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Friday, October 24, 2014


October 23 comes around every year but for the last thirteen years, there has been no celebration. That date was my mom's birthday and every year for as long as I taught school, I always sent her a dozen yellow roses for they were her favorite.  

Sad isn't it to realize that you are no longer someone's daughter or even more sad to come to the realization that you don't have a mom anymore?  Oh it did hit me after she died for it was a Friday evening and the coming Sunday was Mother's Day. But I was still numb in the sense that it really wasn't true that she had died.

Thirteen years later of going to her grave and placing yellow roses has become a ritual on her birthday.

And oh how she loved celebrating it with family and friends. She was deluged with birthday cards the like of which I've never seen.  And those yellow roses sat on the living room table as if to say "We are here for you!"

Yesterday was a day of sadness but also one of happiness for had she not been born, I wouldn't be here writing this. I owe her my life as all of us owe our mothers that.  But not a day goes by that I don't miss her or want to call her just to talk and hear logic.  

The good thing is that I can still hear her words she spoke to me and I have tons of memories with her and about her.  And if I see yellow roses, I think of her.

And so Oct. 23 is both a sad and yet a happy day.  If you lost your mom, I know you feel the very same:  It just doesn't seem that it should happen and yet reality tells us that it will. Keep your memories of your late mom close to your heart. I do and that's a very good place for them to be.

Sherry Hill

 Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Straight skirts were coming in style when I was in the 7th grade and oh how I wanted one but to my disdain, my mom refused to buy me one.  “Why can’t I have one?” I pleaded. “You’re only eleven years old and too young to wear one” she replied. “But everyone else is wearing them” I continued with my pleading. “You are not everyone” was her final statement on that discussion.

Had I heard that before? Of course I had as did every boy or girl heard that “you are not everyone” comment.  The problem was that I was 5’7” at that age and looked way older than I actually was.  And I so much wanted to fit in with the crowd. And I was sick of wearing full skirts or full dresses.

There was a girl up the street who was two years older than me and dressed more like my mom.  How her parents let her get by with that will never be known but she did and what did she wear to school every day? She wore a straight skirt.

Again at a department store, I tried to coerce my mom into buying me a skirt like that only to be met with the same “No.” I was sick at heart.  Oh I could have asked my grandmother to buy me one I’m sure but then she would have been on my mom’s bad side and I didn’t want to put her there.  Several weeks passed and one day I went to the older girl’s house up the street. She had tons of straight skirts and in every color imaginable. I got myself into a frenzy because I just wanted one skirt like she had.
Came back home and my working parents hadn’t come home yet.  Heaven only knows why I did it but I went to my mom’s closet and looked down at her high heels of which there were many. Grabbed a brown pair and headed out of the house and up the street to the older girl’s house and traded those shoes for a straight skirt. I did have to try it on and it did fit and I felt so glamourous.  Took it off, put back on my full skirt and headed back home with that skirt folded in my arms.

The straight skirt was not out in plain sight for I knew I had done something terribly wrong but things would get much worse when my parents got home.  Within an hour, the car pulled up into the driveway and my parents came inside. I was watching television and was met with greetings and felt a hot lump in my throat for fear that my mom would miss those shoes that were in her closet.

Instead of her normally going into the kitchen, my mom went into her bedroom and within minutes I heard “Sharon Lynn!” When you heard your first and middle name together, you knew that trouble was looming and it was.  “Where are my brown alligator shoes?” she screeched at me.  “They’re up the street at that girl’s house. I didn’t think you wore those shoes and …”

The rest of the words would not come out of my mouth. “Get up right now. We’re going up the street to get my expensive shoes back!”  I was frozen with fear and had to follow her straight up the street:  She was in a furor.  She rang the doorbell at least ten times only to be met by the girl’s mother. “I came after my brown alligator shoes and I want them right now!” “What shoes?” asked the mother. “My shoes! Your daughter has them; my daughter traded them for a straight skirt of hers.”

I just stood there like a statue afraid to move much less breathe. What seemed like hours were really only minutes when the mother came out the door with my mom’s shoes. “Now” said my mom to me “You go down to the house, get that straight skirt and bring it right back here. I am not leaving until you get that skirt and come right back here and you’d better be fast about it.”

My face was crimson as I ran down the street to my house. “What’s going on?” asked my dad. “I’m in trouble; mom is up the street. Have to get a skirt and I’ll be right back.” “What trouble?” he asked. “It’s a long story dad and mom will tell you” I told him as I rushed to my bedroom, grabbed that straight skirt and flew out the door and up the street.

My mom was still standing in the very same place on their front porch only she was stomping one foot. “Now give back the skirt” she hollered at me. My now beet red face felt as if it were glowing—that was how ashamed I was.  I handed over that skirt to the girl’s mom and off my mom and I came down the hill to our house.  I was carrying nothing; she was carrying her brown alligator shoes.

Going inside the house was much worse for she started telling my dad what I had done. “Do you realize that she exchanged my expensive shoes for a two dollar skirt? My dad just sat there sort of numb.  I was mortified.  “Go to your room young lady and stay there. No dinner tonight and don’t you dare pull another stupid trick like that ever!”

Throwing myself onto my bed, the tears wouldn’t stop. I had really done something totally stupid and had to pay for it. I remember my dad coming in to check on me:  “Are you all right?” he asked soothingly. “I guess so.” He gave me a big hug and left the room; after that I slept until morning.  The only good thing about that morning was that at least it was Saturday and I didn’t have to go to school with bloated red eyes.  I was grounded the entire weekend and just knew that the girl up the street would tell everyone at school on Monday morning.

If I counted the times that I heard my mom tell me about what I had done, it would be too many.  Yes, it had been stupid on my part for I had no idea that her shoes were that expensive.  I was never so glad to see Monday come so I could get out of the house and back with friends.  “Have a good day” said my dad as he and my mom headed for the car.  My mom glared at me. “See you after work” she said and off they went down the hill.

Feeling crummy as well as having had been deceitful, I went ahead down the hill where I met up with friends.  The walk to the junior high was a long one but this one time I was glad that it was. I had too many feelings in my head to sort out.  When we got to school, I saw the older girl that lived up the street but she said nothing.  I imagine that her mom had lit into her as well.

It would be months before I got a straight skirt and it was brown with white pinstripes.  I can still envision it to this day. Loved it and about wore it out.  The trade had been absurd on my part when I stopped and thought about it but I had done it and paid the consequences.  Sometimes, when you really want something so badly and you can’t have it, time seems to really matter if you’re eleven years old.   But so did being grounded. Rest my case.

Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill

All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 18, 2014


When I was in the 9th grade at Lincoln Junior High School, my mom had bought the most beautiful cobalt blue coat that I had ever seen.  Problem was she wouldn’t let me touch her clothes much less wear any of them.  And I was the only child.  I had plenty of coats but nothing as beautiful as hers. I lusted after that coat for days upon end.

It was October and it was a Friday: That meant that not only did we at school have an hour for lunch but we also got to go to a football game for the entire afternoon. My mom left for work before I left for school and I had the thought of just trying on the blue coat but I cast that aside.  Trouble I didn’t want and so I headed off for school but all that was on my mind besides getting to have the afternoon off to go to a football game, was that blue coat.

A friend of mine came home for lunch with me and while eating a sandwich, I went into my mom’s bedroom and took out the coat, put it on and asked my friend what she thought of it.  Like me, she thought it was the most beautiful coat she had ever seen. You can guess that I wore that coat back to school where we all got on buses and headed to Kanawha City for the game.

I can still remember what happened: I was standing up on the bleachers with my friend and everyone else when I put my arms up in the air and then heard a rip.  A chill went down my spine as I looked at the coat:  The entire under arm had ripped right off. I was hysterical.  Just knew I was going to either be killed or grounded by my mom.  I don’t even remember the bus trip back to Lincoln.

What I do remember is coming home and sitting there deciding what to do: I could go to my grandmother’s and have her sew it but then she’d tell my mom.  And all of a sudden I remembered  Mrs. Zimmerman that lived up the street from me. She had done alterations on my skirts before. I flew up the street as if I had wings on.  Breathless, I asked her if she could fix it and explained my dilemma.

Said she could fix it but all I had was a quarter. Didn’t matter to her thank heavens as I sat there watching her sew the sleeve back onto the coat.  Relief washed over my face and body. I wasn’t going to be killed or grounded for life. Thanked her, ran back home and hung up my mom’s beautiful blue coat back in the closet.  My second only saving grace was that she wouldn’t get home from work for an hour yet.

And yet I couldn’t calm down for fear that she’d somehow know what I had done.  When she came home, she asked me how the football game was and if I had fun. Told her I did and that I was tired and was going to take a nap.  The smell of dinner woke me up and not one thing was said about the blue coat:  She didn’t know!

From that time on, I never sneaked any of my mom’s clothes out to wear. I would ask her and sometimes she’d let me.  Years passed and it’s funny but I never told her the incident about that blue coat. Never.  And as for Mrs. Zimmerman, who would continue to alter my clothes, she never said a word about it either.  If you’re wondering if I paid her for that one terrible time, yes I did and it was more than a quarter.

I was just lucky that Mrs. Zimmerman had been home to sew that arm back onto the coat and even luckier that I had time to put it back where it belonged—in my mom’s closet.  But best of all, no one ever said a thing about it.

Sherry Hill
Published in The Charleston Gazette

*I had to rewrite this as the original story was on my other computer and was lost forever.


I had taught school before my sons were born and the grades I taught were not primary ones.  Had dealt with first graders as I did my first part of student teaching in the first grade and that was not a fun experience at all. The second part of student teaching was in the fourth grade and it was wonderful.  I had felt blessed to have taught the fourth grade and then the fifth prior to quitting teaching.

When my older son was two and a half and my younger son was six months old, I had no choice but to try subbing for our lives were not Utopia. Too many things were needed for them and I thought with subbing, I could pick and choose the grades and the schools where I would go.  Well that was partly right in the choice of schools but not the choice of grades:  My up the street neighbor was in charge of getting substitute teachers to fill in for teachers.

I talked to her and explained how I felt.  She then called me several days later and asked me “Would you like to sub in kindergarten for two weeks?” “Kindergarten?” I asked her? “Two weeks?” “Yes and it would be easy, for you’d teach the same thing in the mornings that you’d teach in the afternoons to two different sets of students.”  I was speechless on the phone.  “I’ve never been around young kids except my own. Can I call you back this afternoon?”  “Sure” she said “but don’t forget for this job will go fast.”

Mulled the idea over and over in my mind.   It meant that I would have to get a babysitter and it also meant being away from my little sons for two weeks.  Called my mother –in-law and she said she’d love to babysit.  “I hope this is the right thing to do” I remember telling her.  “Yes it is and it will be good for you and for me as well” she happily replied.  And so I called my neighbor and said “I’ll take the job but where is it?” “It’s at Taft elementary and I’ll call and get you the job.”

I knew where Taft elementary was located but I had no car.  All weekend I worried about not only how to get there but how to teach five year olds.  Good heavens, it wasn’t in my experience. My mother in law said “I’ll take you and come and get you. And your sons will be with me.” There it was –etched in stone. No way out but to do it.

Come Monday morning, my then-husband had left for work and I was hurrying around the house cleaning up this and straightening up that while waiting for her to pick us up.  When I saw her car, panic set in me.  “Do I really want to do this?” I thought to myself. She came inside and we got my sons ready and off we went to Taft.

I remember walking in the school’s front door and going to the principal’s office. “I’m here to sub in kindergarten” I told her. “Glad you’re here and by the way, the kindergarten in not in the school.” “What?” I asked her. “It’s in a church down the street; I’ll give you the key to the door.”  There was no way I was going to ask the principal why the kindergarten was down the street much less in a church.  “How far is it?” I asked her. “Oh, not far. You’ll see it” she told me.

Down the street I flew with that key in my hand; had no idea what to expect at all.  Tried the front door only to be met by some woman that apparently worked there who then told me “You need to go around the back and open up the door with that key.”  By now I was hysterical and went around the back, unlocked the door and found myself in a kindergarten room. It was a few minutes until the aide showed up—what a relief that was.

I darted to the teacher’s desk to check out the lesson plans: What she had written down for the week, would not last half an hour and what she had written down for the next week was even worse.  I had no choice but to improvise that first day that seemed endless.  The only break besides recess and nap time was lunch and that meant that I had to walk the entire morning class down the street to Taft where they ate lunch [as did I in the faculty lounge] and then walk back with all of the five year olds.

When that group left, the afternoon class walked in.  Most of the afternoon was improvising on my part, for the lesson plans would not last nor did they work. I used all sorts of former things I had done with my fourth and fifth graders hoping to teach at least something for kindergarteners can’t read or most of them couldn’t.  There was some success and I was never so glad to hear the school bell ring for it meant that school was out for the day.

My mother-in-law was waiting outside the school and I had to walk down the street to let her see me. I was never so glad to get in her car in my life much less to be with my sons. “How’d it go?” she asked.  “Don’t ask me right now” was my answer.

That evening after fixing dinner and spending time with my sons, I got an old school bag and searched all over for things I had used before as a teacher.  “One day down and nine more to go!” I said aloud.  I found quite a lot and put them in the bag because they were going to be needed for those nine more days.  Don’t even remember getting in bed but know that I did for I heard my then-husband telling me “Wake up! You’ll be late.”

This day I was armed and full of ideas. And I remember that I had a wide silver cuff bracelet on each arm, a dress, red heels and that bag as well as my pocketbook. My dark brown hair was almost black and long.  My mother-in-law dropped me off at the school and I told my sons “Bye” and thanked her. Checked in with the principal and off I went down the street to that church. Yes, I had the key.

The aide was waiting for me; I unlocked the door and we both went inside.  “Today’s going to be different and a better one” I told her.  She semi-smiled at me and I noticed she was looking at my silver cuff bracelets but said nothing.  This time, I was prepared as I had laid things out the day before and was ready for the first group.  Slowly but surely the kindergarteners came in the room and sat at their tables.  Attendance was taken and so was the lunch count when all of a sudden a little girl looked at me and said “Are you Wonder Woman?”

Ah the silver cuff bracelets had worked their magic but I had not done it intentionally. “What do you think?” I asked her? “I think you are!” she screeched.  It was then that a little boy asked “Are you going to fly around the room?”  Pausing I said “Well you never know but if I do, it will be so fast that you won’t see me do it.”  A hush fell over the room and I had to turn around so that they couldn’t see me laughing.

The aide looked at me and I looked back at her with a “you know what I mean” look.

“You even have on red shoes” said another little girl.” “Yes I do.” The morning went by so fast that it was time to walk down the block to lunch.  My aide and I made sure that they were all seated and I saw them talking among themselves. I saw one little boy say “Wonder Woman!”

When that class went home, I am certain that some, if not all of the students passed the word onto the next group for I heard a kindergartener in that group ask me “Are you really Wonder Woman?”  I went through the same routine as I had that morning about flying around the room. Shock set in and lasted all afternoon.

For the rest of that week and the next, I wore those silver cuff bracelets each day—and my red shoes.  It was as if magic had settled over the entire classroom both morning and afternoon.  I couldn’t count the times I was asked if I were going to fly or where were my super powers.  “I only use my super powers in an emergency and all of you have been so wonderful that I didn’t need to use them.”  Little smiles lit up the room.

That was my last afternoon class and the last of subbing in kindergarten.  I’m sure that each little kid went home and had told their parents that they thought I was Wonder Woman.  At least those silver cuff bracelets and my red shoes worked wonders. I was so relieved to actually call it a day and go home for good.  The bag of things I had gathered up remained with me when I would sub again but it never was in kindergarten again.

My hat goes off to those that teach kindergarten for it is not easy at all as I found out.  But wearing a silver cuff bracelet on each arm and having on red shoes did wonders for those two weeks as well as having a bag of books and a notebook of ideas.

Sherry Hill

Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill

All Rights Reserved


 The year I was nine, May was warm. Very warm. And it was a no no for any child to go barefoot: That was reserved for the first of June. It was some unwritten parent code that was strictly enforced. I think that all mothers conspired to keep it enforced because if a mother in the neighborhood saw you barefooted, she told your mom. God forbid that would ever happen to me. That warm May Saturday was the day before Mother’s Day. I was one of those part tomboy and part girly-girl. At the end of my street was a paved dead end circle and past that were the woods.
I knew those woods well for I explored about every inch of them with girls and boys in the neighborhood. But all of us knew not to go past our fort we made, for the woods lurked dark and dangerous to us. And what made it even worse was that all of us had seen an old man and an old woman come out of the darkness carrying baskets of eggs. Where did they live? Oh we’d find out and just seeing that old house terrified all of us. I’d see this couple walk down my street and they never spoke to anyone but kept on walking down and off the hill apparently. They terrified me. They terrified other kids that lived around me.
I had seen an old movie “The Red House” with Edward G. Robinson: The house was deep in the woods and the movie scared me to death. Associated that house with this couple and thought that they were killers.
But on that specific Saturday before Mother’s Day, I got a brainstorm and told my best friend about it. “Let’s go up to the woods and past the fort. I saw some wild rose bushes growing there. And we could pick some for our moms. Wouldn’t they be happy?”
My plan worked for she agreed to go with me. No way did I want to go up there alone for not only were the woods scary past our fort but also that old couple lived somewhere past that. I told my parents that I was going up to the circle to play along with my friend and they said it was okay. Little did they know what plan I had in my mind and I wasn’t about to tell them either. Some kids were playing there and saw us go into the woods but my friend and I ignored them. Both of us had on white leather sandals with socks.
The excitement of my showing her the wild rose bushes shoved aside my fear of having that couple jump out at us. Of course she too was aware of them and feared them as much as I did. We trudged through the woods way past our boundary and as we did, we realized we were in wet dirt. Our white socks and shoes were now covered with mud. It hadn’t rained and I wondered; so did she because she looked at me puzzled. And to the right on a hill were those sought after wild rose bushes. I’m not sure which one of us took off our muddy socks and sandals but both of us did and climbed that hill barefooted where the rose bushes were.
I tugged trying to pull a wild rose bush out of the soggy ground but only managed to fall right into the muddy dirt. She came to help me and then was in the same predicament as I was: Both of us were stuck in the mud. And neither of us had any success at pulling a wild rose bush out of the ground. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and it must have been contagious because then she did. Maybe it was due to a movie I had seen about quick sand—for that is what I thought both of us were caught in. The more I screamed, the more scared I became. Same for her. Dusk was almost setting in and what were we going to do?
It was the ultimate fear that came in the form of that old woman and man—the egg sellers. At that point neither my friend nor I cared who it was; all we wanted was taken out of the mud that encased us both. The old man reached out his long arm and pulled her out first and then me. As for the old woman, she just stood there and stared at us. I remember thanking him while terrified of him at the same time. I looked down at my mud covered feet and legs knowing full well what would happen to me when I got home. My friend didn’t have to say anything for she knew it too. It was at this time of us standing there with the couple, that the old woman went over and picked a huge armload of wild rose bush’s stems loaded with white blooms. She handed us each a huge bunch, we thanked her, retrieved our muddy white socks and sandals and came out of the woods. Both my friend and I were holding huge amounts of wild rose bushes and our socks and sandals.
I just couldn’t wait to get home and give those wild roses to my mom. Knew she would be so thrilled to get them as a before gift for Mother’s Day. And my friend felt the same way. But to our shock, the entire neighborhood—adults and kids were rushing towards us. Reason? Everyone thought something horrible had happened to us. Right there were not only my parents but hers as well: Trouble was looming. I got home first as she lived down the street from me. It was dusk and now almost dark when my parents and I got home. My friend Audie would have to face her problem next. Expecting an overwhelming thrill from my mom, there she stood looking as mad as a wet hen. But I did have that fabulous gift for her. Lo and behold, she was livid with me, cast aside the wild roses that I held in my hand and made me carry my muddy sandals and socks inside.
Don’t remember my dad’s reaction. I thought I had done a great thing for my mom. She saw it as something else for I had been gone a long time with her not knowing where I was, was mud covered and barefooted. Immediately I was thrust into the bathtub where she scrubbed me from head to foot and sent me to my room. My heart sunk. Have no idea what she did with my bunch of wild roses and I just knew I was going to be grounded for life. Sleep came easily to me for I was worn out as well as scared of the consequences the next day.
To my shock, that Sunday my mom had those wild roses in a huge glass vase on the kitchen table. “Despite it all, they’re beautiful. Thank you!” I was stunned. And realized I wouldn’t be grounded forever. “Time to get ready for church and afterwards, we’re going to your grandmother’s house.” “Okay” I said and was off to get ready for the long day. Despite a stupid idea in the first place, my humble gift of those wild roses were accepted and admired—even my dad liked them. I would later find out what happened to my friend with her mom [her mom liked her gift too except for our being gone forever,] but when we got in the car to leave for church, I was mortified to see my arms and legs covered with scratches. And no way was I going to explain it to anyone at church that asked about them either.
Some grand ideas come to kids as to what they think will be the perfect Mother’s Day gift, not realizing the consequences at all. I learned a lot in those two days that would last a lifetime. Learned about being scared, mud, wild roses, scary but nice people, scratches, scaring my parents and the entire neighborhood as well as suckering my friend to go along with me on that humdinger of an idea. At least it ended well thank heavens.
Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

No it's nowhere near Mother's Day but thought you'd enjoy this story where my friend and I got in big trouble.

Friday, October 10, 2014


An upcoming dance was going to be held at the junior high school I attended—St. Albans Junior High and I was so excited. First dance ever. I had envisioned all kinds of things going on and happening there but most of all, there would be boys there. Just thinking about it set my heart afire. BOYS. I was eleven years old, in the seventh grade and tall.
And no, I had no dress that would be right for that dance. Remember well going up to Charleston with my mom; we met my grandmother and went shopping. Dress after dress didn’t work or didn’t appeal to me until I spied one out of the corner of my eye that was hanging on a rack. It was sleeveless with black velvet on the top and the bottom was a black material with orange and yellow flowers.
Tried it on and not only did it fit but I loved it. And I got it!
Lusted after that dress for over a week and when the time came for the dance that fall, I put on that dress and to my dismay my mom said I had to wear white socks with my black shoes. Hated white socks and think that every girl my age did. It was still daylight when my dad drove me over to Karen Covert’s house. Her mom was going to take us to the dance and stay there.
My heart was beating so fast when I knocked on Karen’s door for just the thought of that dance was all I could think about. Her mom answered the door and told me how pretty my dress was; I lied and said my grandmother had made it. Don’t ask me why I said that and still don’t to this day. Karen’s brother Buddy was half-hiding behind a chair smirking at us. I looked at him and he looked at me. Within minutes, the three of us were off in the car headed down Kanawha Terrace to the junior high dance.
We entered a side door and lo and behold there were boys and girls dancing and it was almost dark in there except for some sparse lights. My eyes flitted around the room and I could see bunches of girls standing by the wall and bunches of boys standing on the other side. And every girl I saw did not have on socks. None.
I remember telling Karen’s mom that I had to go to the bathroom which was a lie because I wanted to take off those blasted white socks. And I did. Can still see the look on her face when I came towards her and Karen: It was like a huge gasp. Karen wouldn’t have dared to take off her socks because her mom was right there.
But worse was the fact that some girl was standing right there beside Karen and her mom with the very same dress that I had on. And I had lied saying my grandmother made it. My face turned as red as a beet. I looked at Karen’s mom and she looked at me but said nothing. Ah, I was saved. Relief washed over me like a huge white sheet. But did her mom notice that I didn’t have on my socks? If she did, she didn’t say.
I did have a blast at that dance and remember dancing with boys. Karen did too for she also danced with boys. When it came time to leave, I had to excuse myself and again say I had to go to the bathroom: Real reason? I had to get my socks and put them back on before going home. Thank heavens they were still there is all I can say.
Karen’s mom drove me to my house and when I got out and thanked her, my body felt like it had wings. It had been one incredible evening even if some girl had on the very same fateful dress. And even though I had lied about the dress, it was never mentioned again. For that, I would always be grateful to Karen’s mom for it was our secret and would be so for a long long time. And as for the taking off of the socks? Never discussed and boy was I grateful for that as well.
I went to bed with such ease that night for I had gotten out of a lie which I should never had said in the first place. That dress? I would never wear it again: Yes, I had my own reason and now you know it as well.
Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Theodore was a gigantic stuffed bear that I found when I was volunteering for Goodwill Industries—he was about 4 feet tall. My first thought was that “he” would be great to take to my classroom at Robins Elementary and put him in a desk. But it was a Saturday and so the bear had to sit on the living room couch until Monday.
My huge dog didn’t care one bit about the bear; my cat did. Seems as if all that got done that weekend aside from cleaning and doing lesson plans, was keeping my cat away from that bear. Monday came quickly and I exited the door with my pocketbook on my left arm with my lesson plan book underneath my right arm. Having put both in my car, I had to go back inside and retrieve Theodore. He sat in the backseat.
Oh yeah, I got looks when people passed me staring at the bear in the backseat all right and even more when I got out of my car at the school parking lot. I couldn’t manage carrying everything and was so grateful when one of my students showed up and offered to carry Theodore into my classroom. He asked me where Theodore would go and I told him to just pick any seat that no one had. That being done, the student went downstairs for breakfast and I was busy with paperwork and all.
I was wondering what my student thought about it all but would find out about that later on in the day.
Passed out papers and put them on every student’s desk and some on Theodore’s desk. And waited—waited to see the reaction from my students. When the morning bell rang and my students entered the classroom, all of them saw the bear and all of them asked what he was doing there.
I told them that he was going to be a student and learn along with them. They looked at me like I was from Mars. The morning was progressing and lo and behold, the boy that had carried him in for me, went over to Theodore and did his work and promptly went back to his seat. All of my students witnessed what happened and yet not a word was said about it.
Theodore got looks and by the afternoon, student after student went to his desk, looked at his papers and one sat down with him. When the final bell rang, I heard many students telling him goodbye; one boy asked if he would be all right by himself. I assured him that he would be fine.
By Friday, Theodore became REAL to my students. He was read to, hugged and had all of his work mysteriously done. It was then that I knew I had made the right decision in buying him for he was what some students needed—something to care for and about.
Throughout the year, Theodore wore hats for every holiday, had cookies put on his desk, always had his classwork done and was hugged so much. But most of all, he was cared about. If he fell out of his desk, a student was right there to prop him right back up. Amazing what I witnessed. Amazing to my students.
When the end of school came, my students worried about him being left in the hot school but I told them that Theodore was going home with me and would be safe and cool. Relief washed over their faces.
I did take him home and he returned with me for the next four years. He was getting worn looking from being hugged, read to and having students sit with him. But most of all, he was loved and to my second graders who knew he wasn’t real, he was real to them. To so many, Theodore gave them a reason to care about someone else—and that was a great thing.
In the fifth year, the principal told me that Theodore wasn’t fireproof and I would have to take him home. My students were so upset that they actually cried. I cried. What to do? I decided to have each student put his or her name on a piece of paper and one drew a name. The lucky recipient got to take Theodore home forever and it was a little girl.
I can still picture that little second grade girl going down the street trying to carry a 4 foot tall bear. Called her parents to see if she arrived home all right and her mom said that she did but wanted to know why she had a huge bear with her. Explained it all and to my delight, she was happy about it. Her daughter was thrilled beyond words.
Theodore spent his next several years being loved, read to and hugged by that girl—I know because I asked her. When time came for the girl to go to middle school, I lost touch with her as well as Theodore. And I could only hope that the bear lived a long happy life.
An object such as a huge stuffed bear completely changed into a REAL bear with feelings to my students. And that was a very good thing. Theodore changed lives and for the better.
Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


About sixteen years ago, a friend asked me what I wanted for a Christmas gift. I told her “Surprise me!” With Christmas approaching, I wondered what on earth her gift or gifts would be. You see, we both like giving and receiving unique gifts. And so I waited and waited.
The week before Christmas, she came bearing gifts and they were all in a huge bag. After she came in, sat down and got comfortable, I gave her the gifts I had picked out and she handed me that huge bag. She started tearing open presents while I sat there in a stunned state. Truthfully? I like to wait to open mine but I did grab the first box I saw inside the bag. It was small and I couldn’t figure out what on earth it was by shaking it.
Tearing into it, I found a big rubber stamp but what it had on it made me laugh out loud for it had DUMB on it. “Look in the bag again” she said. I pulled out a red ink pad. “Oh you knew I wanted this!” I screamed. Really I did for I had mentioned it to her months before. “Where did you get this?” I asked. “I had it made at a printing place. And guess what?” “What?” I pleaded. “The woman that handed it to me wanted to know what DUMB stood for. I just looked at her, paid her and left! And I thought all the way to my car how stupid that woman was.”
When I heard those words, I burst out into laughter or more like howling. “Why did she ask you what DUMB meant?” “Either she didn’t know that word or thought it was an acronym.” “Good grief!” I howled. “I mean there are the not so smart people and then those other ones.”
Both of us were in fits of laughter. She had given me that stamp and ink pad because I had mentioned that I’d love to have one to stamp someone’s forehead with it. “But would they know what it meant?” I asked her. “I doubt it” she said. Well, that was long ago and no, I never did smack anyone’s forehead with the stamp although there have been too many times when I wish I would have. But the thought of a lawsuit didn’t appeal to me at all.
And that rubber stamp is still right here in my house. Says DUMB on it. As for the ink pad, it dried up a long time ago but ah, I do have many that still are not.
What a hilarious Christmas gift that was and it really was appreciated. I look at if often and remember the howling that both of us did. If you’d like to borrow it, maybe I’ll lend it to you. But it does come with a warning: The person that gets whacked with it on his or her forehead will have to look in a mirror. And that person just might contact a lawyer. Are you brave enough? Smile.
Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 3, 2014


About twenty-five years ago or so, I found an old jar that had a green metal twist on lid.  The jar was big and made of glass. Wondering what to do with it in my house, I decided to fill it with old buttons that had been in boxes and had belonged to my grandmother. It looked pretty and gazing into it, I saw glittery and unique antique buttons.  Amazing sight.

To me, it was like looking into a snow globe only no snow did I see but ornate buttons of every shape and color.

And that’s when the idea hit me to take it to my classroom at Robins Elementary:  It was a thing of wonder and I had to share it with my second grade students.  Were they amazed? Of course they were and would stare at it like I did.  This went on for several years in my classroom until I had an idea: Why not let each child choose a button and glue it to drawing paper? Not only would they have to do that but then decide and draw what object of clothing that they thought it came from.

The results were astounding.  Students drew and colored coats, shirts, dresses, capes and other articles of clothing and right there on that paper was the chosen button.  What they did amazed me and amazed them as well.  Those special papers were put up on the bulletin board for a month or so and then I let the students take them home to keep.

Year after year, this art experience happened in my classroom and year after year, hardly a single student never forgot the pungent smell that came out of that button jar. I could try to describe that smell in that it reeked of oldness—from the buttons to the ancient thread and once smelled, no one ever forgot it including me.

Finally, the button jar was about empty except for about thirty buttons or so. It sat in the classroom and many students saw it but no more “button art” was done for there weren’t enough buttons to share.

One day after school, I decided to bring home the button jar. Looking at it on my kitchen counter, that jar stirred up so many memories of kids’ amazement, their art and that smell. Twisted off the lid and yep, that pungent smell still lurked.  But so did the wonderful memories.

Odd isn’t it that such a humble thing as a big jar filled with old buttons could produce such happiness? I am so glad that the decision had been made to take it to school in the first place. And even more glad that my now grown-up former students remember it still.  And as for me, I look at it and see wonder. Wonder is what learning is all about but that button jar certainly added to the magic.

Sherry Hill

Copyright © 2014
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved