There she was, entering the classroom. Her head barely cleared the doorway.
Over six feet tall with feet we called boats – as she flopped one after another beneath her desk.
Her shoulders wide as a man – her fingers long like a witch, and on purpose chalk scratched the chalkboard.
Miss Dawson was wearing a flowered dress, on this memorable morning, me, in the fourth grade, me whom she told “Meet me in the cloakroom.”
Well, a trip to the cloakroom, alone meant we were scolded for something we did during class, but the teacher barely said a word and I knew school had only begun, I did nothing to be reprimanded; not this early in the day.
This trip to the cloakroom in the fourth grade – was to tell me I wasn’t good enough for her choir.
Can you imagine all those children in the classroom – waiting – staring toward the door to the cloakroom.
Can you imagine me with tears in my eyes – a sad face, my head down, being afraid to glance up, walking slowly back to my desk?
When I finally reached my seat, a tear fell onto my cheek and I heard children chanting, “She can’t sing…”
1960 – I started our school talent show. Our principal told me, “When you left this school we never had another.”
Guess I had talent collecting all the children with talent… Joey played the drums, and Cass, a guitar, while Keith helped with the curtains and directing,
Most of the girls weren’t thrown out of the chorus, like the other Nancy down the street, and Patty, Donna, and Aggie. I danced and talked as if I were the first commentator on stage, introducing everyone and telling everyone how talented our school was.
When it came to the piano, I managed to bring the music teacher in on the show.
Even if I could sing, the lady with the big feet would never hear my voice again…
The big mouth kids, the trouble makers, I put them to work too, everyone was in the show, not one child – left out…
You see – learning is a giant step – believing in yourself is even bigger – so I turned it around.
Singing wasn’t the end of the world – it was the beginning of mine.