Maude Blankinship, who will soon celebrate her 80th birthday, asked me to write a brief article of "How We Met" for a book she is putting together, primarily for this great granddaughter. I wrote the article and thought blog readers might find it interesting? Will Maude remember those days as I do? Absolutely not!
WE'LL REPORT, YOU DECIDE! Un Huh!
How Maude and Walsine Met
In the year of our Lord, 1947, the good Lord looked down from on high and, behold, He saw in Point Pleasant, WV a poor, ignorant youth who was lazy beyond words. He took pity on the youth as at the tender age of 16 he lived alone. He Played football. He boxed. He was too lazy, however, to be a good student.
In His mercy, the good Lord arranged the lives of the Blankinship family so that they would live a year in Point Pleasant. Why would he do that, you may be asking? In His own wise way, He had the very angel who was the answer to this lazy youth's needs. Maude Blankinship.
Maude was a pleasant, robust and friendly blond. She was a good student. With such attributions it was only natural that the lazy youth would gravitate to this saving angel. Walsine and Maude met and became friends.
Maude and Walsine shared their Senior English class. The teacher was an 80 year old spinster named Miss Mary. This lady was tall and thin. Her voice was leaving her. And, she was nearly blind. Her left eye focused up to the left and the right eye focused down to the right. You might not notice the eyes, however, because her glasses were so very thick. Like all of the teachers who knew Walsine lived alone, she was very kind and forgiving to Walsine.
Afternoons were so boring for Walsine in that hot class on the west side of the building with the sun shining in. Walsine, sitting right behind Maude, did his best to enliven the class. While he was a very poor student, he had talents. He could whistle with his mouth closed.
Sitting directly behind Maude, he would enliven the class by whistling a cheerful tune. Miss Mary would begin her search for the guilty person. With the class all atwitter, she would walk right down to Maude and focus her stare on Maude. She would look at me and smile. As I continued to whistle, I'd smile right back at her. She would look back at me and return my smile. Maude would squirm! Eventually Miss Mary would decide it had to be my best buddy, Merald Bauer, and threaten to tell his father, the school janitor.
I didn't always just whistle. Some times I would hum a tune. Same-o-same-o. Back to stare at Maude, then get after Merald. I wasn't particularly talented but I did my best. After class Maude would laugh and take my name in vain.
Miss Mary was a good teacher. She explained the 121st Psalm, which I still use. She also had me memorize poetry. One poem I have used so many times is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Rainy Day".
Miss Mary also required that each student read a book each six weeks, write a book report and, when called upon, get up and read the report to the class.
Maude , my saving angel, always made two copies of her book report. One for Miss Mary and one for Walsine.
I would carefully rewrite Maude's report, word for word, and turn it in. When called upon, I would stand before the class and read Maude's book report. Miss Mary may have had a faltering voice and was nearly blind but she was not stupid. Whe knew what was going on. So did every kid in the class.
Once Maude wrote a report on Clara Barton's "Florence Nightingale, the Angel of the Crimea". When called upon, I stood before the class and gave it by best, loud and with feeling. In her faltering voice Miss Mary said "Walsine, do you like that kind of book"? The class broke out in laughter. With a face as straight as I could manage, I replied with the question "Who wouldn't love Florence Nightingale, she was truly an angel". The class roared. Even Miss Mary smiled. Life was good in Senior English.
Now for Paul Harvey's "the rest of the story".
While I really liked Miss Mary--as I did all my teachers--she was not a favorite of my saving angel. I think it had something to do with Miss Mary staring at her when I entertained the class.
For OUR excellent work on Florence Nightingale, Miss Mary gave Maude a grade of B. Would you believe, She gave me an A Plus?
Maude got her nose out of joint over this. I explained to her time and time again. I don't think she ever believed me. I don't know why, with me being of such a sterling character.
I told Maude that Miss Mary knew there was some hanky panky going on. Recognizing my sterling character, which Maude somehow missed, Miss Mary was confident that Maude was copying my work. Makes perfect sense to me.
Wisdom comes with age. Well, sometimes it does, I think. Maude and I didn't date, although there was a moment of touchy, feelie in the dark, in the back seat of her Mother's station wagon. Maude was a friend. A good friend. She still is.
As a person who traveled widely around the world thoughout my life, it makes me sad to miss Maude's 80th birthday due to a physical problem. I will be 80 in March, the good Lord willing and the krick don't get too high, my wife, Julie and I will be out to visit Maude this winter. We'll celebrate both our birthdays.
I have been so blessed in life. Maude Blankinship Norris is high on my list of blessings.
Well, there you have it. Already Maude has denied the "touchie-feelie" comment claiming that her Mother owned a '39 pointiac. I may have been wrong in this. Maybe it wasn't HER Mother's station wagon. Un Huh!
Oh, bye-the-bye, click on my class picture, enlarging it, check out my left eyebrow. I earned those 5 stitches while helping to beat Ripley 25-0. Go Big Blacks! No face guards on the helmets in 1947!
Think about it. WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE.