Above / The latest issue of Positively Naperville featuring “My Favorite Things” hit the streets on Dec. 1. Thanks for reading!
The holidays especially are a wonderful time to focus on love, life and laughter while trying to find simple ways to create lasting memories.
As I got to thinking, my already created lasting memories took me way back to when I was a young girl. I flashed back to times when people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d always say, “Teacher.” Playing school after school was my passion.
For Christmas when I was nine, my Uncle Jack fulfilled Dad’s special order to build four kid-sized tables with benches so I could set up a play school in our basement. Uncle Jack taught industrial arts; and on the side, he designed and remodeled kitchens and baths, using Formica for countertops, a popular laminate at the time. I’ll always remember those short tables were covered with different colors of Formica, leftover from his jobs.
Dad built a frame for a large sheet of black slate with a bulletin board across the top. And he hanged that blackboard on a wall in the “unfinished” side of our basement that I called my classroom. Then after school, neighborhood kids let me teach them art and other creative things.
Looking back, I now think it’s safe to say my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Heichelbach, was my all-time favorite teacher. I still remember the desk where I sat in her classroom at Emerson Elementary School in Muncie, Ind. Her encouragement and inspiration led to a love for reading and writing as well as understanding the true value of friendships. Plus, she always hugged me for the many poems I penned about her! And she comforted me one time when I was called to the principal’s office for getting in trouble with a 6th-grade bully on the school bus.
When our three children were in grade school in Chatham, New Jersey, I recall learning from their principal that during fourth grade, students shift from “‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’.” Fourth grade can be a pivotal year said to set the groundwork for friendships and success. It’s also a time of wonder.
Fourth grade was about the time I also began using my dad’s typewriter to peck out a neighborhood rag called The Rolling Oaks Extra. The occasional publication on a half sheet of typing paper with carbon copies on onion skin paper featured one liners about kids in our neighborhood, including the date, the weather and a riddle or two. I delivered copies door-to-door.
You might say The Rolling Oaks Extra was the precursor to Positively Naperville. Then again, you might not.
By seventh grade, my play school days were over. One December those short Formica-topped tables were pushed together, set in a row and turned into a work station to gift-wrap presents my dad gave his business associates for Christmas. All through my teen years, I took charge of wrapping his gifts so they’d be ready by mid-afternoon, Dec. 24, for Dad to deliver them just in the nick of time before Mother hosted her annual Christmas Eve gathering.
As my thoughts turn to Dad and Mother, my first and forever teachers, during this wonderful time of the year, I’m mindful that our loved ones are the best gifts to us. Enjoy the simple pleasures of the holidays. Merry Christmas.
About the Cover / Precious childhood memories came rushing back on Thanksgiving Day when we gave our almost five-year-old granddaughter an early Christmas/birthday present, a “Puppet Show Tent” and several hand puppets. What joy it was to watch her antics and imagination as she gave Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and other puppets a special character voice while her dad lent a hand and his voice to Kermit.