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A True Teacher

By Joe Masatsugu Abo For The North American Post

Her name was Ann Carr.

She was tall with graying, light brown hair and a sharp featured face. She was the only teacher in our small one-classroom country school house in Kamilche near Shelton.

The building was rather old with a cloak room and a storage room with a fading red painted exterior, and a belfry with a large cast iron bell on top of the roof.

There was a total of about 30 of us students, grades 1 through 6, back in the early ’50’s. Mrs. Carr taught subjects from penmanship through arithmetic and writing.

She was stern, but fair. If she told you to do something you had better do it- or suffer the consequences. I remember one incident where she caught one of the boys, Jerome, eating white school paste while we were making posters. She told him, “Don’t eat the paste.”

Well, I guess Jerome really liked paste because he could not stop licking his fingers after spreading the paste on the poster paper. Mrs. Carr caught Jerome eating the paste again and she took him into the cloak room and closed the door. The next sounds we heard were whacks like someone hitting a blanket with a stick and Jerome yelling, “Ow…Ow!”

As I said, Mrs. Carr was stern.

She taught us other things besides the “3-R’s”. The school did not have a bathroom but instead an outdoor privy. One time I had to use the privy and when I came back to the class room she asked, “Did you wash your hands?” I was too embarrassed to say that I hadn’t. So she sent me to the cloak room to wash my hands, a lesson in hygiene.

We also learned to appreciate classical music. Once a week we
would listen to the Standard School Broadcast sponsored by the Standard Oil Company. We all looked forward to that time since we didn’t have to study but just listen for an hour. All six grades gathered around the radio and even though it was classical music everyone was quiet and well behaved. These sessions influenced my enjoyment today of classical music.

Mrs. Carr would have different activities throughout the year, keeping school interesting for us. Once, in the spring, we had a picnic in the city park, entailing everyone to bring food from home and share. It was a day of games and playing on the swings and monkey bars. A couple of times she had her son, who was attending the University of Washington, come to the school to talk to us about college or rowing since he was on the crew team.

Ann Carr was a teacher and person I really respected and still remember with fond memories.

[Editor’s Note] Joe Masatsugu Abo was born Dec. 11, 1939 in Olympia, Wash. His parents were kibei, born in the United States, moved to Hiroshima and returned in 1937. When Joe was three years old, his family’s wartime journey took them to Tule Lake WRA. After camp, they returned to the Olympia area in 1946. They were oyster farmers for the Olympia Oyster Company. Joe attended grade schools in rural SW Olympia and Kamilche, near Shelton and graduated from Irene S. Reed high school in Shelton. He earned a UW graduate with an engineering degree and was employed at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center at Keyport.

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.