By Arthur H. Gunther III
This isn’t the time of year to discuss holiday or other occasion cards, but a recent email from an artist friend in Colorado prompts a memory. She writes, “My latest ‘adapting’ kick is reworking old ready-made cards. Remember back in grade school when we would cut up cards that had been collected and slap them onto construction paper?”
Well, I do recall, as do probably many of you readers. Two of my teachers — Miss Rouy in the third and Mrs. Still in fourth, at the old South Main Street School in Spring Valley, a village north of New York City, knew that reading, writing and arithmetic didn’t by themselves add up to a full education. Imagine, they knew this long before “Common Core” standards and teacher evaluation panels.
(Even today, when I do arithmetic in my head, which is a good brain exercise, I recall the 2 p.m. sessions when we all looked at the back of Mrs. Still’s classroom and repeated parts of the times table, hand-drawn and placed on the wall. That memorization, as well as the actual memory have helped me get through life.),
We had a regular, twice-a-week art teacher, Mr. Buttons (yes, that was his name), but Miss Rouy and Mrs. Still also got us involved in craft activities. They would bring in greeting cards from their collections, some as old as the early 1900s, some quite elaborate with cotton-stuffed covers made of silk. They would line up the cards on the chalkboard rails, and we students would rush to get the best ones.
Making these cards was fun, and we enhanced our imagination and development skills. It was also a good bonding experience in the classroom. Didn’t cost the school district a dime.
Years later, I went to an installation of greeting cards at a New York City museum, with some of the cards worth many thousands of dollars. Guess Miss Rouy and Mrs. Still could have been rich. Instead, they made their students richer.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This essay may be reproduced.