Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pratt Stories - Aunt Eva the Teacher

Pat Geisler and I have stumbled onto the fact that Aunt Eva was the teacher of eight Woodruff kids in two generations. She was the fifth grade teacher to Dick, John and I and the third grade teacher to Patty, Richard, Laurel, Abby and Janet. She didn't teach either Vincent or Linda.
In Henry Pratt's Memories XXXI I noted that "Aunt Eva was my fifth grade teacher. Some of my classmates accused me of being "teacher's pet" because she was dating my uncle." Henry and were married in 1937. If I am figuring right Dick and I were past the fifth grade by that time but she would have been "Aunt Eva" when John was in the fifth. Certainly she was Aunt Eva Dick's five kids.
Abby Bethke Emailed me: "All of my siblings and I were lucky to have Aunt Eva as our third grade teacher. I remember being worried whether I shoild call her Mrs. Pratt or Aunt Eva in class. I took Richard's advice and avoided both. Our mother (Mary Ryan Woodruff) said that at her retirement celebration, Aunt Eva joked that after teaching all of the Woodruffs and all the Williams,* it was time to quit."
Pat said "I followed the same route on the Aunt Eva/Mrs. Pratt issue."
Linda expressed her thanks to Pat, Abby and I for our comments about her Mother then said:
"I can rmember going with her when she taught at Covert, during spring break. Watervliet's and Covert's breaks were different but I really don't remember much about it except the kids jumped Double Dutch jump rope and I thought that was really neat, and a little girl I found crying in the trees along the edge of the playground. I took her to Mom since Moms can solve everything. Later Mom told me someone had called her a nigger because one of her buttons was pinned instead of sewed on.. Guess that was my first experience with racism".
"I often think Mom would have been pleased with Barack Obama's candidacy for president. Dad told the story of Mom talking to one of the neighbors about race relations in the 60's. The neighbor said she didn't know why blacks were still so upset because slavery was so long ago. Mom told her that if her mother Minnie had been born black in the south she would have been born a slave and the family stories we heard from her would have been a lot different. Dad always admired that bit of argument".
When I asked Linda if Aunt Eva was her teacher too she said: "Nope. She managed to be saved from that problem. She was teaching in Covert when I was in grade school. Vince also. Mom went back to teaching, when I was 4 and Vince 9, at Covert. She taught there for about 7 years until the new elementary schools were built in Watervliet creating an opening closer to home just in time for the next batch of Woodruffs".
* The Williams were a big Watervliet family of about 15 hard-to-teach kids.

Emailed August 25

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