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Monday, August 10, 2020
Home Opinions My Little Mayberry: Mr. McGill

My Little Mayberry: Mr. McGill

Harvest Festival’s scarecrow contest made the streets look quite cheerful. Personal favorite – the Fire Station.   That scarecrow must have felt very safe indeed ( The Wizard of Oz comes to mind).

The decorations reminded me of a party from my childhood.  We attended one of the last one room school houses in Northern California.  Gads…talk about suddenly feeling ancient.  Yes, I also had a pet dinosaur.   Well, Mr. McGill taught 60 of us, grades 1 through 6 with no assistant and nary a parent in sight.  Horrifying and amazing at the same time, no?  We had a great deal of recess.  Mr. McGill was very fond of playing Vaudeville songs on the piano and encouraged us to sing along.  It’s weird that as a second grader I knew the lyrics to so many hits of the 30’s and 40’s.  We also watched a lot of movies on an old projector that warbled.  Our teacher was the original binge watcher.  Outside recess time consisted of playing under the redwoods for hours.

That October, Mr. McGill and his wife invited us to a Halloween party at their home.  It was a Victorian, lit up with chandeliers.  The door stood  wide open to welcome all the students and parents in.  An astounding array of candy, cookies, cakes, pies, cider, candied apples and candied popcorn were artfully stacked higher than our heads on a hall length table.  A child’s dream come true.

The school was closed soon after the party.  Parents whispered that Mr. McGill had been let go.  We were herded onto buses for the long ride into town schools.   I almost flunked second grade, though my singing was great.

So why am I telling you about Mr. McGill?  It’s about sweets, and singing and having a good time.  My kids didn’t know what sugar was until five years of age.  I was hyper-vigilant about candy.  But as I look back, maybe I should have been more lenient during special events.  You really are a child only once.  Maybe we need to give ourselves and our children permission to have fun, to consume crazy food, to relax just a bit, once in awhile.  It’s a scary ol’ world, full of monsters , witches and, yikes! politicians.   Taking  just a few hours out of the usual routine to sweeten our outlook might be very healthy.  Just don’t flunk second grade doing it.

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Denise Denton-Rinzler
California poet and essayist, Denise Denton-Rinzler is a Williams Pioneer Review featured columnist. A Colusa County resident, Denise often writes about her reflective thoughts about our community. Denise has published 'The Wishing Jewel' and 'Small Minds'.

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