A Final Essay for Mrs. Davis and my Girls

By Al Munns

Perhaps it is as much a fabrication as a memory. Sometimes it works out that way when I really want to remember something the way it actually happened... and when it is my spectacular Ragsdale girls that were involved, I want the memories to be as special as you were.

I am sure of this much: it started over Study Hall. To be more specific, it started over my determination not to have study hall on my senior year schedule. I had no idea that such a simple request would bring so many unforeseen consequences into play.

My "official" reason for asking to take Typing rather than study hall sounded pretty good: surely the odds were higher that the long term benefits of learning to type were higher than the odds of my actually studying during study hall! I guess it was that noble sounding argument that finally won the day, because I got my wish.

I also guess that it was best that the powers that made the decisions back then didn't know all of the motivations behind my request. I certainly wouldn't expect them to understand that I couldn't possibly take study hall again given the fact that the Pace twins had moved out of town. Brenda had made junior year study hall my favorite place to not study... I had concocted special plans for senior year, many of them involving Brenda. Okay, it's true she knew nothing of those plans; that was a big part of what made them "special." The least that I could do was make sure no other study hall ever replaced our time together...

I am absolutely certain that it was best that the aforementioned powers didn't know about my third reason for wanting to take Typing: I had a big crush on Mrs. Ann Cox Gandy. Lots of people knew about it, and they seemed amazingly understanding. Well, not Caldwell, of course, but I always assumed he was just jealous.

We were not too far along into the school year when "free typing" time meant the wonderful opportunity for us to practice the skills we had learned in class. My "skills" somehow managed to always reflect my heartfelt admiration of the teaching profession and the special (and beautiful) people who practiced it so well... I find it truly amazing that she never blew the whistle on me; I think I made her smile.

There certainly were no smiles in last period French class! One of the side effects of having no study hall was that whenever the baseball team had to be released early, it was French I was walking out of rather than study hall. I pathetically cannot remember the teacher's name, but I clearly remember her ever darkening glares as the season progressed and my delight in leaving early progressed at an even higher rate! I think payback finally caught up with me in college when my French professor was not impressed that Ragsdale's baseball team was 16-0 in 1962; but I had my priorities in order, even back then.

Yet it was English class that made my world of no study hall the perfect world to inhabit. The ultimate side effect was that my schedule would only work if I were in Mrs. Davis's class - a class comprised completely of smart and beautiful young ladies... and me! Over the years I have gloriously expanded that class roster to include every female member of the class of '62. You were what made me tick; you were all my motivation.

I especially remember the absurdity of diagramming sentences... diagrams that sometimes filled up more than a page. I remember Mrs. Davis's love of poetry... and all the "extra credit" opportunities we got to memorize the poems... even when that opportunity led to the notorious weekend I spent with Edna St. Vincent Millay.

But it was the exhilarating essays I wrote for my girls that I loved the most. It was not easy, because everything was intended to let them know that I was thinking of them... without letting them know what I was thinking about them!

So 50 years have passed, and I can now reveal in great detail the specifics of my boyhood dreams... I can finally peel away the veneer of sarcasm that hid most of my true feelings. I can finally let it all out!! I love you, girls, but no, I don't think so...