Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Miss Helen Hubbard

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

After doing a little research on McDonald County bank robber Cora Hubbard, I thought it might be interesting to see what the Internet had to say about my nearly-as-infamous (and probably much tougher) first grade teacher, Miss Helen Hubbard.  To my great surprise, the only thing that I was able to come up with on Miss Hubbard was a notice that there is a scholarship to Crowder College in her memory.

In an effort to correct that oversight, I am going to pen my remembrance of Miss Hubbard in this space and invite any others who knew her to chime in with their memories as well.

Helen Hubbard taught first grade at the Goodman (Missouri) School for so long that she became more of an institution than the school itself.  By the time I entered her class, I am certain that she had already taught there for many years - and while I am still not good at guessing ages, I would speculate that Miss Hubbard was well into her forties when she taught me and my classmates the fine arts of reading, writing, sitting quietly in our seats, and walking in straight lines.

Several generations of Goodman residents attended first grade with Miss Hubbard, and though I have heard many fond and glowing stories of her, I remember her in a different light.  Oh, she motivated students to work hard, but her prime means of motivation was fear.  Even parents seemed to know that you could mess with board members and superintendents, but Miss Hubbard was the rock around which the school was  built - and nobody messed with her!

But, in fairness, Helen Hubbard did teach me to read, and that is a skill that I have used and enjoyed my entire life.

One of my most horrific memories was one day when I came bounding into the house after playing outside and discovered Miss Hubbard sitting in the living room chatting with my mother.  (Was she going to snatch me up and take me to the kiddie pound?)  And if that wasn't shocking enough, she was smoking a cigarette!  I didn't know whether to run or just fall over and play dead!  (I learned later that they were talking about the P.T.A.)

Who knew teachers smoked?

Miss Hubbard eventually retired from school-teaching, though I suspect it was rough giving up all of that absolute power and authority.  She moved into a little white house just down the street from the school where she spent her final years, and where school personnel could drop in and check on her.  I never made contact with her after we moved from Goodman, but in my young adult years I noticed several letters-to-the-editor from Miss Hubbard in our local press.  Turns out she was an arch-conservative (color me surprised!) who had an intense dislike of the Kennedy's.

I did see Miss Hubbard one final time.  It was at the Wal-Mart in Neosho probably fifteen or twenty years ago.  When I heard her name called over the store intercom for a pharmacy pick-up, I walked over to get a look at her.  She was a very frail and elderly individual whom I would never have recognized out on the street.  I should have stepped up and introduced myself, but by then I had had some of my own letters-to-the-editor printed and was known for being a lefty,  so I chose to let sleeping dogs lie.  Some fears are hard to overcome!

About ten years ago I was at the Goodman School (now an elementary school with the Neosho R-5 School District) in my official capacity as a Child Protection Worker for McDonald County.  While I was there the secretary introduced me to pretty new first grade teacher.  Her name was Mrs. Hubbard!  It turns out that she was no relation to her famous predecessor, but I wondered if that name might have not been instrumental in helping her to get the job.  The secretary grinned when she introduced us, because she knew that I was a veteran of the Miss Hubbard who will forever haunt the halls of that peaceful little school.


Trish Coghlan said...

July 20,2014
Just found this in a google search which explains the delayed response.

Well as the granddaughter of Helen Hubbard, I have to admit this is a first. She once told me she didn't need to do much to keep students in line as their parents would do the job. I find it fascinating you found her smoking a cigarette. She once paid me $100 to quit smoking. Little did I know.

I too remember her being a starch conservative. As a matter of fact when I was in the fourth grade she had me working for a local politician- republican of course. When he offered me $10 for handing out flyers and I objected, he told me he was a fair man and he wanted to pay me for my work... Ok I took it. So I know about my grandmothers conservatism....

Sorry you don't have good memories of my grandmother. I used to love spending every Christmas break and several weeks in the summer with her in Goodman. She always took me on some sort of trip- educational of course - which has become part of my most favorable childhood memories.

If I were to describe my grandmother, Helen Vera Hubbard, the word stoic comes to mind. I have some of her characteristics, but not all. I am definitely strong and proud but much more center conservative.

When I think back on my youth experiences with my grandmother, I don't remember any bad one's. I just know she helped build my character.

Trish Coghlan said...

Ok I meant staunch not starch. She would have corrected me, politely, but firmly..