As I look back upon all the gorgeous women I have seen in motion pictures, television, Macy’s ads for women’s underwear, and various publications I’m not supposed to even know about, much less devour with near-religious zeal, I still insist the the prettiest of all was the music teacher at Mansfield Junior High School, Miss Emilie Sprengle. Perhaps she was not the most beautiful, but certainly the prettiest. There is a difference, you know. Petite, dainty, feminine, yet with all the outstanding features most women only dream about having, when Miss Sprengle smiled or complimented us on our singing, she held the heart of every hot-blooded boy in the above named junior high school. And when Miss Sprengle sang––when Miss Sprengle sang, the nightingales came out of the woods to listen and learn. Is it any wonder we would fight any boy in school for the privilege of carrying her books to her car?
But all teachers at Mansfield Junior High School did not make student life one of continual bliss, and the reason was the person of Mr. St. John. Tall and slender, Mr. St. John possessed a brand of Gary Cooperish rugged, masculine good looks. But alas, we have come to the end of Mr. St. John’s better features. No matter how long and hard we worked on his assignments, he wielded his red pencil with a ferocity that let us know what blathering idiots we were.
In those days teachers were permitted to paddle unruly boys, and Mr. St. John applied his weapon with a frequency and savagery that would put today’s puny terrorists to shame. Unfortunately, at that time there was no Homeland Security to protect mischievous junior high school boys. St. John was the teacher to avoid. If we found ourselves drafted into one of his classes, we would fight any kid in the room for the privilege of sitting in a desk against the back wall. One doesn’t even have to be Christian to wonder how such a devil could get away with the name St. John.
So went life at Mansfield Junior High School, until the arrival of winter holiday. At last! Two whole weeks to generate new and creative methods of pillaging the neighborhood. But after the too-short holiday, January came again, and life returned to dear old Mansfield. First day of class we poured eagerly into Miss Sprengle’s music room. Would she talk about Stephen Foster again? Play the Triumphal March from Aida? Would she sing for us?
She did none of these.
She waved her left hand meaningfully in front of her and told us that from now on
we are to call her Mrs. St. John.
AND THAT’S WHY 173 JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SIGNED A MURDER PACT.
(FORTUNATELY, AT THE LAST MINUTE ALL OF US CHICKENED OUT.)