Back in 1972, I had to change schools. I had spent the first three years at Riverton School in rural Madison county, and due to some rezoning issues, I would no longer be attending Riverton School.
Now I would be riding the bus to Brownsboro School every day. My fourth grade year would be spent in an entirely new school, with new friends, and a new environment.
I was ready for the challenge.
I remember that first day of fourth grade as though it were yesterday. I walked down to the end of the hall of that small school building, and waiting at the door to greet me was the most beautiful, blonde lady I had ever seen. In the words of many a Southerner, she was just "gawjus..."
She work a lovely pink dress, white shoes, and had her hair pulled back in a pony-tail fashion.
Her name was Mrs Turner. This would be her first year teaching in Alabama, and what a year it would be!
Mrs Turner did many marvelous things during that school year! She introduced me to a new world of "reading"--I remember how she read "Charlotte's Web" to us during our "quiet period" every day for several weeks. I was fascinated by the story then...and am still fascinated by it now.
Mrs. Turner once bribed me to be "quiet"--okay, I was a talker...to put it mildly. She let me have an entire half hour recess if I would just be quiet for a certain period of time. She bought me popcorn, and an ice cream. I do remember that much.
I learned how to do Fractions...or should I say, I learned to be frustrated by "fractions" in Mrs. Turner's fourth grade class.
When my Grandfather Hoover was in the hospital, and was near death, this same wonderful teacher made sure that I had a way to get to school every day. Her generosity in this manner will always be remembered, and appreciated.
When I graduated from high school (1980), Mrs. Turner came to my graduation, and brought her two oldest sons, Matthew and Mark. She even wrote one of the letters of recommendation for me to get into college that fall.
We lost touch for several years, in that her husband Larry was transferred to Europe with his job, and the Turners were off to Deutschland for a long time.
I reconnected with Linda and Larry shortly after I entered the United States Air Force. We have managed to stay in touch ever since. When I moved from California to South Korea, Linda wrote me many precious letters of encouragement--letters that I still have somewhere amidst all the "stuff" in my home.
When I was getting ready to move from South Korea to Norway, Linda was good enough to help me make hotel reservations in New York City during the 18 hours of "layover" I would have in the Big Apple. This was all before "the world wide web" became a common phrase in the households of the world....or even just the United States. She was always supremely helpful in anything that I needed or asked for.
She's just that kind of lady.
My precious Grandmother Hoover departed this life in May 1992. I was stationed in Norway at the time, and was able to get back to Huntsville, Alabama about 10 days before she died. Shortly after my Grandmother's death, Linda contacted me to express her profound sympathies for me. She knew that my Grandmother meant the world to me.
On Thursday, when I went to the funeral home, Linda met me there. She was the first one there, and stayed for a very long time--she knew that I would need her there...But more than that, I knew that I would need her there! What a precious friend!
So fastforward to April 2006.
I had the marvelous privilege of spending an evening with Linda Turner, and her wonderful husband Larry. Her three children are all grown, and spread out all over the world. Her oldest Matt, lives and works in the Tuscaloosa, AL area. Her middle child Mark, is now stationed with the United States Embassy in Bejing, China as a State Department Diplomat. The youngest, Jack lives and works in the Nation's Capitol.
Linda and Larry have a very, very special place in my heart! I have always said that she was the absolute best teacher that I've ever had--bar none. And I still feel that way.
Any child would be honored and blest to have Linda as a teacher, and more importantly as a life-long friend.
This child certainly has been.