. Heh.)

But it wasn't just fiction. That bookshelf was where I learned about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the cow on the White House lawn. And, oddly enough, it's where I learned about Service Dogs, and how they train the puppies from birth to be guide dogs for the blind. No, I haven't a clue why she had that book there, but I remember being fascinated by the fact that the dogs can sense danger, and be trained to protect their humans from the outside world.

That's why Mrs. Honbarrier came to mind yesterday on the train, and why I knew I had to use the London Transit magnet, because an old lady carrying a supercute cocker spaniel walked by me. The spaniel was wearing a little yellow jacket that clearly marked him as a service dog, and I instantly remembered that service dogs book from fourth grade.

Mind you, it was really because I was trying to remember if they ever mentioned any other breed besides German Shepherds being guide dogs, but still, I'd bet that Mrs. H would never have guessed that almost three decades later I'd still recall the books she loaned me.
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