Have you ever seen Gregory Peck’s remarkable portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film version of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird?

Mary Badham’s Scout is just as I’d imagined her to be when I read the novel.

Take a look at her hairstyle, which mirrors mine when I was a kid — brown, straight, with bangs — frequently messy.

However, for special occasions (school picture day, for example), Mother would cut it, perm it, curl it (bobby pins in my hair overnight … much more comfortable than the enormous cylinders I wore each night during high school … but I digress.)

The picture below shows me in 4th grade, the year of my first bad experiences in elementary school. Prior to this, I was blessed to be taught by three sweet women,  Sister Mary Jerome, Sister Rita, and Mrs. Buechlein, who praised and encouraged everything I did; I blossomed as a student.

On the first day of 4th grade, Sister Mary Jerome yelled at me. During her introductory speech / lecture, she asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand, stood up (the law at the time), and happily announced that Mother had given birth to my brother Andy the night before. She crossly told me that such a comment does not belong in the classroom and to save it for recess. I withered, and the tone was set for the entire year. I did not bloom again until I survived out of her class.

I find it appropriate that my one physical memento of that year is this picture which reveals the horrific hairstyling techniques of my well-meaning mother.

What 4th Grade Looks Like

12 thoughts on “What 4th Grade Looks Like

  1. So cute, Mona!!

    What a Pandora’s box this post has opened up. I remember 8th grade the same way. A teacher made fun of my clothes. The tone was set for the whole year…

    Teachers play such an important role, and so many human beings are made or broken in their hands.

  2. I looooved that movie! I grew up watching all of those, the book was good too, though I don’t remember much of it. It’s one of my husbands favorite books, so I’ll have to look through his books and read it again! HAHA! I love the story and your picture! What a cutie! 4th grade was tough on us all no worries, lol, you look adorable

  3. Mona, this is such a great post. You clearly exposed what so many of us went through and some of the ugly memories linger to this day. I went to Catholic school, too, and some of those nuns were downright horrible. Others made quite a good impression. Be well and stay blessed.

  4. Thanks for sharing. It is so true to those days.I also remember my first year in school. The teacher smacked me because I could not read fast enough! I am still a slow reader today.

  5. Cute photo. It’s amazing how one bad teacher can do so much damage isn’t it, maybe without even realizing it.

    • It is ALSO amazing how good teacher CAN counter the effects of a bad teacher. I survived and loved the rest of my elementary years. High school was another matter, but that’s a story for another day.

  6. You were a beautiful little girl despite the … unfortunate… hairstyling, Mona. I too love Scout, in movie and book. Two of my favorites. Thank you for the sweet post (Sister Mary Jerome excluded) and stroll down memory lane. ~ Lily

    • As soon as my bangs got to an attractive length, Mother went crazy with the scissors; I have no idea why! I WAS a cute kid, wasn’t I 🙂

  7. Awww… cute photo, my mom gave me those mini bangs also, and I remember sitting on her lap, holding a plastic drinking glass filled with water. She would select a section of my hair, dip fingers in glass, wet hair, twist and pin with the bobby pins. Many memorable hair-dos were captured for posterity.

    Isn’t it something the power adults have to encourage children to blossom or shrink back into themselves. What a bummer of a school year. But now you are blossoming, correct? I’ll read some of your previous posts… divorced? widowed? I’ll see if there is a clue. I’ve been divorced before and having to start over.

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