I have memories of a full life and many joys surrounded by the gifts for which we are thankful. That’s how I would capsulate 68 years, not just the last 50. I was raised by parents who ruled gently but firmly, believed in a good education, and taught by example.
I met many of you in the fifth grade at Melbourne Heights School and the sixth grade at Hawthorne Elementary. We were a small group then, but my, how we grew. From Hawthorne, it was off to Fern Creek Junior High, a huge building with many students and many grades. I was a small fish in a big pond, shy, of course, but my twin brother David helped me feel more comfortable. He was always outgoing and made friends easily. It was a long bus ride to school. We knew every stop and every student. Once there, the halls crowded with upper classmen and women. The lunch room spinach was not the way my mother fixed it, but I had good lunchroom friends. There were band concerts in the evening and teen age crushes on upper classmen, sock hops with girls on one side and boys on the other, sweet Mr. Anderson’s math class, another teacher who would rather tell war stories than teach math and meeting many new friends I would know for 60 years. Like Vivian Feese Smith, I remember the sleepovers in junior high, with my new friends. I was a city girl who hated girl scout camp, but at Viv’s I thought I was really in the country. What she didn’t write is that this city girl bought the whole ‘snipe hunting’ thing. I spent the ninth and tenth grades at Assumption High School. It was new, close to home and my father thought it would be a good idea. By the 11th grade, I convinced him to let me return to dear old Fern Creek High. You guys were still there and I knew you; however, I missed many of the shenanigans you have recently, elegantly waxed about. Fern Creek High School meant more long bus rides through the countryside that is now city-side, arriving early and heading to the apple machine (“Brother, can you spare a dime’). There was the same spinach and even more friends in the lunchroom. Now, we were the upper class kids that ruled. I remember skipping the National Honor Society meeting to attend the International Relations Club and the Good News Club. Sweet Margaret Ripley introduced me to a book I have loved to this day, “Small Woman.” There amazing pep rallies (“We get out of class for this? Wow!”) and games on Fridays. We always had good teams to represent us, thanks to you. I remember the helpful office staff and Barbara Maurer of course, with her assignments that helped develop an appreciation for music, art, philosophy, religions...we were in the know! Senior year also provided dear Dottie Gordon with a new Nash Rambler, so the early bus rides ended. My fondest memories of our class were with the group of friends that developed senior year. We visited the library, plays, and art exhibits, to meet Mrs. Maurer’s requirements. On the weekends we played hearts, charades and enjoyed shrimp cocktail. It was a sweet time, a sweet group and sweet memories to cherish. Four years later I was graduating from the University of Kentucky. I was still shy; however, I held the gavel for my sorority and other organizations. As Barbara noted in the prophecy, I intended to become an archaeologist, a field combining science, art and the world. Who could ask for anything more? For me, it didn’t hold its allure; so, I graduated with a degree in business and interior design. I worked in the field for two years (at Burdorf’s), until I realized there was something missing in my life, so it was back to the drawing board. A friend encouraged me to consider teaching. Not me, I thought, but I tried it and fell in love with the profession on my first day as a substitute. More schooling, school boards and committees, community organizations, 4-H events, more gavels, summer teaching, through 30 years I never regretted a moment of it, not even the difficult ones. I’ve been able to share my love of science, patriotism and the arts with many young people. I’ve been pleased to receive honors and be considered for Teacher in Space, but it has been an even greater reward to help our youth grow in wisdom and stature. Family life has brought many joys. I married in 1965, had two daughters and divorced in 1970, when the girls were 18 months and 6 months. Parenthood has been a blessing. My daughters live in Madison, Wisconsin. Victoria graduated from two school, art and computer graphics were her focus. Kathleen also graduated from two school, viola and performance were her focus. She is also a trained herbalist. Her husband works for the University of Wisconsin, procuring medical workers for rural areas. Kathleen has two daughters, 8 and 5. So, life has been abundantly good in Louisville, Kentucky, the city I love. Though I’ve retired from teaching, there are few empty moments. Church school and council, more gavels, and volunteering have kept me very busy, but I’m still shy. Reading about our class online has been truly rewarding. I’ve smiled, asked ‘Where was I?’ several times, and was brought to tears when the 8th grade class pictures appeared. “I know those guys," and that's probably how I’ll always remember you, smiling, young, without many cares for the future. It was a sweet time to be young.
Submitted by Janice Deeb Gritton