Memories of Miss Sadie Reynolds
SADIE REYNOLDS: AN EDUCATOR TO REMEMBER
By William Turner Watson
On Saturday, February 1, 1997, our community laid to rest Sadie Reynolds,
a marvelous educator from the "old school" of teaching and a southern lady
of the highest order. Her passing at age ninety-three, marks in some respects,
the passing of an era--and it was an era that evokes lots of fond memories
for me and for the many hundreds of students whose lives she helped to mold
over some fifty years of teaching.
On the day after Labor Day in 1961, I entered her eighth grade Louisiana
history classroom in the new and modern Theresa M. Lowe Junior High School
(now the Webster Parish Alternative School). I listened in awe as this
interesting lady with hair as red as fire told us about what to expect from her.
She told us: "Not all that I have to teach you will come from this book. Much
of it will come from history I have lived myself." She continued with all of us
practically spellbound. She said, "For instance, by now all of you have studied
about when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. You know that they
spotted the Indians who finally came out from the woods and into a clearing,
waving at these new settlers." She went on, "Now think. The Indians did not
use waving as a method of greeting. Someone had to have taught those
Indians how to wave. And I was that someone."
Needless to say, I had something interesting to say that night at the supper
table when my turn came. I'll never forget my mother's response: "William,
you have Miss Sadie Reynolds. And she told me the same outlandish story
the first day I was in Louisiana history class!" My mother then told me; "You
be sure to tell her who you are." Well, when I was a child growing up in
Minden, telling someone who you were took me a week before I "got up"
enough courage and had rehearsed what I was going to say. I saw to it that
I was the last child in the line that passed Miss Reynolds on the way out of
class that day. (She spoke to virtually each of her students at the doorway as
they departed.) Nervously began a "Who I am" speech that I had prepared, and
I was so relieved when she interrupted me after I told her my name. She said to me:
"William, I know who you are." And before long I was startled to learn that she knew
more about whom I was than I did.
She was "Miss Reynolds" then. One of the rites of passage into adulthood in
Minden then was to be allowed to refer to her as "Miss Sadie." Years later when I
had been a teacher for almost 20 years and she was well into her retirement,
I was training to run the Boston Marathon. I was only three and a half miles into
a long twenty-mile training run. Going down the hill on Pearl Street just past
the post office one warm, humid Saturday morning, I spied "Miss Sadie"
out in the front yard. She had an electric mower and was mowing the very
steep sloop in her yard. She would lower the mower by its cord and then
pull it back up the slope by the cord. The grass was moist and slippery from
a recent rain, and I knew that at any moment "Miss Sadie" would slip and fall
down the slope onto the sidewalk--and likely break her hip. I immediately
interpreted her and insisted on finished the mowing for her. At first she would
have none of it. Then she said she would let me finish the yard only if Id let
her go into the house and get me a cold coke. I told her that a glass of water
would be just fine, but she insisted on a coke instead. She was determined
on a coke instead. She was determined my efforts would be properly rewarded.
"Miss Sadie" was like that with all the adults and children with whom she dealt.
(No disrespect to the Hunter family, but the last thing someone who had sixteen
miles left to run needed to put into his stomach was a carbonated soft drink!)
As soon as she disappeared inside, my feet slipped out from under me and
the mower and I both fell six feet or so onto the sidewalk. Little was injured
maybe a scraped knee--other than my pride. I quickly repaired the damage
and finished the mowing just as "Miss Sadie" returned. She then had me
sit on the front porch and drink all of my coke before returning on my run.
The thought of telling her that I had, had plenty--or that I could feel my leg
muscles tightening with each minute didn't dare enter my mind. She talked
with me about many of the "children" that she had taught. Many of these
"children" were either dead or gone, or they were just people I thought of as
elders. She also told me things that I said as did as a junior high student that I
had long since forgotten.
My mother attended "Miss Sadie's funeral Saturday, party of a deal she and
"Miss Sadie" stuck many years ago. The deal was that whoever was left behind
would attend the other's funeral so there would be someone there. "Miss Sadie"
had a fear that by living so long and with so many of her associates in the education
community gone, few people would be around who would be old enough to have
remembered her. I know that she was pleased to look down and see so many folks
there the Saturday she was laid to rest.
Some of her fear was well founded. So many of that wonderful faculty -- Mrs. Belton,
Mrs. Rabb, Miss Bullock, Mrs. Starr, Mrs. Ford, Mr. Harkness, to name a few had gone
on to that classroom in the sky. That Saturday, I couldn't help but think how fortunate
I and so many other young folks growing up in Minden were to have had "Miss Sadie"
and all those other marvelous teachers who saw the innate goodness in each child who
passed through their classroom doors and who cared about who you were. Things have
changed a lot in Minden and since those times. We have big screen color TVs. We
drive down the road talking on cell phones. We talk in computer lingo about
"dot.com" and surfing web sites."
Once early in my teaching career I was talking to "Miss Sadie" about my fear that a recession
the country was going through might turn into a full-blown depression. Her response was
"It'll be the first time we ever had a depression with just about everyone owning a car and watching a color TV. But in many ways, things haven't changed that much in this town. It's still about the size it was when I was a child, and there is a whole new generation of teachers,
many with whom I work, who--just like "Miss Sadie" see the future in our children, who teach them as individuals, and who do take to the time to know who they are. But God threw the moldaway when he made Miss Sadie!" She is greatly missed and will be greatly remembered by all her children.
MISS REYNOLDS EIGHTH GRADE HISTORY CLASSES
OBSERVES BOOK WEEK
(The Tide Talk November 30, 1950)
Charles Roberts and Billy Burns
Congratulations to Billy Burns and Charles Roberts for for it's successful construction. In addition to knowledge of Louisiana, its parishes, the parish seats, and their location, and a working knowledge of electricity, it required a great deal of patience and perseverance to complete the task which they set for themselves and on which they spent many hours during the year 1949-50. (The pictures were taken after Billy and Charles were in high school . We are lucky to find these three pictures. Compliments of Billy and LeVerne Langheld Kidd.
(Note Billy Burns and Charles Roberts made
the map during shop class. If you plugged the correct Parish to
the correct parish seat the light bulb would turn on. This
article appeared in the November 30, 1950 Tide Talk. )
Claire Turner Fussell wrote the following:
Being in her homeroom class and her
Louisiana history class were the highlights of my
year. I especially was in awe of her Louisiana
parish/parish seat board. This board was wired to light up
when the student correctly matched the parish with it's parish
seat. Just one lone bulb lit up when the correct connection
was made, but to me it was as exciting as the lights of LasVegas
lighting all at once.
Claire, This really brought back memories for me. The 1954 classmates made this board when we had Miss Sadie for Louisiana history. We worked on the board in the basement of the old, old, school. (The one torn down in 1954) The shop boys cut it for us. The guys did the wiring, since they loved to tinker with such as this just to see if they could make it work. The girls did most of the painting. We also thought that it was a real "masterpiece" and were so proud of it !! Just one of my fond memories of a beloved teacher. Carolyn Sale McDaniel (Class of 1954)
I enjoyed the nice words of Claire about Miss Reynolds. She was one of the many great teachers we had at Lowe Junior High School. Incidentally, in reading about her use of Dr. Tichenor's antiseptic, I am reminded of the fact that as a youth while my Dad was at Tulane Law School in 1936-39, my parents and my brother Richard lived in an apartment directly above Dr. Tichenor's Pharmacy in New Orleans. His wife was still living at the time. Yes, there really was a Dr. Tichenor. Thanks, Tom Carey MHS 1965
Memories of Miss Sadie
By Claire Turner Fussell I was in the first 8th grade class to attend Lowe Jr High School. Miss Sadie Reynolds was my homeroom teacher. As I sat in Miss Sadie's classroom--first on the right in the front wing of Lowe--on the first day of school, I noticed a car like my father's drive into the driveway. Miss Sadie was leaned against the front window, so the person in the car could see that she was within earshot. To my horror, the car door opened and, yes, it was my father who got out. I was praying he would just wave and drive on, but no such luck. As he YELLED from the driveway, "Miss Sadie, do you know who's class Claire is in?" I tried to melt into my desk. Even if I had been successful, it would have made no difference. Miss Sadie just pointed to me as said, "Why, Floyd, she's right in here with me." I don't remember any thing else that was said. I was in my own world of total embarrassment. After that beginning, the year couldn't be anything but better. I grew to love Miss Sadie--and I soon learned that she loved me as much as she had loved my father when he was her student about 25 year earlier. Maybe they bonded because they both had flaming red hair. Being in her homeroom class and her Louisiana history class were the highlights of my year. I especially was in awe of her Louisiana parish/parish seat board. This board was wired to light up when the student correctly matched the parish with it's parish seat. Just one lone bulb lit up when the correct connection was made, but to me it was as exciting as the lights of LasVegas lighting all at once. I also remember her little vials of Dr. Titchner's that were stored all around the room. First, you must remember that Miss Sadie had a bald spot on the top of her head. The hair from the front of her head covered it--until she bent her head over to inconspicuously drink the vial of Dr. Titchner's. As she would lean down, that "top knot" of beautifully dyed red hair would fall forward, exposing her bald spot. Then, as she raised her head to consume the liquid, the hair would automatically return to it's former coiffured place. I don't think Miss Sadie ever realized we saw her partaking of the Dr. Titchner's, and I am sure she didn't know she was exposing her perfectly covered bald spot. Miss Sadie was a true personification of the word teacher. She loved her students, and I think every one of her students loved her. She made learning fun, but made her students learn. Almost everything I know about Louisiana, I learned from Miss Sadie. She will always remain on my list of favorite teachers!
William T. Watson wrote a biography of Miss
Reynolds some years ago that is on Minden Memories now. I was in
her home room from 1961-62, the second year that Lowe Junior High
existed. I did not have her for LA history, however: my loss. I
know that Miss Ramona Wigley often drove Miss Reynolds around
town, as Miss Reynolds did not drive. One often would see her
walking from Lowe Junior High to her house across from the post
Submitted by Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966