Making a Habit of Safety

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When I was a little boy growing up in Oakland, California, I had the same teacher for both the fifth and sixth grades, Marilyn Thomas.  Mrs. Thomas was really, really, really    pretty.  She was in her late twenties, had hair and eyes the color of dark chocolate, wore bright red lipstick and fingernail polish.  She always dressed very professionally, usually in suits, and always wore high heels.

When Mrs. Thomas was on vacation or ill, our substitute teacher was Mrs. Horowitz.  Mrs. Horowitz was really, really, really old, she must have been in her 40’s.  She had her hair piled-up on the top of her head, fashioned in the shape of a beehive, wore glasses, and had teeth that seemed not to fit very well.  She wore dresses, usually with a floral pattern, with a belt matching the print of the dress.  Her shoes could best be described as being sturdy.  Although they did have an elevated heel, they looked nothing like Mrs. Thomas’ shoes.  However, they were always highly polished and as I recall, always black in color.

In retrospect, I believe Mrs. Thomas was my first crush, although I was too young to know what a crush was.  Both teachers were excellent, though their teaching styles varied, their commitment to their students were equal.  What they taught, in those formidable years, still serves me today, 50+ years later.  The following story will illustrate the lasting lessons/impressions I learned and still apply within my daily life today.

One day, during my fifth grade year at Redwood Heights Elementary School, Mrs. Horowitz was substituting for Mrs. Thomas.  Whatever subject we were studying that period, I believe it was Math, I was having problems understanding the assignment.  I raised my hand, and Mrs. Horowitz called me to her desk.

I explained the problem I was having to the best of my abilities, she paused for a moment, then said something that has “Stuck” with me for all these years.

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