Local schools let out for the summer this past Friday, and that has set me to thinking about how much I loved summer vacations - particularly during the years that I was a teacher!
I searched for a poem that would convey the exhilarating spirit of school being out for the summer, but all I came up with was Alice Cooper's School's Out - not an overly inspiring piece, and certainly not representative of the feeling that I was seeking to convey.
I wanted something more traditional, a poem that might harken back to those fanciful school days of old - the schools of when I was a boy, or, better yet, when my father was a boy. My first stop was a collection of America's homespun poet, James Whitcomb Riley, but surprisingly I could find nothing of his that rang my recess bell. Then, through some weird twist of fate, or blip on the Internet, I ended up with The Little Rascals and one of America's most beloved teachers, Miss Crabtree.
The Daffodil Poem does not address the subject of summer vacation, but it does convey the feeling that I was after. In the short film of 1932 entitled Readin' and Writin', the kids are welcoming a new teacher. Their beloved Miss McGillicuddy has left, and her replacement, Miss Crabtree, has taken over the classroom. One of the students, Sherwood (Sherwood Bailey) (sometimes known as "Spud") arrives at school with a welcoming poem for the new teacher which his mother has written. The kids laugh at him, but he reads it anyway - much to the delight of Miss Crabtree.
Another student, Breezy Brisbane, (Kendall McComas), doesn't want to be in school. His life goal is not to grow up to be the President, but rather to get expelled so that he can pursue his true desire to become a streetcar conductor. "Boy, do they get the nickels!" Breezy can't get Miss Crabtree to expel him until he throws a spit wad and hits Sherwood. After that, she sends him home and tells him that he cannot return until he memorizes Sherwood's poem.
Here is what Breezy had to learn and recite - which he eventually did.
The Daffodil Poem
by Sherwood's Mother
I couldn't hardly reach her
Said I to me I think I will
get it for my teacher
out on a limb so thin
I tumbled down like Jack and Jill
and skinned my little shin
I brought to my new teacher
I love her dear and I always will:
I'm awful glad to meetcha!