Vol. IV No. 26 11/15/2023
1953: Miss Wolfe and the Mole
By Michael Forbes Wilcox
My second-grade teacher was Miss Gertrude Wolfe. The northern slope of Laurel Hill was part of the school grounds on which we were allowed to play during our recesses. To a seven-year-old boy, Miss Wolfe seemed as old as that hill. My grandmother Wilcox worked in the Stockbridge Library, and I often went to visit her after school. When I mentioned the name of my teacher, she smiled and told me Miss Wolfe had also taught my grandfather when he was in high school.
My attendance record in the 2nd marking period reflects my days in bed with measles and chickenpox. I remember my mother tying my hands to my bedposts when I went to bed so that I would not scratch my face while I slept.
One day, Miss Wolfe was writing arithmetic problems on the board, which we were expected to copy and solve. When the teacher had her back turned to the class, I slipped a note to the prettiest girl in the class (she still lives in Stockbridge), who sat across the aisle from me. Miss Wolfe immediately turned around and pointed at us. "Give me that note," she said. I later figured out that she was monitoring the class in the reflection in her eyeglasses.
Another day, during the morning recess, I caught a mole in the schoolyard and placed it in my pocket. While Miss Wolfe was busy at the blackboard, I took out the mole to show the girl who sat behind me. She screamed, which startled me into dropping the frightened creature, who started to run around the classroom. Several other girls screamed and jumped up on their chairs.
Miss Wolfe commanded me to capture the mole and release it outside, which I did. When I returned to the classroom, she told me to report to the principal's office and tell him what I had done. Mr. Newt Blair listened closely to my account, and then told me to write down what had happened. He read it over, put it in an envelope, and handed it back to me. He told me to bring it home and have my mother sign it so that he would know she read it.
I delayed showing my mother that letter, fearing the punishment I might receive (the worst would be a spanking by my father). After dinner, I told her that I had something that she was supposed to sign. She opened the envelope, and instead of getting angry, as I expected, she began to laugh. "You did what?" she could not contain her laughter. She signed the paper and handed it back to me.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne