Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

A long-ago cartoon showed a boy pushing a ...

A long-ago cartoon showed a boy pushing a rotary lawn mower on a hot sunny day. He had attached a long garden hose to his body and wired the nozzle over his head so it sprayed cool water on him as he pushed the mower back and forth. His mother screamed at him, and he replied, “Aw, Mom~, you think that if I ain’t sufferin’ I ain’t workin.’*”

I was a bit like the mother when I chose to study journalism at MU in 1932. It never occurred to me that I could be paid for teaching fun things like tennis, archery, swimming and the team sports. A paying job and the fun of sports, games and crafts were two different worlds, to me, in the ’30s. Also, the Depression made fun jobs scarce.

Mom had finished high school and Dad, raised by four sisters, quit afte~r the eighth grade to work in the fields. However, he often said, “You two kids must get a good education so you won’t have to be farmers.” Of course our goals matched our parents’ wishes.

As a freshman I joined the women’s rifle club for $5. We used Army rifles and were taught by Capt. Hand an~d Sgt. Vera. We could use all of the ammunition we wanted, so almost every day I climbed to the fourth floor to the rifle range for practicing and shooting competition targets. We shot in Jesse Hall’s unfinished attic where rafters were in sight over our heads and winter winds howled outside and in. Practice helped me qualify for the team all four years. Colleges compared scores telegraphically with other teams in the U.S. and Canada and~ weekly, we often ranked among the best 10.

Each year the women with the 10 highest total scores were awarded white, shaker wool letter sweaters. I earned four! I was also initiated into the Missouri Musketeers club.

Several of us from Missouri university’s lab high school had enjoyed the use of the MU women’s pool, playing fields and practice teachers since seventh grade. Therefore, we had a head start on students from other high schools. Physical ed was great fun, and I never considered that teachers were paid for teaching those great activities.

I qualified for the American Red Cross senior life-saving training and later became an ARC life-saving and water-safety “examiner.” Then Boone County sent me to a National Aquatic School in Eureka Springs, Ark. After Ruby Cline’s advanced swimming class, I passed the requirements for admission into Missouri Mermaids Club, which put on public water shows and helped with intramural swimming meets. Miss Cline took five of us to Kansas City to participate in an AAU swimming meet. That was an exciting experience for this country girl.

I made varsity teams in archery, baseball, volleyball and basketball and was captain sometimes, but it never occurred to me that my teachers were working! They certainly weren’t sufferin’.

Along with that, I was plugging away in journalism. Miss Frances Grindstead and Roscoe Ellard taught me to research the facts and to use the dictionary for correct spelling. When my term paper “Socialism In 1936” came back, Ellard had written, “This is an E paper, but you get only an S grade because you coined the word, ‘canidate.’*” Perhaps I’d been concentrating on the wrong things and should have been sufferin’ more?

By a lucky turn of events, I spent 33 years at Christian College teaching fun stuff!


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