My First Teacher

…well the first one that I remember with any clarity.  I remember her tininess, her bright hair, her slightly husky voice.

I was definately the Teacher's Pet.  I was allowed to stay after class and clean the erasers – a very great honor.

I remember her as my first teacher, my kind teacher, a beloved teacher.

Everyone else remembers her as The Nurse:

The Edith Shain embraced in an exuberant, naval elbow-hold became Miss Shain, my kindergarten teacher at Hancock Park, the school that considered discarded truck tires as suitable playthings for its students.

I don't recall the classes.  I don't recall the room.  I don't recall our voices loitering in the hallways.

But I do recall my happiness.  And I do recall Miss Shain.

She passed away today, at the good, old age of 91.  I wish her a safe journey, and if he has gone before her, I hope that sailor – her own for a second, for the flash of a camera – will be waiting for her.

Good bye, Miss Shain.  May all the erasers in all the schoolrooms suddenly find themselves magically shaken free of chalk dust tonight, in your honor.

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17 responses to “My First Teacher

  1. Wow…it's easy to forget that individuals that are part of such iconic photographic images were actual "people" as well. How marvelous that she was your teacher, and that she lived such a long (hopefully healthy) life!

  2. Beautiful. RIP Miss Shain. And a lovely story about the famed woman on the cover.

  3. I wonder if she remained Miss Shain all her life, or if another Sailor came along and swept her off her feet. So often people assume teachers don't have lives, or passions, or histories—in her case, a fabulous one. You were lucky to know her.

  4. Goodby Miss Shain, happy journey.

  5. Oh last night I read about her passing. How wonderful now to read that she was your kindergarten teacher! If there's a memorial service, you should go!

  6. If anybody was going to have this story to tell…

  7. Wow! that is so cool. May she rest in peace. I'm glad she was worthy of such an iconic photo.I wonder if any of my teachers are alive…they all seemed so old, haha, some of them reeeeally were.

  8. That is INCREDIBLE! I heard last night that she passed. Wow! She was your teacher!!

  9. How neat! What a lovely remembrance of Miss Shain. And how neat that the nurse lady was your teacher 🙂

  10. And very by the way, I live across the highway from a township called Hamilton, with a big sculpture garden. Along the road leading to it, and sprinkled here and there in the town are quite a few sculptures of varying styles, and the Hamilton train station has several as well. Recently, a new 25 foot statue was placed at one of the entrances, here's a fun article about it.

  11. Shutterbug – exactly so. Everyone has depths and thoughts and dimensions – every photograph has a life.Waterbaby – I walk by that school quite often; it's less than 1 mile from my apartment; I wonder if I should leave some flowers there?Hangaku Gozen – she married – and she had three sons, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.FDancer – Farewell, and fare well!pyrl – I emailed the LA Times writer who wrote up one of the local stories, and he
    answered – immediately, actually – that nothing had been announced yet,
    but if anything was arranged, it would be listed in the obit section.Lily Alice – oh, we can only hope! Thanks for the link to the article; Carl Muscarello is the name of the sailor that I hear most often – it might have been him, but who knows?Ms. Pants – now and then I think of some of my other teachers, jr. high and high school ones, and whether they are still here…I rather wish some of them were…DKN – I'm now tempted to go through some of my old school stuff, to see if I can find some kindergarten ephemera!MMB – I read that for a while she continued nursing, but she was also a kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles – yes, the nurse lady was my lady teacher!

  12. How wonderful that you have this memory. The photo is famous and you have your own link to it.

  13. That sailor looks like he was sent from heaven. He's surely waiting for her. Loved this poetic tribute to Miss Shain!

  14. What a lovely tribute — it brought tears to my eyes. Good tears, you know?
    Thank you.

  15. What a wonderful thing! I am all goosepimply!!!RIP, Miss Shain. You are remembered by so many for so many different reasons!

  16. Wow. That is incredible..thank you for sharing part of the woman behind the icon.

  17. Wow. That is one of my favourite photographs. Glad to know you enjoyed her teaching.

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