I'm tired of Third Grade. Who knows what we learned or didn't learn. It was in Fourth Grade that life began in earnest. It began when we rode our bikes up to the school at the end of the summer to see who would be our teacher. Mr. McIntyre. The toughest teacher in Wenonah. I was to be in a split 4th and 5th grade class with the toughest teacher in school. Life was about to get very weird.
Mr. McIntyre was tall and gawky and rough edged and rude. He had no niceties. He was intellectually superior to us which wasn't hard because we were in 4th and 5th grades. He was sarcastic. He was tough. He brooked no excuses. From day one it was very clear things were going to be very difficult.
At the same time this class was a bonding year for my friends Chris, Terry, and myself. All of us were smarter and more aware and starting to be more in the world for good or ill. To have a teacher like Mr. McIntyre was not a bad thing but not a good thing either.
His tests were not like anything else we'd ever seen. Before this it was True or False. It was A, B, C, or D. It was the answer to 2 and 2 is four. Not in his class. His history classes had tests with essay questions. Write everything you know about the battle of Gettysburg. What? Huh? Everything I know? We were fucked.
Then there was recess. He loved football and he played it with abandon. The problem was we were four feet tall and he was six four or more. He'd do end runs with his sport coat and tie flapping in the breeze and a dozen little chowderheads chasing him down field. He knew he had us beat and reveled in it. And we hated him for it and tried to beat him whenever we could.
He assigned us spelling words. Only we had to write stories with the words in them. We fixed him. We wrote brilliant stories! Variations of Twilight Zone episodes or horror movies or westerns all chock full of his words. We walked to school and compared stories. Whose was best? Whose was coolest?
We had to memorize poems and recite them out loud. We were give little yellow booklets with crap like the Frost is O'er the Pumpkin. We plumbed our parents meager poetry reserves and memorized The Highwayman or Gunga Din or the Charge of the Light Brigade. He couldn't break us. He wouldn't break us. We were smarter than him.
My grades sucked.
I'll post them tomorrow.
But he roused us all to levels we didn't understand.
Wild man running down the gravel holding out the ball for anyone to take. Laughing at our puny attempts.