Tuesday Teacher: Mrs. Yalmauer’s English Class

The following excerpt is fiction. There is no Mrs. Yalmauer, at least not that I know of. If there is a Mrs. Yalmauer, somewhere, it is totally by coincidence that I picked her name out of thin air, assigned her to an English class in Amshover, Missouri, and placed Smivey Stepward in her 7th grade class. Amshover, Missouri doesn’t exist either. I checked. Smivey Stepward does exist. He’s very real. I can see his face, and I know his voice.

“Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery” by Dale Parsons, all rights reserved.

“Class, I trust all of you are prepared to give your demonstration speech today” Mrs. Yalmauer said. “This is an important grade during this marking period, I hope you have spent sufficient time preparing. You should have practiced your speech at home for your family so you are not nervous about getting up in front of the class today. You should have brought some props to help you with your demonstration. If, however, you are demonstrating something for which it was not possible to bring a prop, it is acceptable for you to use pantomime. Who can give me a definition of pantomime, class?” Mrs. Yalmauer asked. 

No one responded as quickly as she desired, so Mrs. Yalmauer answered her own question, which she does quite often. The class found out a long time ago that if they just keep quiet, she does most of the talking and seemed not to care that they didn’t answer her questions.  

“Okay, pantomime is acting out something without any visual aids or props. You act as though, for example, you are holding a jar and taking the lid off even though you don’t actually have one.” And as she talks she acts like she’s holding a jar and unscrews the lid, pulls it away and lays it on the desk. Her motions remind Smivey of Gretchen Kirtz getting ready to play the piano. “Does everyone understand?” No one said anything. “Good. All right, then. Let’s begin.” 

“I have placed all of your names in this basket, and I will draw them out one at a time” Mrs. Yalmauer said. “Sylvia Weitzel, you will go first please.”  

Smivey breathed a sigh of relief as the girl who sat right behind him walked to the front of the class. She was carrying what looked like a baby wrapped in a blanket and a zipper bag. She laid the bundle and the bag on the desk and then she began. 

“Mrs. Yalmauer and fifth hour English class, good afternoon to all of you. Today I am going to demonstrate how to change a diaper on a baby.”  

There were a few giggles in the class but when Mrs. Yalmauer cleared her throat they stopped.  

“This doll will represent a baby who is four months old. First, you should determine if the baby is wet or dirty. Sometimes it is easy to tell just by the odor.”  

“Pew!” someone said.  

“Boys!” Mrs. Yalmauer scolds.  

“If there is no odor but the baby is fussy, he may just be wet. The easiest way to tell is to hold the baby and stick a finger down the back of the diaper to see if it’s wet.” 

“Eeewww” came responses from the class.  

“Class?” Mrs. Yalmauer said.  

Sylvia continued. “If the baby is wet, first lay him down on a blanket. Next, unsnap the baby’s sleeper. Carefully pull his legs out of the sleeper so you can take off the diaper. Pull the adhesive strips off the front of the diaper and fold the front down onto the bottom. If the baby is a boy, it is a good idea to place a towel or cloth over the area or you may get squirted.”  

Snickers again from the class. 

“After cleaning the area with a warm damp cloth, put the new diaper on the baby. Some people prefer to use baby cream or baby powder before replacing the diaper. Now, if the baby is dirty, there is more to do.”  

“I’ll say” someone said from the back of the class.  

“Boys, that is enough” Mrs. Yalmauer said. 

“When the baby is dirty, the diaper should be folded down as before, but this time use it to wipe away as much waste as possible.”  

“You mean poop” someone muttered thinking no one would hear it but several students started laughing loudly.  

“Stephen Linkler! You go out in the hall!” Mrs. Yalmauer said.  

“Oh come on, everybody was thinking it!” he said.  

“Instead, go to the office and explain to Mr. Pommer what you said. Now! Go!”  

“I’m going” Stephen said as he shuffled out of the room closing the door loudly.  

“Okay, Miss Weitzel, you may continue.” 

Sylvia Weitzel finished her demonstration and the class gave her polite applause.  

“Okay, Sylvia, very well done. Now all of you should be able to change a baby’s diaper,” Mrs. Yalmauer said. As she was drawing another name from the basket she said, “Next we have Smivey Stepward. Okay, Smivey, would you come to the front, please?” 

Smivey acted as though he was completely prepared. As he walked to the front he still had no idea what he was going to do. As a bead of sweat formed on his upper lip he turned to face the class and a thought hit him like his finger touched a light socket. 

“Today I am going to demonstrate how to play the piano. The piano is a large instrument made of wood. It has a big box with metal strings on the inside. On the front it has white and black keys that are pushed down to make the sounds. To play the piano you sit on a bench in front of the keys.”  

He pretended to pull a bench out in front of the piano and posed in a difficult sitting position.  

“Then, you play.” And using both hands, Smivey pretended to push on the keys with no particular rhythm or grace. He then stood up straight and bowed to the class as they clapped. 

“Mr. Stepward, that was a good start, but tell us about the music you are playing. First of all, how many keys are there on the piano?” Mrs. Yalmauer asked.  

“Sixty-seven” he said confidently, not having any idea how many there really are.  

“How do you know which keys to push?” the teacher asked.  

“Uh, well, first you have to know the music you are playing. There are lines on it and lots of notes,” he said, trying to remember his clarinet music. “There are notes on the top and notes on the bottom.”  

“The bottom of what?” Mrs. Yalmauer asked.  

“The bottom of the music,” he answers.  

“Okay, what are the notes?”  

“Well, uh, there’s a way to remember them, and it’s, uh, Every Cow Ate Fudge, and then the lines are, uh, Flies Don’t Bother Going East, or something like that I think.”  

Several students were laughing as sweat drops fully formed on his forehead. 

Mrs. Yalmauer, knowing that Smivey was not as prepared as he tried to make himself appear, said, “Well, I play the piano as well, and in the first place there are eighty-eight keys, not sixty-seven. And you’re almost right about the notes except you have them upside down. The acronym is F-A-C-E for the spaces, and Every Good Boy Does Fine for the lines in the treble clef. Do you know what the notes are in the bass clef?” she asked.  

“The what?” Smivey asked.  

“The bass clef, which you would normally play with your left hand,” she answered. “No” he answered softly, becoming more embarrassed by the minute.  

“The spaces acronym is All Cows Eat Grass, not “every cow ate fudge”. The lines are Girls Boys Do Fine Always,” she continued. “How long have you played the piano, Smivey?” she asked.  

“I don’t, but I might start,” he answered as the class laughed again.  

“Well, next time you do a demonstration speech, let’s make it about something you know” Mrs. Yalmauer said. 

Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons

Tuesday Teacher: Mr. Gorschanski

This is an excerpt from Chapter Five of my middle grade novel, “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery.” Author: Dale Parsons, all rights reserved.

This is the day of the week Smivey dreads. Fourth hour Band is replaced by Gym class. He would rather play his clarinet all day long, which he never wants to do, compared to playing dodge ball, which is what Mr. Gorschanski said they were going to play today.  

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Mr. Gorschanski shouts as the boys hurry into the locker room. “Get dressed and get out on the floor! Let’s go, men!”  

Mr. Gorschanski is a tall man with lots of muscles. His short sleeves are tight on his arms and his chest muscles stick out. Someone said he can make his chest muscles bounce up and down but no one has seen him do it. It’s probably a lie. His short haircut makes him look mean. He is the varsity football coach at the high school and he treats all of the junior high boys like his players.  

“Fulkins, don’t you leave this locker room without tying those shoes!” Mr. G, as most students call him, yells in a booming voice. 

The boys all have to wear identical white shorts and t-shirts with the name of the school printed on them in red letters. The shorts and t-shirts wouldn’t be bad if the gym wasn’t freezing cold.  

“All right, men, get warmed up! Jumping jacks first! Ready, set, one, two, one, two…” Mr. G’s voice thunders through the gym. “Fifteen squat-thrusts! Let’s go! Let’s go!” he shouts.  

“I hate doing these” Larry said to Smivey.  

“Me too” he answered, trying not to say it too loudly.  

“Fifteen push-ups, let’s go! Down! Down! All the way down!” Mr. G orders as he walks through the rows of boys. 

“Okay, men, three laps around the gym! Get going!” “Murfin and Stepward! You two get moving or you’ll be doing laps for the rest of the hour!”  

The two boys pick up the pace, not realizing they are almost a lap behind the rest of the class.  

“I don’t know why we have to have gym class anyway,” Smivey said as he and Larry trotted along together.  

“Great job, men! It’s time for dodge ball. Today it’s every man for himself. If you get hit, you’re out. Last one standing is the winner,” Mr. G commanded.  

After the boys were lined up against the wall, Mr. G put all the volleyballs in the center of the gym.  

“Okay, men, when I count to three, the battle begins. One, two, three!”  

Instead of running to the center of the gym, screaming wildly like the rest of the boys, Larry and Smivey ran to the opposite end, trying to avoid becoming targets. Volleyballs started shooting through the air, followed by dull thuds and howls as many of them hit kids. Soon classmates discovered Smivey and Larry trying to stay out of the fight. Volleyballs started flying at them from every direction as the boys attempted to avoid being hit. Running, jumping and ducking they were successful for a few seconds but soon both of them were out. 

A ball rolled near Smivey’s feet and with a burst electrifying energy he grabbed the ball and threw it as hard as he could at one of the other boys. The ball sailed high and instead of hitting the intended target, hit Mr. Gorschanski in the back of the head, knocking his glasses off which broke in several pieces when they hit the floor. 

Smivey instantly felt as if a bucket of cold water had been dumped over him as the blood drained from his face.  

“Who threw that ball!” Mr. G howled in a monstrous voice.  

It was instantly silent in the gym and every boy stopped dead in his tracks.  

“I said, who threw that ball!” he shouted threateningly.  

Smivey slowly walked forward, looking down at the floor.  

“I-I threw it, Mr. G. I-I didn’t mean to hit you, I was throwing it at…”  

“Stepward! It was you?!”  

“Yes, sir” he answered softly, terrified of what might happen next.  

“Are you sure it was you?!” Mr. G hollered even louder. 

“Yes, sir.”  

“Do you play football, Stepward?!”  

“No, sir.”  

“Baseball?!”  

“No, sir.”  

“Why not?! That ball had a ton of mustard on it! You should be playing ball!” Mr. G shouted. 

Mr. Gorschanski continued, “Gentlemen! I want each of you to learn a lesson from Mr. Stepward today! It took a lot of guts to step up and claim responsibility for hitting me in the head! He could have kept quiet, or blamed it on you. But he stepped right up like a man, ready to take the punishment!”  

Then looking at Smivey whose knees were shaking said, “Stepward! Are you sorry?!”  

“Yes, sir” Smivey said quietly.  

“Good job. Okay men, hit the showers!” 

As the class ran for the locker room, Smivey turned to join them. Mr. G, who had begun picking up what was left of his glasses said, “Stepward, come over here.”  

Smivey was suddenly terrified again, feeling a rush of fear charge through his body. “Yes, sir?”  

“You grew a foot today, son. Don’t you ever forget this.”  

“I won’t, Mr. G.”  

“Okay, shower and get to class.” 

When Smivey reached the locker room someone yelled,  

“Stepward, you are so lucky, I can’t believe you didn’t get in trouble.”  

“I know it” he answered.  

Larry was waiting for him, “I thought you were dead Smiv.”  

“So did I. I think Mr. G is going to be my favorite teacher from now on.” 

As the two boys put their gym clothes away and dressed for class they heard a loud commotion. Knowing that Mr. G usually went to the office to get a cup of coffee after class, several boys were trying to pull Jimmy Silvers out into the hall totally naked. Two had his hands and two held his feet as he screamed and tried to kick himself free from their grasp. They got him just outside the door when they all heard the familiar voice that shook the building.  

“What are you clowns doing?!!”  

They dropped Silvers on his butt who quickly scrambled back into the locker room trying to cover himself as he went.  

“Crimmel! Vickers! Froberson! Beltzer! You numbskulls have pulled your last stunt! Get your butts to the office this instant!” Mr. G screamed loud enough that the entire school probably heard him.  

The four boys who by this time looked sickly pale headed for the office. 

“Wow, I think those guys will probably get a lot worse because of everything that already happened in class” Smivey said to Larry as they walked away from the gym. 

Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons

Tuesday Teacher – Mr. Shermer, Choir

Excerpt: “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery” by Dale Parsons, All Rights Reserved

“Why do I have to learn how to sing? Why does the school need a choir? Whose idea was this, anyway?” Smivey thought as he walked to choir class. As he shuffles along, getting closer to the choir room he hears the voice of Luciano Pavorotti wafting through the hall. Every day it’s the same thing. Mr. Shermer plays the same music as students enter the room.

“Choir, just listen to this tremendous voice!” he always says, like it was the first time he ever said it, and the first time the students ever heard it. “Listen! Try to drink in the power of his voice, the depth of his emotion, the incredible strength of his spirit!” As the song concludes, Mr. Shermer continues, “Choir members, listen to me. Music carries the emotion of the soul like nothing else! Music communicates when every other voice is silent! Music can lift the spirit, give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful!” Smivey thinks maybe Mr. Shermer used to be a preacher. He doesn’t know where else he could have learned to give speeches like this.

“Choir, take out Springtime In My Love’s Caress, by Truman Calver” Mr. Shermer said, stepping to the podium.

“We shouldn’t be singing songs like this” Smivey thought as he found the music in his folder. “It’s so embarrassing.”

“Altos, I would like to begin with you today. Please start at measure fourteen. Miss Kirtz, their note please.”

Gretchin Kirtz has been taking piano lessons since she was four years old. Smivey can’t stand to watch her. She acts like she’s playing in front of thousands of people. She always sits straight up and nods when Mr. Shermer tells her what to do. She lifts her hand slowly, and gently brings her finger down on the key like she’s afraid it will splinter into a million pieces if she touches it too hard. “Okay altos, one and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast…”

It’s the word “breast” that is just too much. “We shouldn’t be singing this. Why can’t we sing something by the Beatles? No one has ever heard of Truman Calver or his stupid song about something warm in my breast” Smivey thought as he heard muffled laughter coming from the back row.

“Gentlemen!” Mr. Shermer yelled as the altos stopped singing. “How many times must I tell you that the term “breast” in this song does not mean what you’re thinking! The breast is referred to as the deepest part of the heart. The songwriter is expressing his deep feeling for his one true love. Please choir. You can do this.”

“Okay, altos, one more time. One and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast

“Gently, gently, she comes ever nearer

“Longing for the touch of my caress…”

“Very nice, very nice. Okay, choir, let’s start at the beginning. Miss Kirtz, the introduction please, one and two and…”

Gretchen plays the introduction perfectly, just like she does every time, and the choir began singing. In spite of Smivey’s thoughts about the song, it actually sounded pretty good. When Mr. Shermer first gave them the music Smivey decided to just stop singing when they got to the word “breast.” It reminded him too much of hearing his mother talking about healthy bowels.

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast”

Just at that moment there came a loud snort from the back row. Mr. Shermer stopped the choir. “Thomas Mindler, you go to the office this instant! Mr. Stoker, do you want to join him?”

“No,” Michael Stoker answered.

Mr. Shermer asked, “Mr. Herney, what is wrong with you?”

Steven Herney was laughing so hard his face was radish red but he hadn’t made a sound.

“Answer me!” Mr. Shermer demanded.

When Steven tried to talk he sprayed spit all over Smivey’s back.

“That’s it,” Mr. Shermer hollered, “You go to the office, too!”

Once the commotion had ended, Mr. Shermer started again. “Okay, choir, from the beginning of Mr. Calver’s piece. One and two and…”

Just at that moment the bell rang. Smivey was never so glad to hear anything in his life.

“Choir, remember, fall concert is coming up in three weeks. Make sure your parents have it on their calendar!” Mr. Shermer yelled as everyone hurried out of the classroom.

Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons