I bet I sweat blood while writing this letter to Santa, back in 1962, when I was six years old. Holding one of those pencils that felt about as big as a baseball bat. Taking enormous care to only go up to the dotted line with the lower case letters.
Most amazing is that I signed the letter “Mark”, my middle name, which I never, ever, let anyone call me… Except when I was in first grade at John Adams Elementary School. Because, you see, I was head-over-heels in love with Mrs. Hardy.
She liked to call me Mark, and that was fine with me. She could have called me Dipstick if she’d wanted to. I would not have cared. Because I was seriously smitten.
Not puppy love, mind you. This was the real deal. I would have married her if given half a chance, despite the inconvenience of her already having a husband.
I was SO in love with Mrs. Hardy, and being perfect in penmanship and all things in her class, that I totally forgot to ask Santa to bring me any toys for Christmas.
I was only at Adams for one year before transferring to Cleveland Elementary. Other than my ginormous crush on Mrs. Hardy, I don’t have many memories from Adams.
Looking at the class photo below, I can still vaguely recognize maybe 15 of the kids, though I had to turn the photo over to see most of their names.
I don’t remember getting into any fights at Adams. But when I was in high school, a friend admitted to having called me “Captain Hook” back in first grade, at which point he said I punched his lights out.
Funny, that the only thing I really remember about Adams is Mrs. Hardy — my love for her, and one bad thing.
If you stayed after school and “read bands”, vocabulary words at the bottom of the book, she would give you a sugar-coated lemon drop. If you worked really hard, she gave you two.
One day, I worked really, really hard (showing off), but she only told me to take one lemon drop. I took two.
Sorry about that, Mrs. Hardy.
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